Police have allegedly planted evidence to falsely charge a photojournalist of the Daily Observer with possession of contraband yaba pills.
The incident took place on the night of June 27 at Shantinagar.
Ashik Muhammad, the son of retired senior photojournalist Farhad Hossain, was returning home with friends from a Eid-related programme when a police patrol stopped him around 12:30am.
The policemen swore at Ashik as soon as he introduced himself as a journalist, triggering an altercation between the two parties.
Ashik left the scene a while later but was stopped by another police team standing just yards away. They seized Ashik's two mobile phones and his motorcycle.
Ashik's mother Asiya Begum claimed that police had demanded Tk1 lakh from her son for his release. “They implicated him in a false case of yaba possession when he refused to pay.”
But police claimed to have found 10 yaba tablets on Ashik when they frisked him in front of Bismillah Hotel. The second police team had detained two other men with yaba pills.
Sub-Inspector Mohammad Mizanur Rahman, investigating the case, produced them before a Dhaka court the next day and sought permission to interrogate them in custody for five days.
The court turned down the police request and sent the three accused to jail. Ashik is currently in Dhaka Central Jail.
When Ashik contacted his family after Fajr prayer on June 28, his mother immediately sent his childhood friend Alamin to Paltan police station around 6am.
Ashik told him that police had badly beaten him up and implicated him in a false drug case.
However, Assistant Sub-Inspector Ashraf Ali, the plaintiff of the case, insisted that 10 yaba tablets were found from the right pocket of Ashik’s pant.
Ashraf also denied demanding money from the journalist.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s Motijheel Zone Deputy Commissioner Anwar Hossain claimed that Ashik had “admitted to being involved in yaba trade” during initial interrogation.
“I think his relatives are lying,” he said.
The Daily Observer’s Chief Reporter Pulak Ghatak trashed the police’s claims.
“Of course Ashik is innocent,” he said. “The incident and the case statement are inconsistent.”
He pointed out that the case statement did not mention that police seized Ashik's motorcycle and mobile phones.
“Police did not even contact us when Ashik introduced himself as journalist of the Daily Observer,” Ghatak, also the joint secretary general of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists, added.
He said they did a separate investigation and found Ashik to be innocent.
“He (Ashik) does not even smoke, let alone take or deal in drugs,” Ghatak threatened to hit the streets if charges against Ashik were not dropped.