Protests on for judicial probe, DSA repeal

Staff Correspondent | Published: 00:07, Mar 01,2021


Mushtaq Ahmed

Different political, rights and student organisations on Sunday continued protests for the third consecutive day against the death of writer Mushtaq Ahmed in jail and demanded scrapping of the controversial Digital Security Act.

They also demanded the immediate release of the arrested ones in Dhaka and Khulna for protesting at the death of Mushtaq in custody and said that the state could not avoid the responsibility of Mushtaq’s death while he was in jail custody in a case under the DSA.

Mushtaq, arrested in early May 2020 in a case filed under the Digital Security Act with the capital’s Ramna police station, died at Kashimpur High Security Jail on February 25 evening. He was refused bail six times  during his detention for over nine months.

On Saturday afternoon, left student organisations and civic group leaders under the platform ‘Bangladesh Demanding Freedom of Speech’ staged a demonstration titled ‘We want freedom of life and speech’ at the capital’s Shahbagh protesting at Mushtaq’s death in custody and demanding scrapping of the DSA.

From the protest programme, Bangladesh Students’ Union leader Meghmallar Bose announced a plan to lay siege to the home ministry on Monday at 11:00am to press home their demand of releasing their fellow protesters arrested on Friday evening from a torch procession at Shahbagh.

They demanded the immediate release of the detained seven protesters — student leader Nazir Amin Chawdhury Joy, Tamjid Haydar Chancal, Joyti Chakrabarty, Nazifa Zannat, Tanzim Rafi, Akif Rafi, Arafat Sadh and garment workers’ leader Ruhul Amin.

The programme titled ‘Jan O Jobaner Swadhinata Chai’ was held in front of the Bangladesh National Museum of the area under the banner of ‘Bak Swadhinatar Dabite Bangladesh’ around 5:00pm.

BSU leader Meghmallar Bose conducted the programme while Communists Party of Bangladesh general secretary Shah Alam, Ganosamhati Andolan chief coordinator Zonayed Saki, writer Rahnuma Ahmed, DU Economics department Professor MM Akash, Jahangirnagar University economics department Professor Anu Muhammad, Biplobi Chhatra Moitri’s president Iqbal Kabir addressed the rally.

Speakers from yesterday’s protest programme also demanded the release of labour leader Nurul Amin.

Terming the government ‘fascist’ and ‘autocratic’, Zonayed Saki said, ‘To remain in power without people’s consent is humiliating for the citizens.’

‘The government is repressing their opponents and critics by imposing state power while the political process and institutions of the country are gradually fading away,’ he added.

Nine left political parties staged a demonstration in the afternoon in front of the National Press Club demanding a neutral investigation into and justice for the death of Mushtaq, scrapping of the DSA, the immediate release of Khulna Jute Mill movement leader Ruhul Amin arrested under the DSA and the release of seven protesting students arrested in the capital’s Shahbagh area during a torch procession on Friday evening.

The parties were Jatiya Mukti Council, Bangladesher Samajtantrik Dal (Marxist, central study circle forum), Naya Ganatantrik Ganamorcha, Jatiya Ganafront, Ganamukti Union, Bangladesher Samajtantrik Party, Jatiya Ganatantrik Ganamancha, BSD (Mahbub) and Communist Union.

Addressing the rally as the chair, Jatiya Mukti Council secretary Faizul Hakim alleged that writer Mushtaq’s death in jail was a murder by the state and all the responsibilities fall on the government.

He wanted to know whether the death of an arrested one under the DSA in jail was a parameter of development.

Today, Bangladesh Cartoonist Association demanded the immediate release of cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore and a ban of the DSA. They held a rally on Sunday at 11:30am in front of the National Museum.

Cartoonists Nasreen Sultana Mitu, Abu Hasan,  Mehedi Haque, Reesham Shahab Tirtho and Mahatab Rashid were present at the rally.

Bangladesh Labour Party chairman Mustafizur Rahman Iran and acting secretary general Faruque Rahman, in a statement, demanded scrapping of the DSA, a judicial enquiry into the death of writer Mushtaq and the immediate release of all the detained people under the DSA.

They said that the government’s fascist character was unearthed through the oppression on the protesters of Mushtaq’s ‘murder on state patronisation’.

Rights organisation Ain O Salish Kendra, in a statement, condemned the police attack on the activists protesting against the death of Mushtaq and for arresting protesters. The rights organisation also demanded the immediate release of the arrested protesters.

Another rights organisation Odhikar, in a statement, expressed its deep concern over Mushtaq’s death.

Mentioning the police attack and arrest of anti-government student organization activists in Dhaka when they brought out a rally in protest of his death and to demand the repeal of the DSA, Odhikar said, ‘During the tenure of the present authoritarian government, freedom of speech, conscience, thought and rights of the citizens are being severely violated.  People from different walks of life, including writers, cartoonists, journalists, photographers, university teachers, and opposition political leaders, lawyers and human rights activists are being arrested under the repressive Digital Security Act, 2018 and they are also being held in overcrowded prisons, where medical facilities are inadequate.’

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