Two police stations shrugging off responsibility
The family of missing journalist Shafiqul Islam Kajol, who has been missing for the last eight days, have failed to file a case yet as police are not accepting a filingof the case.
Kajol, including Manabzamin Editor Matiur Rahman Chowdhury and 30 others, accused in a case filed under the Digital Security Act for publishing and sharing a news article on social media regarding expelled Jubo Mohila League leader Shamima Noor Papia, have been missing since March 10 when the case was lodged against Kajol.
Immediately after Kajol went missing, a general diary (GD) was filed with Chawkbazar police station as Kajol lived in Bakshibazar, Dhaka, with his family.
Kajol's family is now trying to file an enforced disappearance case but Chawkbazar police station is referring him to New Market police station as he was last seen in front of his office in Hatirpool's Meher Tower.
However New Market police station is also shrugging off their responsibility by saying the case is under Chawkbazar police station's jurisdiction.
Meanwhile, Article 19, a UK based human rights organization, has expressed concern regarding Kajol's disappearance.
Faruq Faisel, Bangladesh and South Asia regional director of Article 19, said: "Misuse of the law in silencing dissent is in contradiction to the constitutional commitment to the rule of law and disregard for the freedom of the press."
"Increased intimidation and threats to undermine freedom of expression is on the rise in Bangladesh. Rights violations and harassments have increasingly taken the form of repressive use of legislation," he added.
As per Article 19 records, in February, 2020, at least 50 incidents of violations of freedom [of the press] took place, of which serious bodily injury were 4, assault 9, abduction 1, destruction of equipment 5, defamation and vexatious cases 2, criminalization of online expression 9, and gender based violation 1.
Kajol's son Monorom Polok told Dhaka Tribune that he has been going to Chawkbazar police station for the last three or four days, and he last went to New Market police station on Monday. But both police stations refused to take the case.
Polok said: "Chawkbazar police station told us to file the case with New Market police station as they have tracked his phone call and traced him in that area last. On the other hand, New Market police station is telling us to lodge it with Chawkbazar as he left home at 3pm and we didn't see him again."
Polok claimed that he has seen his father in the CCTV footage collected from Kajol's office area.
"[The footage shows] my father came to the office and then left. He waited for someone on his motorcycle in front of his office for about 20 minutes and was using his phone. He left the place at around 6:50pm."
Polok suspects his father might be a victim of enforced disappearance.
"After searching for him [for so long], I guess, he is a victim of enforced disapearance. My father was also afraid about the issue [of a case filed against him]. [Besides] he was waiting for somebody. I suspect someone asked him to go somewhere."
SM Kaiyum, officer-in-charge (OC) of New Market police station, said they could not trace him after he left home. As he left on his motorcycle, they could not do anything.
The whole incident happened under Chawkbazar police station, OC Kaiyum said.
Moudud Hawladar, officer-in-charge of Chawkbazar police station, said: "We have collected video footage. He worked at his office from 4pm to 7pm. If anything happened after that, it will go to New Market police station."
"We checked his call list. His phone was found switched off after he left his office," he added.
Kajol is the editor of the fortnightly Pakkhokal and he worked for the dailies Samakal and Bonik Barta as a photo-journalist.