Journalist beaten, jailed in overnight drive

Muktadir Rashid in Dhaka and Zakir Hossain in Rangpur | Updated at 12:47am on March 15, 2020

images

Ariful Islam Regan

The government on Saturday launched an inquiry into the detention, torture in custody and jailing of Bangla Tribune’s journalist Ariful Islam Regan by a mobile court during an overnight an anti-narcotics drive in Kurigram on Saturday.

The incident triggered widespread condemnation and journalists said it was happened apparently for reporting on corruption against the district administration. 

‘We will take necessary action once we get the inquiry report,’ said Abdul Gaffar Khan, an additional secretary (field administration) at the public administration ministry.

Main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party condemned the arrest of the journalist and sending him to jail while Supreme Court lawyer Syed Mohidul Kabir served a legal notice on the public administration secretary and home secretary, and deputy commissioner and superintendent of police of Kurigram.

Panir Uddin Ahamed, member of parliament for Kurigram 2, also the member of the parliamentary standing committee on public administration ministry, alleged that the deputy commissioner took bribe from people for recruitment in her office and he had requested the government to remove her from the post in the past.

Magistrate Rintu Bikash Chakma, who led the drive, claimed that Ariful Islam was possessing narcotic substances at the time of arrest and was jailed for one year after he had pleaded guilty. 

Ariful’s wife Mostarima Sardar, however, told New Age that the mobile court officials broke into home at dead of night, beat up Arif and took him away forcefully.

‘They did not find any drugs,’ she said. ‘As my husband was asking for the reason behind the attack on Friday midnight, they were beating him and were repeatedly saying “you will be shot dead” and “you have been disturbing us for a long time”,’ she said.

Mostarima said that the Kurigram deputy commissioner Sultana Parveen had a pond excavated and renamed it after her own name and Ariful had reported about this.

He had also posted a comment against the district administration on Facebook regarding irregularities in certain appointments. That spelt disaster for him, Mostarima said.

Mostarima said that they were called in to the deputy commissioner’s office in Saturday where the assistant commissioner Nazimuddin warned them against getting into any confrontation.

Nazimuddin denied making any comment on the issue.

Executive magistrate Rintu Bikash Chakma said that a taskforce comprising the police, Ansar and the narcotics control directorate carried out the raid based on specific allegations.

He admitted his guilt in presence of the mobile court, the magistrate said, and was then sentenced to one year imprisonment and Tk 50,000 fine.

After being picked up from his home in Chuapara of Kurigram town on Friday midnight, Arif was sentenced and sent to jail.

The Kurigram deputy commissioner Sultana Parveen denied allegations against her and said, ‘No pond has been named after me. Ariful made such a report about a year ago and later even apologised to me. That is not an issue.’

‘The task force went on a regular drive. At the request from the narcotics control office, the task force was formed with one of my magistrates, a few policemen, five of the Ansar battalion and three of the narcotics officers. They had a written complaint and carried out the raid accordingly. It was the narcotics office that requested a magistrate from us,’ Sultana Parveen said.

Journalists formed a human chain in front of the Shahid Minar on Saturday noon demanding unconditional immediate release of Ariful.

Bangla Tribune chief reporter Udisa Islam said that they had informed law minister Anisul Huq and the authorities concerned about the matter. They would take legal steps for Ariful Islam, she said.