The veteran photographer was remanded for seven days on Monday
The High Court has ordered to shifting of Drik founder and veteran photographer Shahidul Alam to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) Hospital from the custody of Detective Branch (DB) of police.
The bench of Justice Syed Muhammad Dastagir Husain and Justice Md Iqbal Kabir issued the order on Tuesday after hearing a petition filed by Shahidul’s partner Rahnuma Ahmed earlier in the day.
It also asked the BSMMU authorities to form a medical board and submit a report on Shahidul’s health condition before it by 10:30am on Thursday, when the court will resume hearing in the case.
A Dhaka court on Monday had placed the 63-year-old photographer on a seven-day remand in a case filed under the ICT Act on charges of spreading fabricated information and rumours and false information against the government via social media.
After Tuesday’s hearing, eminent jurist Dr Kamal Hossain told reporters that they hoped Shahidul’s remand would also be halted following the court’s order to shift him to the hospital.
Kamal and Barrister Sara Hossain had represented the petitioner in court. They defence team also included Dr Shahdeen Malik, Jyotirmoy Barua and Tanim Hossain Shaon, among others.
Tanim told reporters that Shahidul was tortured in police custody before he was produced before the court for the remand hearing on Monday
“Besides, he is sick. The remand order has violated Shahidul Alam’s constitutional and human rights,” he said.
On Saturday and Sunday, the photographer had gone live on Facebook several times to discuss clashes in Dhaka’s Jigatola area between students demonstrating for safer roads and police and allegedly activists of ruling party affiliate organizations.
Shahidul, who is also the founder of the Pathshala South Asian Media Institute, also talked about these issues and criticized the government during an interview with Al Jazeera on Sunday.
He was then picked up from his Dhanmondi home around 11:30pm on Sunday by DB police officials, and taken to the DB office on the city’s Mintoo Road on Monday morning.
Md Masudur Rahman, deputy commissioner (DC) (media) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), had said that Shahidul was taken into their custody for “interrogation regarding his student-protest-related Facebook posts.”
The case under the ICT Act's Section 57(2) against Shahidul was filed at Ramna police station by DB (north division) Inspector Mehedi Hasan.
NHRC, ASK, Article 19, condemn Shahidul’s arrest
Bangladesh National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK), and Article 19, an international organization defending freedom of expression and information, on Tuesday expressed its deep concern at the reported incident of torture of renowned photographer and human rights activist, Shahidul Alam, during his time in custody.
In a press release, NHRC Chairman KaziReazul Haque said Shahidul’s partner, Rehnuma Ahmed, has informed the organization about how the famed photographer was tortured, physically and mentally, in custody.
The NHRC chairman urged law enforcement agencies to treat any person in custody with respect and dignity. NHRC has sent a written recommendation to the Ministry of Home Affairs in this regard as well.
ASK, in a press statement, mentioned article 35 (5) of the constitution protects citizens from torture or any cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment or treatment. The rights organization also urged state forces to ensure the order of the High Court is not violated in this regard.
Article 19, in a statement, condemns Shahidul’s arrest and urged his unconditional and immediate release.