The Drik Gallery founder and photographer was accused in an ICT case at Ramna Police Station of attempting to spread ‘fear and panic’ over the internet using ‘fantastical and provocative lies’.
Detective Branch Inspector Arman Ali produced the Drik Gallery founder before the Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate’s court on Monday.
The petition was heard by the court of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Asaduzzaman Noor.
Alam was brought to the court premises barefoot around 5:30pm under strict security conditions by police.
Ten to twelve lawyers, including Barrister Sara Hossain, Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua, Advocate Prakash Ranjan Biswas and Jibananda Chandra Jayanta were present in court to represent Alam.
Alam, who is also the founder of Pathshala South Asian Media Institute, is also involved in the human rights movement. He streamed videos on Facebook Live discussing the clashes in the Jigatala area amid student protests for road safety on Saturday and Sunday.
He also criticised the government during an interview on Al Jazeera. On Sunday night, his family told the media that he had been taken from his home in Dhanmondi.
Police did not make a statement as to why he had been detained until late afternoon, when Dhaka Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner (Media) Masudur Rahman told bdnews24.com that he was the sole suspect in a case filed against him at the Ramna Police Station.
The case accuses him under section 57 of the ICT Act of using ‘fantastical information’ to spread ‘lies’ among the population, spreading information with intent to provoke, attempting to ‘invalidate and question’ the government on the international stage, ‘deteriorating’ the law and order situation, conspiring to spread ‘fear and terror’ and ‘abusing’ an electronic platform to do so.
AMNESTY CALLS FOR FREEDOM
Human rights organisation Amnesty International has called for the unconditional release of Alam and an end to the ‘crackdown’ on student protesters.
“There is no justification whatsoever for detaining anyone for solely peacefully expressing their views. His arrest marks a dangerous escalation of a crackdown by the government that has seen the police and vigilantes unleash violence against student protestors,” said Omar Waraich, Amnesty’s deputy director for South Asia.
“The students have a right to peaceful assembly and physical security. These rights should be respected and protected, and there should be an immediate and effective investigation into the use of force by police, the violent actions of pro-government vigilantes who also attacked the students, and why the police did nothing to stop them.”