The Reporters Without Borders on Tuesday called on the Bangladeshi authorities to ensure that Shafiqul Kajol, a journalist who remained missing for the past week, was traced at the earliest.
The organisation also demanded to drop the criminal defamation complaint against Shafiqul and two other journalists at once.
A photojournalist and editor of the Dhaka-based Bangla-language biweekly Pakkhakal Shafiqul Islam Kajol was last seen near Hatilpool in Dhaka at about 7:00pm on March 10.
His son Monorom Polok told Reporters Without Borders, better known as RSF, that the family reported him missing in a missing complaint that they filed the next day with Chawkbazar police station as their residence falls under its jurisdiction, the organisation.
After the police reported on March 15 that they had found CCTV footage showing Kajol leaving his office at 7:00pm, his son tried to follow up the initial missing report with a more formal complaint so that the police would begin an official investigation.
‘But the Chawkbazar police station told him that they could not handle the case because the CCTV footage was not from their jurisdiction. And the New Market police station, which covers the area where Kajol’s office is located, said they could not handle the case because Kajol does not live in their area,’ the statement read.
‘As a result, the investigation is stalled,’ the statement read.
‘It is intolerable that the Dhaka police are treating Shafiqul Islam Kajol’s disappearance in such a careless manner’, said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.
‘We urge home minister Asaduzzaman Khan to do everything possible to ensure that he is found as quickly as possible or else Khan will be held responsible for anything that happens to him,’ he said.
Bastard added, ‘Various circumstances indicate that he was abducted in connection with his work as a journalist, especially the absurd defamation complaint brought against him just before he went missing’.
The day before he disappeared, Kajol learned that he and 31 other people, including Matiur Rahman Chowdhury, the editor of the daily newspaper Manabzamin, and one of Manabzamin’s reporters Al-Amin, were the subject of a criminal defamation complaint in which they were all facing the possibility of a 14-year jail sentence.
Brought by ruling party MP, Saifuzzaman Shikhor under the Digital Security Act, the complaint accuses them of publishing ‘false, fabricated and defamatory news’ about the alleged involvement of well-known figures in a female escort service at a luxury Dhaka hotel.
Manabzamin repeatedly mentioned that they did not mention anyone’s name in their report published on March 2.
RSF has been condemning the Digital Security Act’s draconian provisions since January 2018.
Meanwhile, friends of Kajol will form a human chain in front of the National Press Club in Dhaka at 11:00am today while another human chain will be formed at 4:00pm in front of the National Museum in Dhaka seeking immediate tracing the whereabouts of Kajol.
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