Prison death protesters face charges of attempted murder after clashes with police

  • Senior Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2021-02-27 18:12:50 BdST

The police have charged seven people with attempted murder in clashes with law enforcers during protests over the prison death of writer Mushtaq Ahmed.

The accused in a case registered with Shahbagh Police Station on Friday midnight were sent to court on Saturday as the police sought permission for questioning in their custody, said Inspector Mahbub Alam.

Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Morshed Al Mamun Bhuiyan denied the remand petition and allowed the police to grill the accused at the jail gates within three days.

The judge also set Mar 3 to hear bail petitions filed by the defence lawyers.

The accused are Tamzid Haider, Nojib Amin Chowdhury Joy, ASM Tanzimur Rahman, Akib Ahmed, Arafat Saad, Nazifa Zannat and Joyoti Chakrabarty. Arafat is involved with Samajtantrik Chhatra Front, while the others with Bangladesh Students’ Union.

Sub-Inspector Mintu Mia, the plaintiff, also accused 100 to 150 unidentified people in the case, said Mamunur Rashid, chief of Shabagh Police Station.

Mushtaq died in Kashimpur High-Security Prison on Feb 25, nearly 10 months after his arrest in a case under the Digital Security Act on charges of criticising the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Activists of several organisations demonstrated on the Dhaka University campus and Shahbagh throughout Friday demanding justice for Mushtaq and cancellation of the act. The writer was denied bail six times.  

Members of the leftist student groups marched on the campus with torches in the evening. When their procession neared the National Museum, the police stopped them.

At one stage, clashes erupted.

The police personnel also fired teargas shells after the protesters started throwing brickbats. They then moved back to the campus and clashed with the law enforcers.

The protesters said 30 of them were injured after the police charged baton by switching the street lights off. The law enforcers said 15 policemen were injured when the protesters threw brickbats.

Photos published by newspapers showed the police clubbing the protesters.

The law enforcers said they acted in self-defence after coming under attack from the marching protesters.

GOVERNMENT FORMS COMMITTEE

The home ministry has formed a committee of five to investigate Mushtaq’s death. 

Tarun Kanti Sikder, additional secretary of security services at the home ministry, is heading the committee, while Deputy Secretary Arif Ahmed is working as its member secretary.

The members are Abul Kalam, Gazipur additional district magistrate, Jahangir Kabir, deputy inspector general of prisons, and Dr Quamrun Nahar, assistant surgeon of Gazipur district prisons.

They have four working days to submit a report, Moniruzzaman, deputy secretary of security services, said in a notice.

The committee will investigate whether negligence led to Mushtaq’s death and identify the people responsible for any negligence

It will also investigate whether the prison authorities were aware of any health issue of the writer, whether they took steps if they knew about his health problems, and identify the people who did not take steps even after becoming aware of his health issues.