Noted filmmakers and Stamford University students and teachers yesterday called for action to release Shahedul Islam Sifat and Shipra Debnath from jail.
The two students of film and media studies at Stamford, who were travelling with Major (retired) Sinha Md Rashed Khan, got arrested after the latter was shot dead allegedly by police in Teknaf on July 31.
At a rally in the capital's Shahbagh yesterday, National Film Award winning-director Giasuddin Selim said, "We know the police of our country. If they want, they can make anyone fall into a trap. Please stop this culture."
He added that he knows the two students and they do not deserve to be in jail.
"To the leaders who run our country, stop extrajudicial killings now. This is not a police state. This is a democratic and modern Bangladesh."
He added that Shipra had worked with him as a script supervisor in his film, Paap-Punno.
"The young filmmaker has a dream to make movies. She left studying engineering at Buet to make films."
Ex-Major Sinha, who used to make travel videos for his YouTube channel, went to Cox's Bazar for filming with Stamford students Shipra, Sifat and Tahsin Rifat Nur.
Police charged Sifat with killing Sinha and possessing drugs and Shipra with possessing drugs and handed Rifat to his parents' custody.
Shakira Parvin, assistant professor at Stamford's film and media studies department, said she and her fellow teachers were worried about the young filmmakers' future.
"They are well-mannered and good students. Sifat is a quiet boy… and Shipra worked on many renowned productions. Their family members and friends knew what they were doing in Cox's Bazar."
Shipra's brother Suvojit Debnath told The Daily Star that his sister was framed in the case.
"They are trying to create a story with which they can hide their misdeeds. This is their most-known technique, framing people with drugs," he said.
Sifat's uncle Masum Billah, a producer at Sangsad Television, said they appealed for Sifat's bail at a Cox's Bazar court on Thursday, but he was sent to jail.
Masum termed the police cases "fictional".
"Police wrote in the FIR that Sinha was killed by their guns and bullets. But they charged Sifat. How is that possible? It is self-contradictory."
Directors Mostofa Sarwar Farooki and Dipankar Dipon, Wahid Ibn Reza, and actress Jaya Ahsan also demanded release of the young filmmakers.