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Death of house help Preeti

Rights activists raise concern over lack of action by The Daily Star

Published : 20 Feb 2024 10:17 PM

A number of rights activists and liberal personalities have raised concerns over the inaction of The Daily Star authorities against its Executive Editor Syed Ashfaqul Haque, who is now in jail following the death of a teenage maid at his home in the capital's Mohammadpur area.

The activists held placards saying #JusticeForPreetiUrang during a protest in front of Dhaka Session Judges Court on Tuesday morning.

Criticising the recent statement of The Daily Star Editor and Publisher Mahfuz Anam, Human Rights Activist Saydia Gulrukh lamented that the esteemed daily has not yet suspended the executive editor.

"The editor thinks it is best to 'await the completion of the judicial process for our own administrative action', which contradicts the paper's professed stand on lack of bias, objectivity and professionalism.

"The accepted ethical practice where such serious allegations are involved, is to suspend the accused until the outcome of investigations," she wrote on her Facebook profile.

Today's protest event was attended by several rights activists, including Rehnuma Ahmed.

Earlier today, Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Farah Diba Chonda's court heard the bail application of  Ashfaqul Haque and his wife Tania Khondoker, who were sent to jail on 18 February after a four-day remand.  

"We are waiting for an order from the court in this regard this afternoon," Lawyer Md Ashraful Alam, representing the accused, told The Business Standard.

Preeti Urang, daughter of a tea worker in Moulvibazar, fell to her death from the eighth-floor apartment of Syed Ashfaqul Haque in Dhaka's Mohammadpur on 6 February.

The next day, her father, Lukesh Urang, filed a case with Mohammadpur police station, against journalist Ashfaqul Haque and his wife, Tania Khondoker. Following the filing of the case, both accused were promptly arrested.

Lukesh, in the case, said that Preeti fell from the apartment due to the absence of safety bars on the window of the flat's drawing space. He highlighted that a similar incident occurred last year on 4 August, where another housekeeper sustained severe injuries from falling out of the same window.

On 7 February, the couple were sent to jail after a court denied them bail in the case. 

Later, on 13 February, Syed Ashfaqul Haque and his wife Tania Khondoker were granted a four-day remand in the case.