Poet and columnist Farhad Mazhar has claimed that a confession he gave to a Dhaka court in October about his alleged abduction was not his own words, giving the first-ever public account of his sensational disappearance in July.
“They gave me something in writing and I submitted it to the court,” Farhad told reporters at his home last evening.
A court on Thursday ordered legal action against Farhad and his wife human rights activist Farida Akhter for committing perjury and lodging a false case of abduction.
Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate's Court rejected Farida's plea for time to file a no-confidence motion and accepted a police probe report.
“I was brought to Adabor police station under terrible mental and physical distress. Despite their promise, they did not let me go to my family,” Farhad said at the press conference.
Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) found Farhad on an inter-district bus en route to Dhaka from Khulna, almost 18 hours after he went missing from near his home in Dhaka's Shyamoli on the morning of July 3, leading to a nationwide search and media frenzy. His family claimed he had been kidnapped.
“Then they took me to the Detective Branch office. There I was questioned despite the fact that I was terribly ill,” Farhad told reporters.
“Then they gave me a written statement and sent me to the magistrate,” he added.
“I was so disorientated, I could barely tell the court that my physical and mental condition is vulnerable. I am giving you what the DB office made me write, I said.
“Then with his permission I collapsed on a couch.”
“On July 3 I realised that I needed a medicine for my eye when I was trying to write on my computer,” Farhad said, describing the events of the day of his alleged abduction.
“I went to a pharmacy, and then three men surrounded me on the street and forced me into a white microbus and blindfolded me.
“My phone was in my hands. I was able to call my wife Farida Akhter. After that, I did what I needed to to save my life; I called her again and asked for ransom,” he said.
“They dropped me in a place I could not recognise. I understood that they were watching me. I did as they had told me and got onto a Hanif Paribahan bus and they forced me to sit at the end of the bus.
“I collapsed from fear and exhaustion. Suddenly I woke up to a commotion. RAB and some plainclothes men were arguing over me. Those men pointed a gun at the RAB personnel.
“RAB took me and put me in their car. They spoke to my wife and assured me. But those men were even trying to take me out of the car,” he said.
Farhad dodged questions about whether he could identify his abductors or whether they were more powerful than RAB.
Police have told the Dhaka court Farhad's confession does not match evidence and that his wife Farida had made false allegations and did not withdraw them later.
Asked for his comment, Dhaka Metropolitan DB Joint Commissioner Abdul Baten maintained that the confession was genuine.
“He gave a confession to a magistrate of his own volition. There were no police present. If police had written it down for him, why did he not speak out at the confession,” he told the Bangla Tribune.