12:00 AM, January 03, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:26 AM, January 03, 2019

'Fake' Polls Data: Journo placed on three-day remand

A Khulna court yesterday placed Hedayet Hossain Mollah, local correspondent of the Dhaka Tribune, on a three-day remand in a case filed under the Digital Security Act.

Judge Nayan Biswas of Khulna Judicial Magistrate Court-3 passed the order after Batiaghata Police Station OC Mahabubur Rahman, also the investigation officer of the case, produced Hedayet before the court and sought a seven-day remand.

“I prayed for my client's bail as he is a cardiac patient. But the court put him on remand,” Hedayet's lawyer Tarik Mahamud told The Daily Star.

Hedayet, also the city editor of local daily “Probaha” and the immediate-past treasurer of Khulna Press Club, was arrested on Tuesday noon in the case filed for publishing “false” information on the number of votes cast in a constituency in the district during Sunday's polls.

Batiaghata Upazila Nirbahi Officer Debashish Chowdhury, also the assistant returning officer, filed the case with Batiaghata police against Hedayet and Rashidul Islam, staff reporter of the daily Manab Zamin.

The case statement said the accused published false, fabricated and provocative information on the voting with the use of electronic devices, including laptops, which might confuse people and create chaos.

Such activities made the “fair election” questionable, the statement said.

According to the initial announcement of the election results, the number of votes cast in Khulna-1 was higher than the total number of voters in the constituency.

As the matter was brought to the returning officer's attention, he said it was a mistake and later came up with a correction, said local journalists.

By the time the correction could be made, the two media outlets ran reports saying the number of votes cast was around 22,000 higher than the actual number of voters, they said.

Documents provided by the returning officer's office showed 45,000 of the 2,59,420 voters did not cast their ballots.

Meanwhile, Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) in a statement yesterday demanded the immediate release of the arrested journalist and expressed concern over the “use of the Digital Security Act”.

The statement said the law would squeeze the scope for independent journalism and urged the authorities to withdraw the case.

Mohammad Shah Alam, secretary of Khulna Union of Journalists told The Daily Star that they would follow the legal procedures to deal with the matter. They would also hold a human chain in front of the Returning Officer's office in the district to “ensure justice for the two journalists”, he added.

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