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Photographer Shahidul Alam remanded for seven days in ICT case

  • Published at 11:36 am August 6th, 2018
File photo: Police escort Drik Gallery founder and celebrated photographer Shahidul Alam out of Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court after he was remanded in an ICT case on Monday, August 6, 2018 Dhaka Tribune

The celebrated photographer was picked up from his home in Dhanmondi on Sunday night

Drik founder and famed photographer Shahidul Alam has been remanded for seven days in a case filed under the ICT Act's Section 57(2).

Dhaka Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Md Asaduzzaman Noor ordered his remand on Monday, after he was produced before his court by Detective Branch (DB) of police's Inspector Arman Ali.

The court also rejected a bail plea submitted by Shahidul's lawyer Barrister Sara Hossain.

Md Masudur Rahman, deputy commissioner (DC) (media) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), earlier in the day had said that they would seek a 10-day remand for Shahidul.

Shahidul was picked up from his Dhanmondi home on Sunday night by DB police officials for interrogation.

He was taken to the DB office on Monday morning.

"We have brought him here to interrogate him regarding his student-protest-related Facebook posts," DC Masudur said.

Shahidul’s partner Rehnuma Ahmed said that she was asked to come to the DB’s Mintoo Road office in the afternoon.

She said a DB officer told her that Shahidul was charged under the ICT Act and he would be produced before a court on Monday.

On Saturday and Sunday, the photographer had gone live on Facebook several times to discuss clashes in the city's Jigatola area between students demonstrating for safer roads and police and allegedly activists of ruling party affiliate organizations.

Also Read- Return Shahidul unhurt, family and friends urge government

Shahidul, who is the founder of the Pathshala South Asian Media Institute, also discussed these issues and criticized the government during an interview with Al Jazeera on Sunday.

According to the first information report, filed by DB (north division) Inspector Mehedi Hasan with the Ramna police station, Shahidul was charged under the ICT Act because he used electronic media to instigate disorder in the country and spread fabricated information and rumours via social media.

The FIR also mentioned that his remarks were aimed at worsening the law and order situation, tarnishing the image of the country and hurting the sentiments of students by spreading rumours.

Inspector Mehedi said a DB team, along with the Dhanmondi police, picked Shahidul Alam up around 11:30pm Sunday. Police also seized three mobile phones.  

Students of different education institutions have been out on the streets since July 29, demanding safer roads and justice for Shaheed Ramiz Uddin Cantonment School and College students Diya Khanam Mim and Abdul Karim Rajib who were killed and those several injured in a road accident on Dhaka’s Airport Road, when a speeding bus of Jabal-e-Noor Paribahan ploughed into a group of students.

For the last six days, the ongoing street movement by students demonstrating for road safety was largely peaceful, except for some incidents that included vandalism.

Also Read- Photographer Shahidul Alam picked up from his home

The situation worsened on Saturday afternoon, with violence fuelled by rumour-mongering, claims, and counter-claims on social media.

Amnesty International, CPJ condemn Shahidul’s arrest

Global rights watchdog Amnesty International and Committee for Protecting Journalists have condemned the arrest of Shahidul Alam and urged authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally.   

Shahidul Alam must be immediately and unconditionally released. There is no justification whatsoever for detaining anyone for solely peacefully expressing their views. His arrest marks a dangerous escalation of a crackdown by the government that has seen the police and vigilantes unleash violence against student protesters, said Omar Waraich, Amnesty International’s deputy South Asia director.

He also urged the Bangladeshi government to end the crackdown on the student protesters and people for speaking out against it. 

The students have a right to peaceful assembly and physical security. These rights should be respected and protected, and there should be an immediate and effective investigation into the use of force by police, the violent actions of pro-government vigilantes who also attacked the students, and why the police did nothing to stop them, he said.

As Bangladesh heads towards elections later this year, it is crucial that the government adheres to its international obligations, including the protection of the rights to freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly and security of persons, said Waraich.

Meanwhile, Committee for Protecting Journalists, an international body that promotes press freedom worldwide, also urged the government to release Shahidul immediately.

"Bangladesh authorities must immediately release Shahidul Alam without charge," said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Steven Butler in Washington, DC.

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