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Content Analysis of Brd Mutiny

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Proposal for Masters Thesis


Mediated 'truths' of BDR incident in the national dailies of Bangladesh

Shahin Afroz

NOMA Regional master degree in journalism, media and communication

20 June 2009

Department of Mass Communication and Journalism

University of Dhaka


'Truth-telling' is one of the celebrated principles of journalism. For some newspapers, it is the first principle to maintain. But we know about the different definitions of truth. In the court, everybody has to take an oath of telling truth. We can clearly differentiate truth in more than one category from the texts of the oath: "I shall tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."

This statement confirms the presence of different truths and also the presence of partial ones. If this is the case, can or do media tell the whole truth? If not, which truths media share with audience? Do the media always stick on the same truth, or sometimes they even tell the opposing truths?

These questions got the higher concern in times of recent BDR (Bangladesh Rifles) incident in Dhaka (25-26 February 2009) and afterwards. But the answers were not easy enough and I got no satisfactory answer either. This study will try to find answers of those complex questions. The proposed study will move further than the personal interest as it will also examine the relevance of the principle of 'truth-telling' in the journalistic practice as well as the process and forces behind the making of 'truth'.

a) Objectives

The main objectives of my study are:

a) To find out the 'mediated truths' of BDR mutiny (25 to 26 February 2009)

b) To know how those truths were made and how they changed over time

c) To identify the ideas those get priority in making the 'truths'

d) To measure how far the media practiced conflict-sensitive journalism and peace journalism on that issue

b) Research questions

From the objectives of my study I have formulated my focal research questions as following:

1. What were the mediated truths of BDR incident (25 February 2009 onwards) in leading national dailies of Bangladesh?

2. To what extent were the media conflict sensitive and did practice peace journalism in BDR incident?

To find out the answer of the first question more precisely, I have included two other sub-questions:

a) What were the major ideas used in those truths?

b) How were those versions of truths made and changed over time?

c) Key concepts

'Mediated Truth':

Truth-telling is telling the fact 'accurately' and without bias. Telling the facts what is happening on the ground reality is truth. Manipulating the facts is non-truth, false and lie.

My study will use different concept of truth in the term 'mediated truth'. If anyone tell a 'lie' about the real incident, that lie also consists some truth, at least it is true that s/he lied. And this truth of his/her telling lie is also important to analyze. This conception of truth of lie in very important in the field of oral history method of research. As Alessandro Portelli (1998: 68) puts it, "...'wrong' statements are still psychologically 'true' and ... this truth may be equally as important as factually reliable accounts."

In this sense, whatever is present in media, truth or lie or anything in between or outside, as my study proposes, is the 'mediated truth'.

BDR (Bangladesh Rifles):

The Bangladesh Rifles, popularly mentioned as BDR, is a paramilitary force of Bangladesh. Main duty of this force is to maintain the security of the border. This force in the second in size only to the Bangladesh Army. Banglapedia, the national encyclopedia of Bangladesh, also writes about their duty, "Its other duties are maintaining peace in the frontier tracts, containing smuggling and illegal activities in the border, and even helping the government, when necessary, in maintaining law and order in the country" (Banglapedia, 2006). "Its importance is no less than that of the army." Banglapedia tells, BDR is, "the successor force to the East Pakistan Rifles (EPR). The EPR itself was established in 1947 as a successor force to the Eastern Frontier Rifles which was established in 1920.

In the short entry of the BDR, Bangladesh Asiatic Society did not forget to include their participation in the war of liberation in 1971: "Consequent upon the army crackdown of 25 March 1971 the Bangali members of the EPR, after putting some initial resistance, escaped to safety and joined the war of liberation" (Banglapedia, 2006). Top officials of this force are recruited from the Bangladesh Army. 'BDR members' suggests only the soldiers and low rank officers to Deputy Assistant Director (DAD), not the army members working in BDR.

BDR incident (25-26 February 2009):

By the term 'BDR incident', this study will suggest those occurrences happened in the BDR headquarter at Pilkhana, Dhaka, on 25 to 26 February 2009. The events happened following that incident has been included as well.

In short, the incident started on 25 February (morning); lasted for around 36 hours; Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina delivered a speech to the nation on 26 February; BDR soldiers surrendered their arms after that speech and the army captured the BDR headquarter. Since the incident of 25 and 26 February was mentioned in the media as both mutiny and killing, use of 'mutiny/killing' or only 'mutiny'/ 'killing' in several places will mean the same incident without being bias.

Review of literature

In a very few



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