Tetultola row: Detention of Syeda Ratna, son condemned

The duo were detained as a ploy to instill fear into local residents, says lawyer Syeda Rizwana Hasan

Civil society representatives have demanded an inquiry into the detention of Udichi member Syeda Ratna and her underaged son for protesting the move to set up a police station on Tetultola playground in Kalabagan.

Members of different rights groups and environmental organizations, and cultural activists demonstrated on the field on Monday to stop the construction work.

In the morning, the protesters held a press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) to condemn the detention and demanded the relocation of the police station.

They also formed a human chain on the field in the afternoon, in presence of the police members who had already constructed a barbed-wire fence.

Syeda Rizwana Hasan, chief executive of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), said that the detention of Ratna had been pre-planned and was a ploy to instill fear into locals.

Architect Iqbal Habib said: “Even though Syeda Ratna and her son have been released in the face of protests, they had to sign a bond that they will no longer protest. This is illegal.”

Also Read - Tetultola playground: Protest coordinator, minor son released after interrogation

The residents of Ward No 17 have been using the open space for nearly 50 years as an Eidgah, for bathing corpses and as a hub for social and cultural festivals. It is the only playground for children in the area.

On Sunday morning, Syeda Ratna and her son Isha Abdullah Piyangsu, an HSC examinee, were detained for “spreading hate speech on social media” as she protested the construction on a Facebook live.

They were released nearly after 13 hours, in the early hours of Monday.

Also Read - Right activists issue ultimatum to stop construction of police station

Regarding the detention, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal on Monday said that the police had tried to stop her several times when she was live-streaming her protest on Facebook from the site.

“As she did not listen to them, officers took her to the station for interrogation,” he added.

Also Read - Home minister: Decision on playground after discussion with stakeholders

The citizens' protest was organized by Human Rights Support Society, Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD), Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (Bapa), Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), Ain o Salish Kendra, Green, Amra Kori, Nagorik Uddyog, Naripakkha, Bangladesh Udichi Shilpigoshti, TIB and others.

Meanwhile, 19 noted citizens of the country, mostly cultural activists and academicians, have expressed solidarity with the movement and asked the government to allocate the ground for the children.

The citizens include Abdul Gaffar Chowdhury, Syed Hasan Imam, Mafidul Huq, Ramendu Majumder and Selina Hossain.

In a statement issued on Monday, they also condemned the detention of Syeda Ratna and her son.