Strongly criticising activities of BNP during Coronavirus pandemic in the country, Information Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud today said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has proved that disasters like Coronavirus catastrophe could even be handled with right and farsighted leadership successfully.
"Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has proved that Covid 19 like disaster could also be tackled through proper leadership. She (Sheikh Hasina) also has made null and void all apprehensions of many experts on Coronavirus epidemic," he said while exchanging views with the leaders of Chattogram Union of Journalists (CUJ) at the circuit house here.
Hasan said the leaders and workers of Awami League did not sit for a single day. "Many leaders, ministers and lawmakers have been infected with the virus as they stood beside the countrymen," he added.
The minister said the country's people are witnessing that BNP leaders give speeches on televisions criticising the government and keeping themselves in isolation during the Coronavirus epidemic instead of standing beside countrymen.
Mentioning that many senior leaders of AL, minister and lawmakers died due to the virus. "They all stood beside the masses. Our leader Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gives us lesson to stay beside the common people during any crisis, he added.
Bangabandhu's worthy daughter Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has declared various government's packages from the very beginning of the Coronavirus, he said, adding that the premier also directed to provide supports to the journalists who are in crises during the prevailing situation.
"Journalists, who have recently become jobless, remained out of jobs and are not getting their wages for long, would come under the purview of special assistance with each getting Taka 10,000," he said.
He said the special assistance would be given as a crisis-time aid to 1,500 journalists irrespective of difference of thoughts and opinions who have fallen in financial crisis due to coronavirus pandemic in the first phase.
Other assistance would be given in phases, he added.
He said there is no such example in neighbouring countries, like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal, of providing supports to journalists.
The minister said the government also decided to provide Tk 3 lakh to the victims' (journalists) family members who have died due to the virus.
Hasan said there was long time lockdown across the country from the beginning of the Covid19 situation. Later, many organisations have run their activities on a limited scale. But, the works of journalists did not stop for a day, he added.
Terming the journalists as the front-fighters in the ongoing pandemic, the information minister said the journalists have been working risking their lives, while many of them have been infected and some died. Owners of the media houses could not run their outlets if the journalists would not work, he added.
He said, "From the very beginning, I urged the media outlets owners to give salaries and arrears to the journalists properly. Every sector was affected due to the virus. So, everyone should share and combat the situation together."
The minister said there is no country across the world which remains free from the virus and this is a global catastrophe.
The virus did not spare even any country, including the advanced ones, while Bangladesh scenario was better than many developed nations as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is doing her best to protect the lives and livelihood, he added.
Hasan said, even, the death rate is less than neighbouring states- India and Pakistan- due to proper, time-befitting and adequate steps of the government under the supervision of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
He said there were some problems including ICU and normal beds in the beginning to combat Coronavirus in Chattogram. But, now the ICU beds and normal beds of hospitals are empty, he added.
Terming newspaper and mass media as the fourth organ of the state, Hasan said media could play a pioneering role in directing the society in the right path and opening the third eye of the society. "So, everything should focus on the media," he added.
CUJ president Mohamad Ali and general secretary M Shamsul Islam handed over a memorandum to the information minister with their various demands.
Later, the minister held a meeting with the government senior officials on Covid-19 situation in Chattogram.
Chattogram City Mayor AJM Nasir Uddin, Divisional Commissioner ABM Azad, Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Ilias Hossain and Civil Surgeon Sheikh Fazle Rabbi, among others, were present in the meeting.