Health Minister: Journalist Rozina Islam wasn’t physically assaulted

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Newspaper Prothom Alo’s Senior Correspondent Rozina Islam, arrested in an Official Secrets Act case, was “not physically assaulted” inside the secretariat, Health Minister Zahid Maleque has claimed.

“Ms Islam wasn’t physically assaulted. This was an unfortunate event. But she shouldn’t have done the wrong thing that she did,” the minister told reporters after a meeting of the National Economic Council in Dhaka’s Agargaon on Tuesday.

“Her [Islam] corruption reporting did not come today,” he said, adding: “What happened there [at the secretariat] was the result of things that happened that day [on Monday]. All action was taken based on that.

“Ms Islam, without telling anyone, tried to take a government file with her. She was taking pictures of them. She even entered the official’s room without permission. These are state secrets.”
Responding to a question about the video where an additional secretary of the ministry is seen grabbing Islam by the neck, the minister said: “The incident must be investigated. But I have asked her [the secretary] about it.

“She told me that Ms Islam was not physically assaulted. Rather, the journalist attacked her. When an attempt was made to stop Ms Islam after the incident, she scratched her with her nails and slapped the additional secretary.”

He said: “The claim that Ms Islam was confined inside a secretariat room for six hours is also wrong. Five to six officials of different ranks were present at the time of the incident. Police arrived within half an hour of the incident.

“The home minister was informed before me. In fact, Ms Islam was the one who was being uncooperative. No one forced her inside the room.”

However, Maleque’s assertion runs opposite to what Ms Islam and her family members have said.
They have claimed that the journalist was “assaulted” because of her reporting on corruption at the Health Ministry and she did nothing wrong.

Health Ministry officials turned Ms Islam over to police on Monday after confining her at the office of Saiful Islam Bhuiyan, the personal secretary to the Health Services Division secretary.

She was later sued under the Official Secrets Act and the Penal Code for theft and photographing of official documents.

On Tuesday, a Dhaka court turned down the police’s appeal to interrogate the senior reporter for five days.

She was later taken to the Kashimpur prison in Gazipur, where she will be kept until the next hearing of her bail petition on Thursday.

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