Cartoonist, writer arrested under digital security act; 11 accused in case

The Daily Star  May 06, 2020
Star Online Report

Rapid Action Battalion arrested cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore and writer Mushtaq Ahmed under Digital Security Act, allegedly for making anti-government posts on Facebook, from the capital’s Kakrail and Lalmatia area yesterday.

A team of Rab-3 handed them over to Ramna Police Station, Monirul Islam, officer-in-charge of the police station told The Daily Star this morning. Rab-3 also confirmed the matter.

Jamshedul Islam, investigation officer of the case, said the duo were arrested on charge of posting anti-government content on Facebook.

Besides Kishore and Mushtaq, nine others have also been made accused in the case. They are: IT specialist Didarul Islam Bhuiyan, Minhaz Mannan Emon, journalists Tasnim Khalil and Shahed Alam, Saer Zulkarnain, Ashiq Imran, Phillipp Schuhmacher, Shapan Wahid, and Asif Mohiuddin.

According to the case statement, a Facebook page named “I am Bangladeshi” is “trying to circulate propaganda and create confusion”.

According to Rab, Saer Zulkarnain, Kishore, Ashiq Imran, Phillipp Schuhmacher, Shapan Wahid and Mushtaq are the five admins who have been running the page.

Kishore was picked up from Kakrail area while Mushtaq was picked up from his Lalmatia home yesterday, the police officer said adding that they will be produced before court today.

Kishore, who introduced himself as a political cartoonist, posted several cartoons and posters on his Facebook account “Ami Kishore”, criticising the government over the coronavirus situation. Mushtaq also shared some of Kishore’s cartoons on his Facebook profile.

Lipa Akhter, Mushtaq’s wife, told The Daily Star, “Around 5 large vehicles with Rab personnel showed up at our residence in Lalmatia in the early hours of Monday, around 1:44 am. They said that they are from Rab-3. They took away Mushtaq around 3am and since then we had no idea where he was, or where he was being taken.”

“Around 3:30am last night, two days after he was picked up, I received a call from Ramna police station saying that my husband is with them and that I was to come over to the police station and give him food,” she added.

Mushtaq who writes under the pen name “Michel Kumir Thakur”, was critical of the “poor management in tackling the Covid-19 situation and the government” on social media.

He wrote a book titled “Kumir Chasher Diary” which was published in November 2018 and was working on another book.

Meanwhile Didarul Bhuiyan, an activist of a platform called ‘Rashtrachinta’, was supposedly picked up from his house in Dhaka’s North Badda yesterday evening.

Contacted last night, Lt Col Md Sarwar-Bin-Quasem, director (Legal and Media) of Rab, told The Daily Star that an operation was underway and they would inform media after its completion.

He, however, did not disclose details.

An official of Rab-3, said “We got information that Didarul might be associated with them [Kishore and Mushtaq]. But as per my knowledge, he has not been arrested yet.”

A family source said, some people came in two black microbuses before iftar. They were in plainclothes, but introduced themselves as Rab-3 members. He further added that “Didarul was being taken for interrogation”.

Didarul has his office of ‘ABAC Technologies’, an outsourcing IT farm, located on the fifth floor of the same building. He wrote some critical posts on the state’s decision to deal with coronavirus, controversy over masks and the distribution of funds and relief.

At a press conference held live from Rashtrochinta office premises this morning, the organisation’s member and a lawyer at the Supreme Court, Hasnat Qaiyyum, said, “We are requesting that Didarul be handed over to the police, if there is any allegation against him. If there are no allegations, he should be released.” Didarul’s family was present at the press conference.

OC (investigation) Zahirul Islam of Ramna Police Station said, “This is a case under the Digital Security Act against 11 people in total. We only have Kishore and Mushtaq at our police station. Neither Didarul nor anyone else has been arrested yet.”


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