Acclaimed photographer and social activist Shahidul Alam was freed on bail on Tuesday evening after spending 108 days in Dhaka Central Jail.
Shahidul Alam was released at 8.30PM after receiving the order from the chief metropolitan magistrate, Dhaka Central Jail’s senior superintendent Iqbal Kabir Chowdhury told New Age.
Lawyers said that Shahidul Alam’s detention under fabricated charges under the draconian ICT Act highlighted the arbitrariness of the authorities to deny bail and justice to detained citizens without trial.
Lawyers, friends and students received Shahidul Alam at the gate of Dhaka Central Jail at Keraniganj.
On the night of August 5, the Detective Branch of Dhaka Metropolitan Police picked up Shahidul Alam from his Dhanmondi residence without showing any warrant or any reason.
His lawyers informed the High Court Division that 63-year old Shahidul Alam being beaten up and tortured by the police was unable to walk though earlier he was physically fit.
Fifteen hours after he was picked, the DB filed a case against him with the Ramna police station under the draconian Information and Communication Technology Act on the allegation that he had instigated school children’s road safety movement in an interview with Al Jazeera and the video he had posted on Facebook live.
Internationally acclaimed writers, intellectuals, journalists, photographers, right activists demanded Shahidul Alam’s release.
On November 15, the High Court Division granted Shahidul Alam’s bail after its three benches time and again refused to hear his bail application pending since August 27.
Shahidul Alam’s counsels and Barristers Sara Hossain and Jyotirmoy Barua told New Age that the jail authorities illegally detained Shahidul Alam for more than ten hours after receiving the release order citing the ground that a mistake occurred in his address mentioned in the release order.
They said that Shahidul Alam should have been released on Monday.
On Monday, the CMM declined to issue the release order before knowing the fate of the government’s appeal to stay his release on bail.
When contacted, attorney general Mahbubey Alam told New Age, ‘I have no instruction to move the appeal in the Appellate Division.’
At 10.AM on Tuesday the CMM issued Shahidul Alam’s release order but the jail superintendent refused to release him on the plea that address mentioned in the release order did not match his address mentioned in the jail records as given by the magistrate.
Lawyers found the ground as quite silly as the release order mentioned his present address while the jail record mentioned his permanent address as provided by the police.
The jail superintendent refused to release Shahidul Alam until the release order was corrected by the CMM.
As the CMM was delaying his release, Shahidul Alam’s counsels Sara Hossain, Ramjan Ali Sikder and Jyotirmoy Barua drew the attention to High Court Division bench of Justice Sheikh Abdul Awal and Justice Bhishmadev Chakrabortty which asked the Supreme Court registrar general Md Zakir Hossain to look into the matter.
The bench granted Shahidul Alam’s bail on November 15.
Later, the CMM corrected the release order and sent it to the Dhaka Central Jail at about 6PM.
Shahidul Alam was put up in the ordinary jail ward by denying division 1 he was entitled to.
Later following a High Court directive he was shifted to division 1 cell of the prison.
Attorney general sought time 18 times on various excuse and opposed Shahidul Alam’s bail citing the ground that he committed sedition by call to oust the government in an interview with Al Jazeera.
But the High Court Division found out that the allegation made by the DB against Shahidul Alam had no basis as his interview with Al Jazeera and Facebook’s live showed.
The inconsistencies became clear after the case investigation officer showed the video footages to the bench.
A bench of Justice AKM Asaduzzaman and Justice SM Mozibur Rahman, however, dropped Shahidul Alam’s bail application from day’s cause list and advised his lawyers to move it in another bench.
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