Bangla newspapers The Daily Azadi, the Daily Purbokone, the Suprobhat Bangladesh, the Dainik Purbodesh, and the Dainik Bir Chattogram did not hit the newsstands on Thursday and Friday.
The Chattogram Union of Journalists has expressed concerns over the decisions by the owners and editors to suspend the publication “indefinitely” when the newspaper industry is teetering amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Newspaper circulation dropped by around 90 percent in Chattogram when the government imposed a lockdown in late March to stem the spread of the virus.
The newspapers could not offset the losses after sales increased slightly following the end of the lockdown.
Some newspapers decided to pay the journalists half the Eid allowances, angering the media workers. CUJ later announced the programme to lay siege to the homes of owners and editors of four newspapers.
They began the demonstration by rallying outside the home of MA Maleque, the editor of The Daily Azadi, at Khalifapotti on Wednesday morning.
Deep in the night, the association of owners and editors, Chattogram Newspaper Alliance, decided to halt publication even after the journalists worked throughout Wednesday.
The journalists called off the programmes to lay siege to the homes of the editors of the Daily Purbokone and the Dainik Purbodesh on Thursday morning after the decision by the owners’ association.
No newspaper will be published in Chattogram at least until Tuesday due to the Eid holidays. It is unclear whether the newspapers will resume publication after the holidays.
Speaking to bdnews24.com, Azadi Editor Maleque said the journalists could have talked to him first before staging the “unprecedented” programme for Eid allowance.
He claimed the newspaper paid the journalists after speaking to the Azadi unit of the CUJ.
Maleque also alleged that the demonstrators hurled “abusive” words to him.
“I don’t want to publish the newspaper with such disrespect,” he said.
Mujibur Rahman, the owner and editor of the Dainik Purbodesh, told bdnews24.com they halted publication indefinitely following the association’s decision.
They will decide about the resumption of publication after the Eid holidays.
Nawsher Ali Khan, the chief reporter with the Daily Purbokone, said there was no official word from the authorities on the halt of publication.
CUJ General Secretary M Shamsul Islam said the owners and editors should not have stopped publication without making an announcement, describing the move as part of “an evil” strategy.
“We demonstrated only for full payment of the Eid allowances. The newspapers of Chatrtogram had not paid us full allowances before Eid-ul-Fitr. We don’t get increments properly,” he said.
The journalists’ leader said the owners had not heeded when they had raised the demands formally earlier. “That is why we went for demonstration,” he said.
The protesters will announce the next course of action following discussions after Eid.