The actor has been called many things: 'seductress,' 'party animal,' 'honey trap' and more. But one thing is certain -- she was not a loan defaulter, money launderer, ponzi schemer or even a real flight risk
On August 4, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) raided Dhallywood actor Pori Moni’s Banani home and confiscated bottles of liquor, yaba pills and LSD blotting papers.
Among many drug-related accusations, she has been deemed guilty of having a minibar at her home and indulging in frequent parties.
She was later shown arrested along with her aide Ashraful Islam Dipu in a case filed under the Narcotics Control Act.
The actor stayed behind the bars for 26 days, and the 'justice for Pori Moni' hashtag seemed to have lost its potency somewhere along the way, or its visibility for that matter.
One thing is certain. The actor has been called many things: 'seductress,' 'party animal,' 'blackmailer,' honey trap and more. But she was not a loan defaulter, money launderer, ponzi schemer or even a real flight risk.
As the actor finally secures her bail on August 31, concerns loom large as to whether she still stands a chance at a due and unobstructed legal process.
Pori Moni's 26-day-imprisonment merits the question as to whether her bail plea had been heard fairly. Her lawyers have applied for bail four times, but to no avail.
When her legal counsels again filed a bail petition last week, Judge KM Emrul Kayesh fixed September 13 for the bail hearing.
Questioning the need for a space of 21 days until the bail hearing, experts opined that the delay until the hearing was a harassment technique.
National Committee against Violence against Women and Girls and Social Anomy Chairman Barrister Amir-ul Islam said: “The girl [Pori Moni] was sent to the jail before the verdict, even though she has the right to get bail. We witnessed the same scenario in the case against journalist Rozina Islam.”
Dr Fauzia Moslem, president of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, said: “Pori Moni has only been accused of a crime. The charges are yet to be proven, but most people are already acting as if she is the culprit. I am doubtful that she will get the right verdict."
Justice Md Nizamul Huq said: “If Pori Moni has been accused in a drugs case, the concern should be that and only that. Why are law enforcement officials focusing on her personal life?”
Barrister Tania Amir said the entire incident illustrates power imbalance.
"Pori Moni had accused a businessman of attempting to rape and murder her, and he was arrested but soon got out on bail. Soon after his bail, the victim [Pori Moni] turned into the culprit on August 5. If he is granted bail, why not Pori Moni?” she questioned.
Rights activist Advocate Sultana Kamal said law enforcement agencies were not allowing Pori Moni to speak with her lawyers, which is a violation of her constitutional rights.
“The elite force [RAB] talks about the Official Secrets Act, but why do they forget that the constitution also protects an individual’s privacy?” she inquired.
Supporters and Deserters
Bangladesh Film Directors Association released a statement on August 30, calling for the release of Pori Moni.
“We want to say this loud and clear: Pori Moni is one of our favourite artists; we all value her inclusion in our film community. Whether she is guilty or not is a matter best left to the courts. But she should definitely be released on bail. Like every other citizen in the country, Pori Moni is entitled to her due legal rights,” read the statement.
The statement came on the 25th day of Pori Moni's arrest. Why the association did not voice its support earlier for a prominent member of the film fraternity is a question continuing to perplex the netizens.
On the other hand, Bangladesh Film Artistes‘ Association (BFAA) suspended the actor’s membership only two days after her arrest, and called her inclusion in the body “embarrassing.”
"Pori Moni has damaged the image of the film artists and it is embarrassing for us. We can’t allow that,” said the President of BFAA, Misha Sawdagar.
The body’s decision has been widely criticized by social media users, who have accused the members of abandoning a colleague in need.
In response, the executive committee members insisted that the decision was taken unanimously and only after further consultations with senior actors such as Sohel Rana, Alamgir, Ilias Kanchan and others.
However, all the senior actors denied advocating for Pori Moni's membership suspension.
"When they asked me, I unequivocally told them not to take such measures against a fellow artist. In my opinion, you cannot punish someone like that without knowing exactly what wrong the person has committed. But they decided to go ahead with the suspension even before she has been convicted of anything. My advice received little attention,” said the road safety activist and National Film Award-winning actor Ilias Kanchan.
There has been sporadic support lent to Pori Moni from the film industry, civil society and citizens group, most prominently from Azmeri Haque Badhon, Shakib Khan, Rashid Polash, Robin Ahsan, Abdul Gaffar Chowdhury, Sultana Kamal, and others.
However, most of the renowned Dhallywood faces chose to remain tight-lipped.