Nazmul, who works for private television station Ekushey Television and Bangla daily Bangladesh Pratidin, has been in jail since December 23 after being arrested for allegedly inciting labour unrest in Ashulia through his news reports.
Although Nazmul was arrested in a case under Section 57 of the Information and Communication Technology Act, police also showed him arrested in five more cases filed for ostensibly attacking garment factory, sexual harassment, and stealing apparel.
Nazmul’s family accused police of filing the case under Section 57 over false allegation and showing him arrested in the other cases, in which he was not even named, out of their personal resentment.
Nazmul has suffered brutal torture in police custody at least twice since his arrest, his family and lawyer claimed.
A tense situation surfaced in the Ashulia industrial belt after apparel workers fanned agitation on December 13 last year over several demands including raise of their wages and allowances. The situation turned worse after police baton charged, fired tear-gas shells and carried out mass arrest on the demonstrators to foil their movement.
Nazmul, as his family and colleagues claimed, had reported on some unscrupulous policemen taking bribe from some factory owners to ensure security at their factory units during the unrest.
When Ashulia police station’s Officer-in-Charge Mohasinul Qadir learned about the matter he asked Nazmul not to publish the news and hand over the evidence of the bribery including statements of some factory owners to the additional SP, they said.
However, Nazmul turned down the request, taking initiative to publish the news, they added.
“After Nazmul covered the news, the additional SP become angry and called him at Jamgora area, asking the latter not to do report on the labour unrest,” said Nazmul’s younger brother Kamruzzaman.
Ashraful then also threatened Nazmul with dire consequences if the news was published, alleged Kamruzzaman, claiming, some local reporters and camerapersons were present at the scene.
“My brother, out of his professionalism, had covered reports on the unrest, closure of factories, mass layoff of workers and aggressiveness of policemen as all other media outlets did,” he said.
Despite the fact, he Nazmul is now behind bars on false charges since his arrest was preplanned by Additional SP Ashraful, Kamruzzaman further said.
“As soon as Nazmul went to meet him [Ashraful] at Jamgora area, policemen cordoned off and booked him,” said Kamruzzaman.
When contacted, the additional SP right away refuted the allegation, saying: “I always do my job with full professionalism.”
On the other hand, the OC claimed to have little knowledge about the matter.
Only detectives can explain the arrest since they picked up Nazmul, he said.
Meanwhile, Nazmul’s lawyer Tuhin Hawlader said: “Industrial police was supposed to file the case for provoking apparel workers, but the Ashulia police itself did it, implying that there was something intentional behind the lawsuit.”
Nevertheless, Nazmul was sued on December 24, four days after the specific charge police brought against him. To date, the law enforcers did not clarify the reason for the delay in filing the case.
Nazmul secured bail in five cases including the one filed by police and is awaiting bail order in the sixth case filed for reportedly stealing pants from a factory.