Civil rights activists on Friday condemned the arrest of Jatri Kalyan Samiti secretary general Mojammel Huq Chowdhury and said that it was just a flagrant abuse of power.
They said that the allegation of extortion brought against the road safety campaigner was ‘fabricated’ and ‘fake’.
The allegation was brought against Mojammel to repress his voice for road safety and against the anarchy in the transport sector, they added.
Mojammel was arrested at his Narayanganj house early Thursday in an extortion case, filed with Mirpur police station by a ‘transport leader’.
He was remanded in police custody on Thursday for interrogation.
His lawyer and his organisation members denied the allegation against him and said that he was arrested on a fabricated charge.
While talking to New Age on Friday, rights activist Sultana Kamal said that she was ‘stunned’ to see the news of his arrest and the way he had been treated by the law enforcers.
‘We came to know from media that a man, who filed the complaint against Mojammel, said that he did not know anything about the charges brought against Mojammel as he just signed some papers presented before him by others,’ Sultana said.
‘We understand that a fake case has been filed against him,’ she said, adding, ‘It’s an example of flagrant abuse of power.’
‘The way Mojammel was handcuffed and remanded was inacceptable. I demand his immediate release,’ she added.
Rights organisation Odhikar secretary Adilur Rahman Khan said that the authorities concerned arrested Mojammel to repress his campaign for road safety.
‘He carries out movement for passengers; he is vocal against the anarchy in the transport sector. The arrest has been made to stop his activities. We demand his immediate release,’ he added.
Jurist Shahdeen Malik said that he expected a fair investigation into the allegation brought against Mojammel.
‘The police can arrest an accused person; but, I expect a fair investigation into the allegation. We cannot say anything before the investigation,’ he added.
Human Rights Forum Bangladesh, in a statement on Friday, expressed concern over the arrest of Mojammel on a ‘fabricated charge’.
The organisation said that Mojammel might have created some problems for the transport owners, workers and the government and the arrest took place as a consequence of his activities.
Bangladesh Jatri Adhikar Sangrakkan Parishad, a platform working for passengers’ safety, and Citizens Rights Movement also alleged that the charge brought against Mojammel was fake and demanded his immediate release.
Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan, at a function at the Institute of Engineers, Bangladesh on Friday, said that the authorities concerned were investigating allegation against Mojammel.
Mojammel’s organisation, Jatri Kalyan Samiti, is vocal on road safety issues. It regularly publishes information on casualties and causes of road accidents. The organisation, at its latest press conference on August 30, said that at least 259 people were killed and 960 were injured in 237 road accidents in August 16-28.
Mojammel’s arrest came weeks after the student protests demanding road safety.
Several thousand students took to the streets across the country for nine days after two of their fellows were killed and 12 others were injured as a Jabal-e-Nur bus plough through a crowd of students in the capital’s Kurmitola area on July 29.
Several people, including acclaimed photographer Shahidul Alam, were arrested reportedly for extending supports to the student protects. Shahidul Alam was arrested after he gave an interview to Doha-based television channel Al Jazeera on August 5 on the student protests for road safety.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Country