• Wednesday, Nov 30, 2022
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

Protest erupts over author Mushtaq's death in jail

  • Published at 06:24 am February 26th, 2021
Police disperse a torch procession taken out in protest of the death of writer Mushtaq Ahmed’s death in jail following his arrest in a Digital Security Act case at the Dhaka University campus on Friday, February 26, 2021 Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

Students occupy Shahbagh intersection in protest over writer Mushtaq Ahmed's death in jail 

Protesters, who had blocked Dhaka’s Shahbagh intersection over the death of writer Mushtaq Ahmed in jail, have announced to lay siege to the Home Ministry on Monday.

Socialist Student Front General Secretary Nasir Uddin Prince, on behalf of the protesters, confirmed the development on Friday afternoon, adding that they would bring out a vigil on Friday evening, soon after the sunset, in Shahbagh.

The new programs were announced after the protesters withdrew the blockade at the Shahbagh circle at around 12:30pm on Friday.

Hundreds of demonstrators held a peaceful protest in Dhaka’s Shahbag in the morning, but were dispersed in the evening after law enforcers used at least three rounds of tear gas shells on them.

Members of the Progressive Students’ Alliance take to the streets in Shahbagh, Dhaka on Friday, February 26, 2021, protesting the death of writer Musthaq Ahmed in Kashimpur jail the night before | Dhaka Tribune

Several left-leaning student bodies brought out a torchlight procession from the Raju Memorial Sculpture and marched towards the Shahbag intersection, where they were barred by policemen.

Police baton-charged the protesters when one of them had hurled a torch towards the policemen behind barricades, eyewitnesses said.

The agitated students then retreated and took position in front of the Dhaka University Central Mosque. Law enforcers tried to disperse the crowd, leading to an altercation. At the time, cops fired three rounds of tear gas shells, according to demonstrators.

Deputy Commissioner Sajjadur Rahman of DMP Ramna Division said: “Police dispersed the protesters in self-defence. We have detained two of them and will take necessary steps if we find them guilty.”

On the other hand, Salman Siddiqui, president of the Socialist Students’ Front’s DU unit, said at least three activists had been detained and 15 sustained injured in the police attack. Some of the injured protesters were undergoing treatment at Dhaka Medical College Hospital, he added.

Protesters hold banners demanding annulment of the Digital Security Act in Shahbagh, Dhaka on Friday, February 26, 2021, while protesting the death of writer Musthaq Ahmed in Kashimpur jail | Dhaka Tribune

Meanwhile, the prison authorities on Friday filed a case in connection with the unnatural death of Mushtaq Ahmed in prison with Joydebpur police station, informed Sub-Inspector Syed Md Bayzid of the police station.

‘Take responsibility’

The Bangladesh Chhatra Odhikar Parishad held a gayebana janaza (symbolic funeral prayer) in front of the National Museum around 3pm.

Before the prayer, former Ducsu vice-president Nurul Haque Nur asked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to take responsibility for Mushtaq’s death in the same way she took credit for the development of Bangladesh.

Ganasanghati Andolon Chief Coordinator Zonayed Saki and Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Zafrullah Chowdhury attended the prayer as well. 

They demanded that the Digital Security Act, which was “formulated to harass and kill freethinkers”, be scrapped.

Mushtaq’s namaz-e-janaza was scheduled to be held following Friday’s Esha prayers at Minar Mosque in Lalmatia C Block in Dhaka, before his burial at Azimpur Graveyard.

Members of the Progressive Students’ Alliance march in Shahbagh, Dhaka on Friday, February 26, 2021, protesting the death of writer Musthaq Ahmed in Kashimpur jail the night before Dhaka Tribune

Home minister: Mushtaq hurt sentiments of many

Talking about Mushtaq, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said: “He had lambasted the law and order situation multiple times and even attacked others’ beliefs. Many cases had been filed against him.” 

An investigation committee will be formed to look into his death, the minister added. 

‘No signs of injuries’

An autopsy Mushtaq Ahmed has been completed and doctors said they did not find any apparent signs of injuries on the body.

Shaheed Tajuddin Ahmad Medical College Hospital Forensic Department head Dr Shafi Mohaimen said: “Apparently, there were no signs of injuries on Mushtaq’s body. Further details can be disclosed after the autopsy report is submitted.”


Mushtaq was not able to meet his wife, Lipa Akter, even once in the 10 months since his imprisonment. They just talked over the phone several times. 

She burst into tears when his body was taken to their Lalmatia residence around 12pm. “Now I have to live with only the memories he left behind,” she lamented. 

The deceased’s brother, Dr Nafisur Rahman, told reporters that they would not file a case in this connection.

Remand plea filed for Mushtaq 2 days before death

The Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) filed a plea seeking three days' remand for writer Mushtaq Ahmed in a case filed under the Digital Security Act, just two days before his death in jail.

Investigating officer SI Afsor Ahmed of the internet referral team of the CTTC in the plea also included cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore, another accused in the case, before the Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court on Tuesday.

Dhaka Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Md Abu Bakar Siddique set February 28 for hearing the petition and asked the authorities concerned to produce the two people before the court from prison, General Recording Officer Nizam Uddin told Dhaka Tribune on Friday.

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