Bangladesh’s main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader Ilias Ali is still going missing. Many others also followed the same fate. The ghost or ghosts, who made them victims of enforced disappearance, are not kind. But thanks to the ghost who kidnapped Shafiqul Islam Kajol and returned him back. Kajol, editor of Dainik Pokkhokal, was last seen in front of his office at Hatirpool in Dhaka, capital city of Bangladesh at about 7:00pm on March 10, and had been going missing since then. He had been abducted by a quarter, assumed his colleagues and other journalists. And it happened a day after lawmaker of the ruling party Saifuzzaman Shikhor filed a case under Digital Security Act against him on March 9 with Sher-e-Bangla Nagor police station in Dhaka.

Enforced disappearances in Bangladesh have actually increased since the passage of the 2013 Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention) Act, reads an article of the Human Rights Watch.

The Digital Security Act is considered a repressive act to press freedom of speech in Bangladesh. Journalists are being tortured now and then taking benefit from the act.

Amnesty International and journalists across the country, abroad as well, condemned the act of the ghost who abducted the journalist. Widespread protests went on for several days. But the whereabouts of the journalist kept unknown, for which family members and his colleagues had become anxious about his fate. In the meantime, pandemic COVID-19 struck the country. Journalists seem to be silent due to social distancing rule. And, the ghost chooses the time. It returned the journalist at dead of night May 3, which was World Press Freedom Day. Journalism without fear and favour is the theme of the day for 2020.

World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO’s General Conference. Since then, 3 May, the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek is celebrated worldwide as World Press Freedom Day.

May 3 acts as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom. It is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics. It is an opportunity to:

  • celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom;
  • assess the state of press freedom throughout the world;
  • defend the media from attacks on their independence;
  • and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

Why did the ghost has chosen the day to drop the journalist is not known, and it will not be known for a long days to go.

But Mamun Khan, officer in-charge, Benapole port police station enriched me with the information saying me that Border Guard Bangladesh personnel handed over journalist Kajol to them after 3:30am on May 3 and a case was filed after 5am for illegally trespassing’ Bangladesh territory from India.  The BGB earlier picked him up from a land along Indian border. He was produced before the court of Judicial Magistrate Md Manjurual Islam in a case under section 11/C forillegally trespassing’ the frontier at around 12:30pm on Sunday, court sources said.

`We took him to the court after filing the case by the BGB,’ the OC added.

When the journalist was placed before the court he was seen handcuffed on the backside although accused of different cases are usually handcuffed on the front side.

In this regard, OC Mamun Khan said this practice has been running around three months back.

Bearded Kajol was seen wearing a full-sleeve T- shirt and was handcuffed on the back side just while he was rushing to the court. His son Monorom Palak was with him at that time.

Court sources said journalist Kajol was granted bail in the case filed by the BGB under section 11/C, which refers to illegal trespassing. But he was sent to Jashore Central Jail in the evening in a case filed by the Kotwali police under section 54. Mohammad Touhidul Islam, additional superintendent of police, Jashore confirmed the information to me sending a text message.

I made a phone call to Kotwali police station officer in-charge Moniruzzaman, to know why the case was filed against the journalist under section 54.  But he did not respond. I also phoned to the commanding officer of 49 Border Guard Battalion to know more about Kajol’s reaching at the place from where he was claimed to be rescued. He too did not reply to me. Perhaps the officials were busy, for which, they didn’t respond to me. I think the answer could help me to find the ghost’s ground to abduct the journalist. But in fact, reaching the answer is not so easy. As the trail of the ghost, who took away the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader Ilias Ali, is out of the reach of the countrymen, the answer of the logic of the ghost behind abducting Kajol, would also be unknown. Journalist leader Mohammad Abdullah thinks so. At the end of the story I’ve a request to the ghost- please be patient, don’t target any other human being for playing such games.

Saifur Rahman Saif is a Bangladeshi journalist. He works at New Age, a popular newspaper.

He contributed a story in Freelance Success Stories published simultaneously from the USA and Canada. He can be reached at saifnewage@gmail.com

 


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2 Comments

  1. Avatar Zeenat Khan says:

    It’s deja vu all over again. Same happened with the BNP politician a couple of years ago! Only yesterday, I read that he is still in Shillong awaiting trial. How can a trespassing charge become so sensitive that it cannot be resolved? What I don’t get is why some of these people end up on the other side of the border? There are a lot of speculations about it. It is of course, a great relief that the journalist is alive. I cannot imagine the pain and anguish their families go through. Bangladesh has become a police state, no question about it. You are a courageous young journalist who is trying to find answers. I am glad that you have chosen CC to put your ideas to share. It is a great global forum and our editor here is one of the most unbiased person who tries to accomodate people who got meanigful things to say or ask questions out loud.

    • Avatar Saifur Rahman Saif says:

      Thanks. Living in Bangladesh I cannot say everything. But I try to put the fact.