RAB referred to some hyperlinks of the Facebook posts to substantiate its claim
Law enforcers have arrested four people, including a writer and a cartoonist, after the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) filed a case against 11 persons under the controversial Digital Security Act (DSA), claiming that their activities on social media had led to confusion, instability and chaos among the people.
The law enforcers picked up cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore and former crocodile farm owner and writer Mushtaq Ahmed from Kakrail and Lalmatia areas of Dhaka, respectively, on Tuesday in connection with the case.
They picked up Rashtrochinta organizer Didar Bhuiyan, another accused, from his Badda office in the capital on Tuesday night and handed him over to police the following evening. Another accused, Minhaz Mannan Emon, was also handed over to police in the evening after he was arrested in Banani in the capital.
According to the case statement, filed with Ramna Police Station, the cyber team of RAB-3 had ‘secret information’ about some people and Facebook IDs which had been spreading false and fabricated information about the Covid-19 pandemic, and against the government.
It said RAB started screening some accounts and discovered a page — I am Bangladeshi — run by Facebook IDs—Saer Zulkarnain, Ami Kishore (in Bangla), Ashiq Imran, Philipp Schumacher, Swapan Jahid and Mustaque Ahmed.
The Facebook page posted false information and rumours against Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the War of Liberation, and on the Covid-19 pandemic, knowing full well that such information and rumours were false and intended to create confusion.
In the statement, RAB referred to some hyperlinks of the Facebook posts to substantiate its claim.
Among those accused in the case are Minhaz Mannan Emon, expatriate journalists Tasneem Khalil and Shahed Alam, Saer Zulkarnain, Ashiq Imran, Philipp Schumacher, Swapan Jahid, Mustaque Ahmed and blogger Asif Mohiuddin.
Lt Col Sarwar Bin Kashem, Director of the legal and media wing of RAB, earlier told Dhaka Tribune that their operation to arrest others who were in the country was going on. “We will inform the press later,” he said.
After their arrest, Kishore and Mushtaq were produced before a court in Dhaka, which sent them to jail upon a rejection of their pleas for bail. The two other arrestees will be taken to court on Thursday.
Cartoonist Kishore had been posting various critical cartoon-posters on the role of the government amid the ongoing coronavirus situation in the country on his “Ami Kishore” Facebook page. Mushtaq was writing on critical issues on Facebook through multiple IDs, including the page “Michael Kumir Tagore,” police have said.
The arrests and press conference
Didar Bhuiya was handed over to police 24 hours after he was reportedly picked up by RAB.
Didar Bhuiyan’s wife Dilshan Ara arranged a press conference on Wednesday noon, saying that some men in plain clothes had picked up her husband on Tuesday evening.
She asserted that her husband was not involved in any crimes which could warrant his arrest. She said the family got worried as state forces, for many hours, declined to acknowledge the fact that they had picked up Didar, keeping the family in the dark about his whereabouts.
Earlier, Didar's younger brother Zahirul Bhuiyan Rony told Dhaka Tribune that the men in plain clothes also took CCTV footage of Didar’s office building at the time his brother was picked up from his E-commerce business establishment in Badda.
Later his wife filed a general diary (GD) with Badda police station.
Badda police station Officer-In-Charge (OC) Parvez Islam told Dhaka Tribune at the time that the police were trying to find Didar’s whereabouts.
Eventually on Wednesday evening, SM Shamim, Dhaka Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner (Ramna Zone), finally confirmed that a team of RAB had handed over Didar to them.
Didar is involved with numerous charitable activities of Rashtrochinta, an advocacy platform for social reform. He also offers various short-term training to volunteers who were currently helping people in distress due to the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown, according to family members.
In another development, Lipi Akhter, wife of writer and Bangladesh's first commercial crocodile farm owner Mushtaq Ahmed, told this newspaper that her husband was picked up at around 2am on Monday.
On Wednesday in Sehri time, she got a call asking her to go to Ramna Police station. Upon reaching there in the morning, she learnt that her husband was in police custody, she added.
She also said that the law enforcers just read out to her the FIR where it was only mentioned that those named in it were allegedly involved in spreading rumors. She was not provided with a copy, where some other names like Didar and journalist Shahed Alam were written.
Mushtaq’s friends said he wrote under the pen name Michel Kumir Thakur and was critical on social media.
He wrote a book titled ‘Kumir Chasher Diary’, which was published in November 2018, and had been working on another book.