Photojournalist Shafiqul Islam Kajol was found near Bangladesh-India border in Benapol of Jashore early Sunday and was sent to jail nearly two months after he went missing from capital’s Hatirpool area on March 10.
His return coincided with the World Press Freedom Day.
Shafiqul’s son Monorom Polok said he received a call from a police official from Benapol police station at about 2:48am who asked him to talk to his father and as the call ended he rushed to Jashore.
‘He is alive and he is fine,’ said Monorom while talking to New Age.
New Age correspondent in Jashore reported that senior judicial magistrate Monjurul Islam at about 5:30pm sent him to jail under Section 54 of the Code of Criminal Procedure posting for May 19 the next hearing while he was granted bail in a case on charge of ‘illegally entering Bangladesh’.
Shafiqul, a photojournalist of Daily Pakkhakal, was handcuffed behind the back and was escorted by the police to the Jashore court in the morning with a case filed by the Border Guard Bangladesh for contravening the passport law while the police in Jashore said he was accused of four more cases filed in Kamrangirchar, Sher-e-Bangla Nagor, Hazaribagh and Tejgaon police stations in Dhaka Metropolitan Police.
The BGB’s Raghunathpur camp company commander havildar Ashek Ali, filed the latest case against the photojournalist with the Benapol port police station accusing him of illegal entry, told New Age that the journalist was arrested near the international border.
‘We were on a special patrol at that time and we saw him along with two other people,’ he said, adding, ‘As we chased them he was the only one who could not escape while the rest re-entered Indian territory.’
The BGB man said, ‘He had no phone, no moneybag with him. He was only carrying a towel and a pair of sandals.’
Havildar Ashek claimed, ‘We can arrest anyone for crossing international boundary … We found him on the zero line.’
In the complaint, he, however, mentioned that Shafiqul was arrested ‘100 yards’ inside the Bangladesh territory, while he was coming from India illegally with the help of ‘middlemen’.
Benapol port police station officer-in-charge Mamun Khan said that the journalist was arrested inside Bangladesh territory and the BGB has the jurisdiction to arrest anyone roaming near the border.
The Benapol police officials said that he was named in four more cases in Dhaka and three of the cases against Shafiqul were filed under Digital Security Act by Magura lawmaker Saifuzzaman Shikhor on March 9 with Sher-e-Bangla Nagor police station, Juba Mahila League leader Usmin Arana Beli on March 10 with Hazaribagh police station and Suraiya Chowdhury Bannya on March 11 with Kamrangirchar police station.
Saifuzzaman filed a case under Digital Security Act against Shafiqul and 31 others including Manabzamin editor Matiur Rahman Chowdhury.
According to the police and family, Shafiqul was last seen at Hatirpool in Dhaka at about 7:00pm on March 10.
The police registered a missing report on March 11 while registering an abduction case with Chawkbazar police station on March 18.
Referring to a CCTV footage, Amnesty International on March 21 said that unidentified people approached his motorbike and appeared to have been tampering with it moments before his disappearance.
A police investigator in Jashore, who briefly interrogated Shafiqul Islam Kajol, said he could remember his last location near Curzon Hall in Dhaka University on March 10, but could not remember what happened until he was dropped in Jashore at about 12:30am on Sunday, blindfolded and legs and hands tied.
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