After 20 days of hide and seek, police finally arrested former Sonagazi Officer-in-charge Moazzem Hossain from the capital’s Supreme Court area.
He went into hiding after police authorities allowed him to leave for the capital, instead of arresting him, two days after a Dhaka court ordered his arrest. The arrest warrant, issued in on May 27, was widely covered in the media.
Moazzem was sued on May 15 under the Digital Security Act on charges of recording the statement of Nusrat Jahan Rafi, a victim of sexual harassment who later died in an arson attack, on his phone without her consent and circulating the clip on social media.
For the last few days, police sources had been saying that Moazzem was staying in a relative’s house in Dhaka’s Kalyanpur. While his phone was switched off, he communicated with people through mobile apps.
The delay in his arrest even after the arrest warrant raised questions about the sincerity of the police force to nab one
of their own. There are many instances when law enforcers arrested people, including veteran journalist Probir Sikdar and quota reform leader Rashed Khan, just hours after they were sued. There are also instances of arrest under the ICT law even before the filing of cases. In many cases, there were no arrest warrant.
Yesterday, Moazzem went to the High Court to seek an anticipatory bail. On information, several police teams took position in the area and arrested him around 3:30pm, police sources said.
“Initially, it was difficult to recognise him as he grew a beard and a mustache. But finally, we identified him and made the arrest,” said a police official, asking not to be named.
He will be handed over to Sonagazi police in Feni as an arrest warrant is pending there. Until the handover, he will be in the custody of Shahbagh police, said Maruf Hossain Sorder, deputy commissioner (Ramna Division) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police.
Moazzem is likely to be produced before a Cyber Tribunal in Dhaka where a hearing is scheduled for today, police and court sources said.
Moazzem’s lawyer Salma Sultana said she had requested the High Court to hear her client’s bail petition yesterday. But the bench of Justice Md Moinul Islam Chowdhury and Justice Khizir Hayat said it would do so in presence of the police officer today.
But since he has been arrested, the petition will not be heard, she told The Daily Star.
The case against Moazzem was filed by Supreme Court lawyer Syed Sayedul Haque Suman.
An investigation by the Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) found Moazzem himself recorded the video on his phone and later passed the footage to someone else. However, the report does not name that person.
Moazzem has been charged with collecting and using personal information without permission, publishing defamatory information and causing deterioration of law and order.
If found guilty, he can be jailed for up to 15 years, said Suman.
The footage shows Moazzem asking Nusrat some humiliating questions.
Nusrat, a student of Sonagazi Islamia Senior Fazil Madrasa in Feni’s Sonagazi upazila, was set ablaze on April 6 allegedly for refusing to withdraw a case filed against the madrasa principal, Siraj Ud Doula, for sexually harassing her.
She died at Dhaka Medical College Hospital on April 10. On the same day, the OC was withdrawn as Nusrat’s family alleged he was not cooperating with them.
He was suspended on May 8 for negligence in duty and attached to the office of DIG (Rangpur range).