Five-strong panel given four days to submit its findings
The Home Ministry has formed a five-member committee to investigate the circumstances of the death of writer Mushtaq Ahmed, arrested in a Digital Security Act case, at the Kashimpur High Security Jail in Gazipur.
The development came just a day after Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said an investigation committee would be formed over the writer’s death, if needed.
Mushtaq’s death has caused widespread protests with many platforms, individuals and diplomats voicing their concerns.
With Security Services Division Additional Secretary Tatun Kanti Shikder as its convener, the committee was formed on Saturday, reports Bangla Tribune.
It was given four working days to submit its findings.
A letter issued in this regard says Mushtaq, 53, was hospitalized on Thursday evening after he became unconscious due to pain.
“The on-duty doctor declared him dead around 8:30pm upon several tests in the hospital,” the letter reads.
The probe body was asked to verify if the prison authorities had been negligent and if so, identify those responsible.
They were also told to confirm if the jail authorities had been informed of Mushtaq’s health complications after he was taken there and if so, what measures were taken to treat him.
It was also suggested in the letter that the officials responsible be identified if Mushtaq had been denied medical care.
The other members of the committee are Gazipur’s Additional District Magistrate Abul Kalam, Mymensingh division DIG (prisons) Jahangir Kabir, Gazipur District Jail Assistant Surgeon Kamrun Nahar and Security Services Division Deputy Secretary Arif Ahmed.
Meanwhile, the Gazipur district administration on Friday formed a panel to probe the death. The panel has already got down to its assignment and is expected to submit a report in two days.
The 53-year-old writer, whose book "Kumir Chaasher Diary" was published under the pen name Michael Kumir Thakur, was arrested by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) from his Lalmatia home on May 2, allegedly over his Facebook posts that were critical of the government's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
On August 20, he was shifted to the Kashimpur prison.
Calls for Mushtaq's release were widespread and sustained throughout his time in prison. Soon after his arrest, more than 300 dignitaries in Bangladesh issued a joint statement demanding his release, as well as the release of cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore.
Amnesty International reiterated the demand in a statement as recently as January, saying the duo (Kishore and Mushtaq) had been arrested "solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression."
Mushtaq’s applications for bail were turned down on at least four occasions.
After Mushtaq Ahmed's autopsy, doctors said they had not found any apparent signs of injuries on the body.