Kishore recounted his traumatic experience before the court on Wednesday
Cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore on Wednesday filed a complaint with a Dhaka court under the Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention) Act against unidentified perpetrators.
Appearing before the court, Kishore recounted his experiences of torture as well as an incident where 17-18 men in plain clothes ransacked his home in the evening on May 2, 2020, three days before he was shown as arrested under the Digital Security Act.
The Metropolitan Sessions Judge's Court of Judge KM Emrul Kayesh recorded Kishore's statement, which lasted for about half an hour.
The judge said an order would be issued within a day or two.
Cartoonist Kabir Kishore was released from Kashimpur Central Jail on Thursday, a day after the High Court granted him six-months bail in a case filed under the Digital Security Act (DSA).
In his statement, Kishore said a group of men seized his cell phone and computer before taking him to an unknown location the day of the ransacking. The perpetrators tortured him in various ways and kept him imprisoned until handing him over to RAB custody on May 5 last year.
An account of the torture
“I woke up when I heard the calling bell at my Kakrail residence around 5:30pm on that day [May 2]. As soon as I opened the door, a stranger asked me why I was not opening the door and asked me to dress well. Then a group of people entered my house and started searching. When I asked for identification, they did not provide any. I heard one of them address another as Jasim,” Kishore said in the complaint.
He added that they did not show him an arrest warrant and seized his cell phone, computer and other portable devices.
“I was taken downstairs in handcuffs, and six or seven cars were waiting outside. Many people had gathered in front of my house by the time I was put in one of the cars. I started screaming loudly, but I think my screams were not heard as the strangers played loud music inside the car,” he further said.
Kishore was taken to an old, damp room at a house in an unidentified location.
“They showed me some of my cartoons on coronavirus and asked me why I had drawn them. They also asked about the characters in the cartoon. At one point, I was slapped hard in the ear and it started bleeding. Then they hit me in the knee with a pipe and I became unconscious from the pain," the cartoonist said.
He said that he continued to face such torture for a couple of days, before finding himself at the RAB office.
At the office, he met writer Mushtaq Ahmed, who died in jail on February 25 this year, Kishore claimed.
“Mushtaq Ahmed told me there that he was subjected to electric shocks. We were handed over to Ramna police station on May 6 last year. I am currently physically ill. Pus (discharge fluid) is still coming out of my ears. I can’t walk, I often fall down and symptoms of various diseases are showing on my body,” Kishore added in his complaint.
Kishore has appealed to the authorities concerned to issue an order to take legal action against the unidentified accused under sections 4, 5, 6 and 7 of the Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention) Act 2013.
“The court started the hearing session around 1:25pm. At first, the related sections of the Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention) Act were discussed and Kishore then described the torture he faced ,” said Kishore’s lawyer Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua.
Cartoonist Kishore and writer Mushtaq's arrest
RAB personnel arrested cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore and writer Mushtaq Ahmed, also a businessman, from their respective homes in Kakrail and Lalmatia areas on May 5, 2020 on charges of spreading misinformation about the government on social media, reports UNB.
A case was filed under the DSA against them and nine others with Ramna police station, on charges of posting anti-government remarks on Facebook.
Later, a court sent Kishore and Mushtaq to jail under the case. Calls for their release were widespread and sustained throughout their time in prison.
Soon after Mushtaq's arrest, more than 300 dignitaries in Bangladesh issued a joint statement demanding his release, alongside that of cartoonist Ahmed Kishore.
Amnesty International reiterated the demand in a statement in January, saying Kishore and Mushtaq had been arrested "solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression."
Writer Mushtaq Ahmed, 53, died on February 25 in Kashimpur Jail, Gazipur, leading to public outcry on social media platforms and protests by student bodies in Dhaka.