Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) examinees Kazi Mahmudur Rahman Raihan Rahi, 18, and Ullash Das, 18, were hauled up from the port city’s Chawkbazar under the much-debated Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act.
Police charged them with hurting religious sentiment and sent the duo to prison the following day.
A group of online activists, who advocate secularism, have accused the police of always being blind to Shafiur Rahman Farabi’s numerous threats to kill people.
The group claims the teens had been detained at the instigation of Farabi and Islami Chhatra Shibir, the student front of Jamaat-e-Islami.
Rahi’s family says Shibir activists had handed the Chittagong College student over to police as he had refused to join the organisation.
Chittagong is a stronghold of the Jamaat affiliate.
According to online activists, Farabi had written a blog post criticising another post by Dr Abhijit Roy, founder of the blog ‘Muktomona’.
Many had termed Abhijit ‘atheist’ in their comments on Farabi’s post.
Commenting on his post, the writer himself wrote, “Abhijit Roy lives in America and so, it is not possible to kill him right now. He will be murdered when he comes back.”
Rahi commented on the post on Feb 10 and hotly argued with Farabi over Abhijit Roy’s blog, ‘atheism’, and religion.
The teenager claimed Farabi had removed his comment. He posted his last comment on the post on Feb 13.
Several of Rahi and Ullash’s classmates claimed a group of Shibir activists had blocked the way of the teenagers in front of the Taak Shah Mia Masjid.
They said the Shibir activists had instigated the locals against the duo and had severely beaten them up.
According to case details, a band of up to 60 youths were beating up two teenagers in front of the Taak Shah Mia Mosque on the eastern side of the Parade Grounds on Sunday afternoon.
Police claimed they had immediately “rescued the youths from the grasp of angry people”.
The teens were implicated in a case under provision 57 (1) of the ICT Act on the same day.
Many rights activists had been demanding repeal of this particular provision of the Act which deals with circulating false, obscene, and defamatory elements on the electronic forum.
Rahi’s father Mahfuzur Rahman claimed his son had refused to join Shibir.
“They (Shibir) threatened him that they won’t allow him to sit for the exam [for this reason]. He had gone to college to take his admit card on the day.”
Meanwhile, a relative of Ullash claimed the teen had been implicated as he was a friend of Rahi.
Police could not clearly state the reason of their detention.
Chittagong Metropolitan Police (CMP) Additional Deputy Commissioner Babul Akter said he did not know “much” about the matter.
“They had been detained for religious incitement,” he told bdnews24.com adding, “the police station officials know better”.
Chawkbazar police station OC Atik Ahmed Chowdhury denied that Rahi and Ullash had been beaten as mentioned in the case details.
“It was a minor altercation,” he said.
“They had been hurting religious sentiment by writing on Facebook. Several of their friends had forbidden them to do so.
“On that day, they had a tiff with their friends as they continued their writings,” claimed the police officer.
Asked about their writings, the OC said: “They had written really bad things that cannot be made public.”
When his attention was drawn to Farabi’s incitements, he said, “I’ve heard his name but don’t know him. I can’t say anything on the matter.”
Farabi admits it
Farabi admitted that he had indeed instigated people against Rahi and Ullash by calling them atheists in a Facebook status posted on the night of March 31.
“The police have arrested Kazi Raihan Rahi today based on his comment on my status,” he said.
Farabi said in the status: “It’s now time to openly kill those atheists who will make obscene comments against Allah and His Messenger, giving them slow, painful death as done to Thaba Baba (blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider).”
“In Bangladesh, either we Muslims will survive or the atheists will,” he added.
Earlier, he urged the military to stage a coup and kill Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Dec 16, the Victory Day.
He had said in the status: “I am telling the army that how long you will keep the arms unused. Shouldn’t you save the countrymen from the hand of Dracula-like Sheikh Hasina by attacking Gana Bhaban?”
He posted a similar status on Dec 23.
Ganajagaran Mancha activist and blogger Rajib was killed on Feb 15 last year in the early days of the movement, which was launched to demand highest punishment for all war criminals.
Farabi later wrote on his Facebook status: “The cleric who will conduct the funeral prayer for Thaba Baba will be killed.”
Police arrested Farabi at the Chittagong University area on Feb 24 last year.
A Dhaka court framed charges against him in June that year under the ICT Act for threatening the cleric.
He, however, secured bail from the High Court and was freed on Aug 21. Since then he has been making instigating comments on social media.