While the entire nation was marking Independence Day on March 26 with a call for international recognition for genocide, Prothom Alo, a Bangla daily, weaved a tale purportedly attributing to a 10-year kid that “freedom is meaningless as we are dying of hunger”.
But this cooked-up story did not stand as the parents of the child told other media outlets their kids are not in a state of hunger. Rather “Prothom Alo officially handed the kid some taka to take this photo but attribution to such words is completely defamatory”.
And amid outright public reaction, Prothom Alo retracted that photo caption from their site.
However, the trait of spreading such a disinformation campaign can be traced back to the early years since the country became independent. Between 1972 and 1975, similar anti-state smears are ceaselessly peddled, ostensibly to lay the groundwork for the gruesome assassination of 15 August 1975.
According to the law of any independent country, spreading smears against the nation is a grave offence.
But here the bigger crime is “child exploitation”.
Using a child’s quote in exchange for money is a punishable offence in all terms, let alone a glaring breach in all moral yardstick in journalism.
Such a glaring breach of child exploitation is a crime in all definitions of international law too.
Years back, another student was electro-tortured to death at an event organized by Prothom Alo, courtesy of sheer negligence on part of authorities of that outlet.
Prothom Alo editor Matiur Rahman also has been accused of a lapse in complying with safety standards at the event his outlet arranged for children.
So in light of the death of a child at the Prothom Alo-led event, coupled with the latest case of child exploitation, who should be held responsible except the Prothom Alo high-ups?