Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan did not confirm whether Prothom Alo reporter Samsuzzaman Shams was arrested, but said police ‘have the authority to take action if someone demanded justice'.
Criticising the report published in the daily Prothom Alo, the minister said the way the ‘false statement’ was disseminated on Independence Day could lead anybody to react.
“If anyone is disgruntled and demands justice, the police will take the necessary measures. All I know is that a case has been filed on the incident,” the minister told reporters at the Secretariat on Wednesday.
The minister, however, did not name who filed the case against Samsuzzaman Shams.
“What will we do with independence if there’s no food to fill our stomachs?” a person was quoted as saying on the Mar 26 online version of Prothom Alo. He indicated that people sweat over how to secure rice, meat and fish every day.
The report stirred controversy, especially on social media. Leaders of the ruling party criticised it too. Later, Prothom Alo edited the report and changed the headlines. They also removed the social media post.
Shams, who wrote the report, was detained from his home in Savar on Tuesday by people who identified themselves as members of the Criminal Investigation Department.
The CID has denied the detention, while another journalist who witnessed the incident, Shams's landlord, and the chief security officer of Jahangirnagar University, which is adjacent to Shams’ house, said the people who took Shams away claimed to be from the CID.
The reporters asked the home minister if law enforcers have the authority to detain someone in the dead of night, even if they are named in a case.
“I am receiving only bits and pieces of information. I need more time to discuss the whole matter,” Khan said.
“First of all, the quote used by the reporter was incorrect. You [journalists] have said so yourself. You broadcast on Ekattor TV that the news was baseless, fabricated, and motivated.”