6 days ago, his co-accused Mushtaq died in jail; prison probe finds no negligence over the writer’s death
Cartoonist Ahmed Kishore finally secured bail yesterday after languishing in jail for 10 months in a case filed under the controversial Digital Security Act.
A High Court bench granted him bail, six days after writer Mushtaq Ahmed, another accused in the case, died while in custody. The two were prosecuted for their cartoons and writings.
The death of Mushtaq, who was denied bail six times and kept at the Kashimpur jail in Gazipur, last Thursday sparked protests across the country. People of all walks of life, mainly students and teachers, hit the streets demanding justice for Mushtaq and release of Kishore.
Kishore, who was also denied bail six times, is kept at the same jail. His family is expecting that he will walk out early next week.
Yesterday, the HC bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman granted bail to Kishore after hearing a petition filed by the cartoonist.
The court passed the bail order on two grounds, said Deputy Attorney General Sarwar Hossain Bappi. “One was Kishore’s failing health while the other was that two other accused in the case are out on bail.”
The previous hearing on the petition was held on Monday. That day, Kishore’s lawyer Jyotirmoy Barua informed the court that his client told him that he had been tortured in the custody of Rab-3.
Jyotirmoy said Kishore told him that he was not being able to hear almost anything through his right ear and that he had a wound on the left leg.
According to the first information report filed by Rab-3 on May 6 last year, Kishore was the first to be picked from his house in connection with the case.
“Upon interrogation, he disclosed the name of Mushtaq who was then apprehended from his Lalmatia house,” said the FIR, which mentioned 11 people, including the two, as accused.
Talking to this newspaper earlier, Kishore’s brother Ahsan Kabir talked about the cartoonist’s poor health. “I met my brother for the first time since his arrest when he was brought to court [on February 23].
“Kishore had gone through so much torture that he was limping … he told me that he was tortured, so much that his left ear drum was perforated and pus was coming out. His hearing was impaired.
“His eyesight got drastically reduced and he lost at least 10kg.”
Speaking to this correspondent after the bail order yesterday, Ahsan said, “How can I be anything but happy … our family will be together after so many months.”
DAG Bappi said the state was yet to decide whether they would appeal against the HC order.
The same HC bench had previously granted bail to photojournalist Shafiqul Islam Kajol, who had been denied bail 13 times.
In the 10 months prior to Mushtaq’s death and the bail order yesterday, sections of journalists, activists and common people campaigned to get the duo released from prison.
The first time their bail prayers got rejected was on May 17 last year, when a virtual court led by Judge Sadbir Yasir Ahsan Chowdhury scrapped the prayers because there was a pending remand application from the police, which needed to be settled.
The last rejection came on January 6 this year, at the courtroom of Metropolitan Magistrate KM Emrul Kayesh. He had also denied journalist Kajol bail thrice.
Later, the police officially framed charges against Kishore, Mushtaq and Didarul Islam, an activist of Rashtrochinta, on charges of posting anti-state social media contents, spreading “confusing” cartoons about different ruling party leaders, and rumours about the pandemic.
Dhaka Cyber Tribunal on February 10 ordered the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit to further investigate charges against all 11 accused in the case.
‘No negligence over Mushtaq’s death’
The jail authorities did not find any negligence over the death of writer Mushtaq in custody, Inspector General (IG) of Prisons Brig Gen Mominur Rahman Mamun told The Daily Star yesterday.
He said this citing a report submitted to him by a three-member probe committee, formed by the prisons authorities. The report was sent to the home ministry.
“If the home ministry finds anything else in its own probe, we will see their observations and take steps,” he said..
Meanwhile, the committee, formed by the ministry, submitted its report to the ministry yesterday afternoon.
“We have submitted the report around 5:00pm today,” Additional Secretary Tarun Kanti Sikder of the ministry, who led the five-member committee, told The Daily Star.
He, however, declined to reveal their findings, saying that the home minster would brief the media in this regard.