Three Swechchasebak League leaders from Chuadanga were arrested yesterday after being accused in a Digital Security Act case involving a local parliamentarian.
Solaiman Haque Joardar, the local ruling party lawmaker of Chuadanga-1, was "defamed" by the three men, who are also aligned with the ruling party, after they had uploaded on Facebook an edited version of a speech he had made.
The case was filed not by Joardar but by Sahabul Hossain, the vice-president of Chuadanga BCL, with Chuadanga Police Station, accusing six named and 40-50 unnamed persons.
Hossain alleged that the edits distorted Joardar's speech.
"He delivered a speech of 16 minutes and 54 seconds at a workshop at Chuadanga's Shilpakala Academy on August 13, 2020. But Hossain accused in the case statement that the speech was deliberately cut short and edited," said Abu Jihad Fakrul Alam Khan, officer-in-charge (OC) of the station, quoting case statement.
In the edited version of the speech, a copy of which is with The Daily Star, Joardar was heard warning journalists about yellow journalism.
The leaders arrested are Imran Ahmed, 32, joint convener of Chuadanga Sadar upazila unit; Tourat Hossain, 28, president of Ward-5; and Dishan Ahmed, 24, organising secretary of Ward-3 unit of Sadar upazila.
The OC said the shortened version of the speech was uploaded not by the three arrestees but by another person named Rakibul Alam Nippon, who is a Chuadanga Bangladesh Chhattra League activist.
On August 16, 2020, Nippon had uploaded the video with a caption accusing Joardar of extremism, organised crime and intimidating the media, the OC said.
The video was then shared by the three accused in the case and 37 others, he added.
According to the case statement, the accused posted the video on Facebook in order to create unrest and chaos in the society and to tarnish the social status, dignity and reputation of the lawmaker.
The trio were arrested from Hasan Shahid Chattar in the town around 8:30pm on Wednesday, informed police.
On the day the Facebook post was made, Hossain filed the DSA case.
The OC said that after conducting a probe, the investigation officer (IO) of the case Bhabatosh Ghosh submitted the charge sheet to Chuadanga Chief Judicial Magistrate's Court on September 12.
Following a hearing on the charge sheet, the court issued warrants against the accused on January 20, 2021. Police said the arrestees were produced before the court yesterday and were then sent to jail.
According to several sources of Chuadanga AL, the DSA case was a result of factional frictions between the district party.
One of the two factions is led by the parliamentarian Joardar, while the other by district Awami League General Secretary Azadul Islam Azad and Swechchhasebak League district convener Obaidur Rahman Choudhury Zipu, who was the former mayor of Chuadanga municipality.
According to sources within the party, all the accused are loyalists of Obaidur Rahman Choudhury Zipu.
When contacted, Zipu said that this case was meant to harass party leaders and activists. This correspondent repeatedly tried to contact Solaiman Joardar but to no avail.
In another incident, Lalmonirhat Detective Branch of Police arrested the principal of a local madrasa under the DSA.
Zahidul Islam, 33, the principal of Dawatul Quran Mahila Madrasa (Nurani Madrasa) from Bhelabari, had allegedly shared a distorted photo of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Facebook.
According to police, the arrestee had opened a Facebook account named "Zahid Chhatra" to promote extremist ideology and militancy. From that account, he shared a distorted photo of the PM caricaturing her as an animal. The police themselves filed the case on April 8 with Aditmari Police Station.
Zahidul was arrested from his house on Thursday morning. Lalmonirhat Superintendent of Police Abida Sultana confirmed the incident to The Daily Star.