Not an accident by the New York Times

An incorrectly captioned photo went viral in the Bangladeshi social network recently. The, Pulitzer Prize finalist, Ellen Barry, wrote a piece titled Matriarchs’ Duel for Power Threatens to Tilt Bangladesh Off Balance in NYT where a photo claimed to be of a demonstration by Bangladesh Nationalist Party, the second largest political party in Bangladesh. Let’s take a look at it.

Lucky Akhter of the Shahbag Movement in a demonstration which NYT mistakenly claimed to be a BNP demonstration

Lucky Akhter of the Shahbag Movement in a demonstration which NYT mistakenly claimed to be a BNP demonstration

Those who have the slightest idea about the famous Shahbag movement have readily recognized one of the organizers of the Gonojagoron Moncho, Lucky Akhter. She has already got famous because of the voice there. A couple of song actually mentioned her in that reference. Everyone knows that with Lucky Akhter at the foreground this photographer can be anything but not a BNP demonstration. Period.

I understand that some of my readers may still give benefit of doubt to the photographer A.M. Ahad who works for Associated Press. I agree that he may have just mistakenly captioned the picture or he may not know Lucky Akhter. Does he deserve that benefit of doubt? Let’s take a look at a conversation between him and me on February 6, 2013 – the very next day when the Shahbag Movement started. For privacy issue, I have masked his phone number and email address.

When Ahad made his very first report on Shahbag Movement he did the same thing. He mislabelled  the photograph and when I sent him an email raising the issue he just lied.

Subject: Caption of one of your photographs


Abu Mohammad Omar Shehab Uddin Ayub <> Wed, Feb 6, 2013 at 11:16 PM To: “A.M. Ahad” <>

Hi Ahad,

Thank you very much for the information. Just to verify, please tell me the name of the members of Bangladesh Chatra League you know. I will try to match the head count and see whether your claim is accurate. I understand that it will be difficult to name thousands of activist. Please at least tell the names of the Chatra League members who held a microphone and gave a speech. If the 50% of the people who gave speeches are from Chatro League I will try to extrapolate it for the whole attendance.

You are not the only one I know who was present there. I am surprised to see that ALL OTHER people I know who were at Shahbag had a totally different experience. I would love to see the whole picture. Thanks again for your reply.



PhD student, Dept. of CSEE

(443) xxx – xxxx

On Wed, Feb 6, 2013 at 11:02 PM, A.M. Ahad <> wrote:

Hello Mr. Shehab,

Thanks for your mail. Brother, I was in spot, and I know very well who is who. Their 50% protesters are activist of Bangladesh Chatra League. I’m going journalism, I’m not vies from anyone. So make sure first.



On Thu, Feb 7, 2013 at 3:40 AM, Abu Mohammad Omar Shehab Uddin Ayub <> wrote:

Hi Mr. Ahad,

Greetings from Baltimore. I am writing this email in reference to the photograph taken by you and later published by Washington Post captioned as follows:

Feb. 6, 2013

Pro-government activists and other Bangladeshi people gather for a protest in Dhaka, Bangladesh, demanding the death penalty for Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Quader Mollah. The leader of Bangladesh’s largest Islamic party on Tuesday was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in a series of killings during the country’s 1971 war for independence.

A.M. Ahad / AP

Could you please revise the caption as to my knowledge the demonstration is not led or organized by pro-government people. Rather it is organized by pro-Bangladesh people.



PhD student,

Dept. of CSEE

(443) xxx – xxxx

— A.M.Ahad

Photojournalist xy, Shewrapara, Mirpur, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Mobile: +880171633xxxx / +880167500xxxx

I hope Ellen Barry will know sooner or later that her colleague has cheated her and it may not be the first time.

  1. Rana Banik said:

    I’m shocked by this foolish mistake done by such a eminent news paper on such a critical sensitive issue. If this thing was done deliberately & allegedly by perpetrators of some political party of Bangladesh, NYT must be in wrong path of prejudice and falsehood.
    I like this news paper as I follow their news with trust.
    But I think this was a mistake.
    though I heard photo provider was a Bangladeshi citizen named Ahad or s’thing. Then he must know this person or this kind of vigil that are going on last one year consecutively throughout the country. Then it’s a shame for those who believes in truthful, fare journalism & also for us who put our trust on’em.
    I strongly protest & hope NYT will take severe steps further.

  2. About six hours ago Ellen Barry sent me and email saying that the caption will be fixed asap.

    • আপনার পদক্ষেপের জন্য ধন্যবাদ।

I would love to know if you disagree. :)

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