Family, friends and colleagues on Monday demanded immediate and unconditional release of Shahidul Alam, an internationally acclaimed photographer and social activist, picked up from his home by detectives Sunday night.
Speaking at a press conference at Drik gallery around noon, they complained about police denying them any information on Shahidul since he was picked up.
Later in the afternoon police showed Shahidul arrested in connection with a case filed over ICT act.
‘We demand immediate and unconditional release of Shahidul,’ said writer Rahnuma Ahmed, wife of Shahidul.
Shahidul, founder of Drik and Pathshala South Asian Media Institute, was picked up amid ongoing protests by students for safer roads.
Shahidul went live on Facebook discussing the protests and was also interviewed by Doha-based Al Jazeera on the issue.
‘In the television interview, Shahidul offered his analysis of the situation in Bangladesh which should in no way be the reason to treat a person of his stature this way,’ said Shirin Haque, a colleague of Shahidul.
Rahnuma recounted moments leading up to Shahidul’s detention around 10:00pm on Sunday to accuse the law enforcers of abduction.
Quoting security guards and witnesses, she said 32 to 35 men in plainclothes, who claimed to be from the Detective Branch, forced their way into their apartment building, went upstairs, and brought down Shahidul, who was screaming as he was forcibly pushed into the waiting minivan, a HiAce.
She claimed that the plainclothes taped the CCTV camera, and took away the footage keeping the guards confined.
After learning from newspaper reports that Shahidul was taken to DB office in the capital for questioning, Rahnuma said that they had rushed there but did not get any information about her husband.
‘We spent the rest of the night outside the office of DB (detective branch) in vain,’ said Rahnuma.
Shahidul’s lawyer Sara Hossain said that her request for information about her colleague was not entertained by the police.
She also complained about non-cooperation from police in having a case filed over the illegal detention of her client.
‘The way law enforcers are behaving goes against constitution and guidelines issued by the High Court on how law enforcers should act while detaining an individual,’ said Sara.
Ganasanghati Andolan chief coordinator Zonayed Saki alleged that the law enforcers were overstepping laws to crackdown on people, including children, who may have supported the ongoing student movement.
‘It won’t help the country anyway,’ said Zonayed Saki.
Professor Anu Muhammad said that it seemed the government was in a war against its own citizens.
‘The government is afraid of its citizens,’ said Anu.
‘It is afraid of its labours, its political opponents and even of children protesting at deaths of their friends,’ said Anu.
Human rights activists Khushi Kabir and Article 19 director Tahmina Rahman also spoke at the press conference.
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