Tito Chandra Roy, who reportedly defamed Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) through a Facebook post and triggered a communal attack in Rangpur’s Thakurpara village, has allegedly confessed in court under mysterious circumstances to making the post on the social networking site.
He was brought to the district’s Chief Judicial Magistrate’s Court around 11am on Tuesday in secret by police and later taken to Rangpur Central Jail in the afternoon about five and a half hours later in the same manner.
No Detective Branch (DB) of police and court police officials talked to the media on the record about producing Tito before the court and later taking him to jail.
However, a DB official, asking not to be named, told the Dhaka Tribune that Tito gave a confessional statement to Senior Judicial Magistrate Ariful Islam under the Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Tito was taken to court on Tuesday after he was interrogated by police for eight days in two phases. He was remanded on Saturday for the second time.
Meanwhile, members of a seven-strong lawyer panel formed to defend him were present in the court premises since the morning. But they said they could not represent Tito as police did not inform about his arrival and allow meeting him.
The mystery shrouded drama had started around 11am Tuesday when police secretly brought Tito to the court in a white microbus, according to court sources. His lawyers and mediapersons arrived at the court premises around 30 minutes after, unaware that Tito was already inside the building.
Sources also told the Dhaka Tribune that Tito, who was arrested in Nilphamari on November 14, was kept in a room on the third floor before he was presented before the judge.
Around 4:30pm, Tito was put on a prison van suddenly and in a hurry, and taken to jail with a microbus carrying policemen following the vehicle.
Until that time, no police officials spoke to reporters outside the court or over phone about his whereabouts.
Advocate Naresh Chandra Sarkar, one of the members of the lawyer panel for Tito, told reporters that they were unable to provide Tito with any legal counsel in court since they could not get to meet him and have him sign the necessary documents authorising them.
He said: “We thought everything will happen in open court. But police did everything in secret.”
Following a storm of criticism on social media and from Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist and Christian Unity Council, the panel comprising senior lawyers such as Indrajit Sarkar and Komol Majumder was formed on Monday.
Representatives of Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee, Rangpur District Puja Udjapan Committee, Sommilito Sangskritik Jote and Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust had visited advocate Indrajit some days ago and requested him to form the panel to defend Tito in court.
Tito’s mother and brother have claimed that he is illiterate. According to his relatives, Tito never had a Facebook account named “Md Tito” from which the controversial status was posted on November 10.
That day, more than 30 homes belonging to Hindu families at Thakurpara village in Rangpur Sadar were ransacked and looted before being set on fire by a mob over the rumoured Facebook post. A man was also killed in police firing when the law enforcers intervened.