The family wants to get the detained journalist released first and then plans legal steps
"I'll be back in two days. Don't worry. Stay with your grandparents." This is what detained journalist Rozina Islam could muster to say to her eight-year-old daughter over the phone as she put on a brave face before she was taken to jail.
Family members of the Prothom Alo senior correspondent, who landed in jail on Tuesday in a case filed on charges of information theft, said the child is yet to be informed about the real story behind her mother's delay in returning home.
The journalist’s mother, Taslima Begum, told Bangla Tribune that she spoke to Rozina Islam over the phone first and asked her to tell her daughter that she will be back in two days.
Taslima said she came to Islam’s home on Monday morning to babysit and the journalist and her husband Monirul Islam Mintu went out around 1:30pm to get the Covid-19 vaccine.
The grandmother had planned to go back to her home later in the evening after the couple returns, but that did not happen in the end.
Taslima Begum said her daughter had informed her about going to the Health Ministry after getting the vaccine and their world shook to the core around 4pm after the family learned what was happening.
She said: “Rozina spoke to her daughter over the phone when her husband called on Wednesday. She told her she will be back in two days. She asked her not to worry and to stay with us [grandparents] until she returns home.”
The journalist’s brother, Md Selim Mia, said: “We did not let the child know what is happening. Hopefully, we’ll be able to hide it from her until we bring Rozina back.”
Taslima said: “We are trying to keep my granddaughter busy and not letting her watch the television or the mobile phone. We don’t want the child to see her brave journalist mother crying or surrounded by police.”
Responding to a query, the brother added: “The issue of starting a case is in our mind, but our priority is to get Rozina released from jail. We have to bring her home first. Then we will take action.”
He also said that the whole family was currently staying at Rozina Islam’s house.
Islam, an investigative journalist known for her reports on corruption, went to the Health Ministry at the secretariat on Monday afternoon to perform her professional duties.
She was reportedly detained and harassed there for more than six hours for allegedly stealing and illegally photographing important official documents. At one point she fell ill. Later, she was handed over to Shahbagh police and she was taken to the station from the secretariat around 8:30pm.
A case was also filed against her at Shahbagh police station later at night by a deputy secretary of the Health Services Division.
On Tuesday morning, Islam was taken to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court of Dhaka, which rejected the police’s plea for a five-day remand and sent her to jail until her bail hearing on Thursday.
Later in the afternoon, she was taken to the Kashimpur Women’s Central Jail in Gazipur.
Meanwhile, since the news of her detention at the ministry broke on Monday, journalists in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country launched protests – condemning her arrest and the case and demanded her immediate release.
Many journalist organisations morning also demonstrated in the capital city and many other districts on Wednesday, demanding Rozina Islam’s unconditional release.
The Health Ministry on Tuesday evening had also formed a three-member committee to look into the whole incident at the secretariat and Islam’s handover to police.