In a world inundated with information, it’s crucial to discern between accurate reporting and blatant misinformation. Recent claims made by prominent media outlets such as the New York Times and the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) regarding the arrest and death of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leaders and workers have raised serious concerns. The New York Times and ANFREL have been spreading misinformation about the arrest and death of BNP leaders and workers since October 28, 2023, stating that more than 21,000 individuals have been arrested, with 9 deaths in custody. The publication of fabricated and baseless information by the media cell of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in international media and institutions without any verification is contrary to objective journalism.
Truth Behind the News
But the fact is that the Prisons Department reports that there are currently 68 prisons in Bangladesh, housing a total of 80,097 prisoners. As of the end of 2021, there were 80,871 inmates, 80,537 on the same day in 2022, and 83,689 on the last day of 2023. The prisoner count on the last day of 2023 remained relatively consistent compared to previous years, contradicting the claim of an additional 21,000 BNP leaders and workers. The alleged increase in prisoners is unfounded and propagandistic.
Between July and September 2023, an average of 565 cases were registered, and 1,956 people were arrested across Bangladesh police stations. This average persisted even in the absence of political tension or conflict. However, since the intensification of the BNP’s political program on October 28, 2023, an average of 438 cases and 1,816 arrests have been recorded daily since November 22. The BNP-Jamaat terror attack on October 28 led to an increase in arrests, although the number of other crime cases decreased. According to the Directorate of Prisons, from October 26, 2023, to January 5, 2024, a total of 20,466 people were arrested on charges such as explosives, sabotage, murder, attacks on journalists, and car vandalism. Additionally, 10,997 people were released on bail through the judicial process. As of January 6, 2024, there are 9,049 prisoners related to these cases.
In October and November 2023, 44 prisoners died of natural causes due to physical ailments in Bangladesh prisons, and another 42 died in December. Apart from the brutal murders of four national leaders of the Bangladesh Awami League on November 3, 1975, there have been no unusual deaths inside the jail.
Contrary to claims, prisoners were not subjected to torture within the jail, as their political identity had no bearing on the treatment by prison authorities. The names and addresses of the nine BNP leaders and workers provided by the New York Times and ANFREL are not disclosed, rendering their information baseless and motivated.
It is crucial to critically examine information disseminated by international media, ensuring accuracy and objectivity. In the case of the BNP arrests and deaths in Bangladesh, the numbers presented by the New York Times and ANFREL are unsubstantiated, and a closer look at the actual data reveals a different narrative. It is imperative to rely on verified facts rather than falling prey to disinformation that can impact perceptions of political situations globally.