Five named again in digital security case against Kishore, Didarul

The police have charged five more people in court after dropping their name initially in a case that also accuses cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore and Rashtrochinta activist Didarul Islam Bhuiyan.    

The five named in the further investigation report are Minhaz Mannan, a former DSE director, Saer Zulkarnain alias Samiul Islam Khan alias Sami, a Bangladeshi expatriate in Hungary, Tasneem Khalil, editor of Sweden-based Netra News, blogger Ashik

Mohammad Imran, and expatriate Md Wahidunnabi alias Shapan Wahed.

Mohsin Sarder, a sub-inspector who was the first investigation officer of the case under the Digital Security Act, pressed charges against Kishore, Didarul and writer Mushtaq Ahmed on Jan 13.

Mushtaq died in jail on Feb 25.

After being freed on bail in early March, Kishore alleged he was tortured at an unknown place before being shown arrested in the case last year. He has applied to start a case over the alleged torture.    

Mohsin recommended dropping charges against Mannan, Sami, Tasneem, Ashik, Wahed, blogger Asif Mohiuddin, US-based journalist Shahed Alam and one Philip Schuhmacher. 

Afsar Ahmed, an official at the police’s Counterterrorism and Transnational Crime Unit who is the new investigation officer of the case, submitted the new report at Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrates Court on May 10, said Nizam Uddin, a sub-inspector at the court police.    

Shahed Alam, a journalist staying in the US, and Germany-based blogger Asif Mohiuddin had also been accused in the case, but the investigation officer said in the report that he did not find specific evidence against them.

Investigator Afsar sought to drop the name of another suspect with a Facebook ID ‘Philip Schuhmacher’ from the case because he could not trace him.

After arresting Kishore and Mushtaq on May 5 last year, the Rapid Action Battalion started the case against 11 people. Minhaz and Didarul were also arrested the following day.

Mushtaq Ahmed

The accused have long been propagating rumours about Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Liberation War, coronavirus epidemic, and spreading disinformation about the government to belittle it by using a Facebook page named “I am Bangladeshi” and their personal accounts, according to the charges brought in the case.

The RAB also claimed to have evidence that Mushtaq and Kishore had “conspired” with the Bangladeshi expatriates named in the case on WhatsApp and Messenger apps. Mushtaq had similar conversations with his Facebook friends Didarul and Minhaz, according to the case.

Minhaz, who runs brokerage house BLI Securities, and Didarul got bail four months after their arrest.

Ramna police submitted the chargesheet on Feb 4 naming Mushtaq, Kishore and Didarul. The investigator recommended dropping the names of the eight other accused at that time.

Meanwhile, Sami became the subject of intense discussions after he appeared in Al Jazeera’s controversial documentary “All The Prime Minister’s Men” in February.

Son of retired army officer Abdul Baten Khan, Sami lives in Hungary and was the main source of the documentary. Tasneem of Netra News also talked in the documentary.

As the recommendation to drop charges against them raised eyebrows, the state appealed for further investigation. Judge Ash-Shams Joglul Hossain ordered the further inquiry on Feb 10.