Businessman, cartoonist sent to jail in Bangladesh for social media posts

Muktadir Rashid | Published: 14:00, May 06,2020 | Updated: 22:19, May 07,2020


Didarul Islam Bhuiyan, left, Kishore Kabir, centre, and Mushtaq Ahmed, right. -- Facebook photo

Businessman Mushtaq Ahmed and cartoonist Ahammed Kabir Kishore were sent to jail on Wednesday and Dhaka Stock Exchange director Minhaz Mannan Emon and Rastra Chinta organiser Didarul Islam Bhuiyan showed arrested a day after they had reportedly been picked up in a case filed under the Digital Security Act allegedly for spreading ‘rumours’.

In the case filed with Ramna police station Tuesday night, Rapid Action Battalion deputy assistant director Abu Bakar Siddique also named Sweden-based Netra News editor Tasneem Khalil, US-based journalist Shahed Alam, I am Bangladesh’s Facebook page admin Saer Zulkarnain, Germany-based blogger Asif Mohiuddin, Shapan Wahid, Ashiq Imran and Phillipp Schuhmacher, and six unnamed people, for ‘sullying’ the image of the country’s founding president Sheikh Mojibur Rahman, ‘hurting’ the spirit of the liberation war, and spreading rumours about COVID-19, army and other security forces among others, on social media.

Metropolitan magistrate Mahmuda Akhter sent Facebook-based critic Mushtaq and cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishor to Dhaka Central Jail Wednesday afternoon.

‘We did not seek time to interrogate them now considering the situation,’ said Ramna police station officer-in-charge Monirul Islam.

Cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishor, also known as Kishor Kabir, runs a Facebook page called Ami Khishor, where he began profiling ‘life in the time of corona’ while Mushtaq started spreading anti-state propaganda, said the complaint.

The battalion claimed that Mushtaq named Minhaz and Didarul.

It claimed that it found ‘anti-state chatting’ in their WhatsApp and messengers of Mushtaq, Minhaz and Didarul.

Later in the evening, Ramna zone assistant commissioner SM Shamim said that Minhaz and Didarul were handed over to them by RAB-3 following their arrest at Ramna at about 6:00pm on Wednesday.

They would be produced before the court today.

In the complaint, the battalion official included 60 pages of screenshots as evidence against the suspects and one compact disc and a 2-page list of articles seized and details of the Facebook profiles, including the URLs.

‘I am Bangladeshi’ posted a good number of cartoons in the recent weeks mocking politicians belonging to different parties and a top businessperson.

In the early hours on Monday, some people introducing themselves as RAB-3 members first picked up Mushtaq from Lalmatia and Didarul from his house in Uttar Badda on Tuesday.

The cartoonist was also picked up by Tuesday night form Ramna area, according to the police.

Mushtaq, who goes by his penname Michel Kumir Thakur, was critical on social media over the government’s poor management in tackling COVID-19. The FIR alleged that he was one of the administrators of I am Bangladeshi.

Minhaz is also managing director of BLI Securities Limited in Dhaka and Platinum Securities Ltd in Chattogram Stock Exchange.

When approached Tuesday evening, his cousin and education minister Dipu Moni denied commenting.

His wife Ivy Anwar said that her husband went out of his house Tuesday noon after receiving a call and his whereabouts were unknown until Wednesday afternoon. 

On Tuesday night, battalion personnel arrived at their house and took away a laptop used by the family members, the family said.

On Wednesday, Rastra Chinta, a civil rights platform campaigning for good governance, called the government to immediately return unhurt their member Didarul who was picked up from his Badda house Tuesday evening.

The Rastra Chinta’s Dhaka unit member Hasnat Quaiyum on Wednesday morning, in an online press conference, also called on the people to mobilise protests for the release of their activist who was coordinating relief distribution and training volunteers.

He also called on the government to ‘return’ Didarul unhurt.

Didarul’s family, in a press conference, said that Didarul was picked by a dozen of plainclothes people introducing themselves as RAB-3 members just before iftar in the capital’s Badda area.

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