A court in Dhaka today ordered police to take permission from government and conduct an inquiry into an allegation of sedition brought by a lawyer against The Daily Star Editor and Publisher Mahfuz Anam.
In Cox’s Bazar and Gopalganj, local leaders of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) filed separate defamation cases against Anam seeking Tk 50 crore and Tk 10 crore in compensation respectively.
With two other libel suits filed in Laxmipur and Khulna on Tuesday, total five cases have been filed against the Star editor for publishing corruption reports against AL chief Sheikh Hasina, which was supplied by Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI), without independently verifying.
Local BCL leaders filed all the four defamation cases.
Today, Mostafizur Rahman Dulal, an assistant public prosecutor of Dhaka Special Judges Court-9, placed an application before Metropolitan Magistrate Snigdha Rani Chakrobarty to file a sedition case against Anam.
A few hours into recording the complaint, the court ordered officer-in-charge (OC) of Kotwali Police Station to assign an inspector-level officer to take permission from the government and conduct inquiry into the allegation before taking necessary legal steps.
He will have to submit report to the court by March 28.
Considering the sections under which the case has been filed, government’s prior permission is needed for taking the charges into cognizance, the court said.
The move came in the latest spate of hate campaign against Anam after he regretted at a television talk show on February 3 that publishing the unverified news supplied by DGFI during the 2007-2008 caretaker regime was a bad editorial judgement. Anam pointed out that almost all newspapers published such reports then.
A day after the interview, a news website ran a story with lots of twists and distortions under the headline “Daily Star Editor Mahfuz Anam admits to publishing DGFI-fed baseless stories”.
Following some Awami League lawmakers’ demand for trial of Mahfuz Anam, two defamation cases were filed against The Daily Star editor in Khulna and Laxmipur districts by local BCL leaders.
CASES IN COX’S BAZAR, GOPALGANJ
In Cox’s Bazar, Ishtiaq Ahmed Joy, president of district unit of BCL, filed a Tk 50-crore defamation case against Mahfuz Anam for publishing reports based on information given by DGFI which allegedly tarnished the image of AL chief Sheikh Hasina.
After recording his statement, Senor Judicial Magistrate Arun Kanti Pal ordered OC of Cox’s Bazar Sadar Model Police Station to take steps after investigating the matter.
In Gopalganj, Shariful Islam Munnah, organising secretary of the district unit of BCL, filed a Tk 10-crore defamation case with the court of Judicial Magistrate Nusrat Jabin Nimmi.
On accepting the case, the judge ordered Selim Reza, OC of Gopalganj Sadar Police Station, to start investigation into the allegation.