Missing Journo Kajol: Found after 53 days, sent to jail
First sued for ‘trespass’, then held under CrPC section 54
Fifty-three days after his disappearance, missing photojournalist Shafiqul Islam Kajol was found in Benapole yesterday on World Press Freedom Day, but was subsequently arrested and sent to jail.
Soon after being found, he was arrested by Benapole police -- initially on charges of trespassing, and then later in the evening under section 54 of the Code of Criminal Procedure -- and sent to Central Jashore Prison to await trial.
The photojournalist went missing on the evening of March 10 after leaving his office in Hatirpool. Several days after his disappearance, his mobile phone was found active in Benapole, Sub-inspector Munshi Abdul Lokman, investigation officer of his disappearance case, told The Daily Star.
HOW HE WAS FOUND
The Raghunathpur unit of Border Guard Bangladesh claimed that they discovered Kajol in a paddy field in Raghunathpur village of Sadipur union.
The spot where he was found is directly adjacent to the border and the Benapole Land Port.
The first information report submitted by the BGB Camp Commander Habildar Ashek Ali claimed that a night patrol team discovered Kajol walking into Bangladeshi territory at 12:45am. The FIR claimed that when apprehended, Kajol was only a hundred yards away from pillar number 20 along the Bangladesh-India border.
"I was out with my night patrol team when we saw a man walking across the field. The BSF have large rotating flashlights that sweep over Bangladeshi territory at night, and we saw him in that light," claimed Nayek Abdul Awal of BGB's Raghunathpur camp.
"We went up to him to ask who he was, what he was doing there, but he was unable to answer anything. We brought him to the camp and handed him over to the police," he claimed.
The two countries are separated by a barbed wire fence, and when asked whether Awal had inspected any length of the fence for breaches through which Kajol may have entered from India, he said he did not.
Meanwhile, in Dhaka, Kajol's family received a call from Benapole police.
"Around 2:48am in the morning, a duty officer of Benapole Police Station called on my mother's phone and asked where my father is. I said that he is still missing, and the police officer handed the phone to my father," said Kajol's son Monorom Polok.
"The first thing my father said is that he's alive. He asked us to come and fetch him from Benapole," said Polok.
As Polok headed towards Benapole, the BGB filed a case against Kajol for "entering Bangladesh illegally from India through Benapole border" because he had no passport or visa when he was found, Benapole Port Police Station Officer-in-Charge Mamun Khan said.
WHAT HAPPENED IN COURT
Kajol was handcuffed and brought to the court at 2:47pm yesterday.
When Kajol was brought to the court in a battery-run three-wheeler, his son Monorom Polok met him in an embrace -- it was the first time the two had seen each other since Kajol went missing.
But their joy was short-lived because Kajol was transported behind bars to the court's holding cell almost immediately.
According to Section 11(3) of the Passport Act, under which he was arrested, the punishment ranges from a fine of Tk 500 to three months' imprisonment.
His lawyer Sudipto Ghosh requested bail, which was granted last evening but he was almost immediately shown arrested under section 54.
Magistrate Manzurul Islam of Jashore Chief Judicial Magistrate Court oversaw the proceedings.
Section 54 of the Code of Criminal Procedure stipulates that a person can be arrested without a warrant if there is "credible information" of his involvement with a "cognisable offence".
Cognisable offences include a gamut of felonies ranging from grave offences like rape to things like "taking part in an unlawful assembly".
Jashore Kotwali Police Station's Officer-in-charge Moniruzzaman confirmed to our correspondent the arrest was made by his police station.
"He has been arrested under section 54 because he has three DSA cases and he is being held in prison so that the relevant Dhaka courts can process arrest warrants against him and take him to Dhaka," said Moniruzzaman.
"He has been sent to Jashore Central Jail where he will be under quarantine for 14 days."
On the other hand, Polok stated that his father's arrest in this charge left him in shock.
"My lawyer told me that my father had gotten bail, so he went to the courthouse to get the papers. Suddenly I saw police come, take my father out of the holding cell, and put him into a van. I asked them if they are releasing him, but they said no," said Polok.
Without a further word, his father was taken to Jashore Central Jail, he said. And so, the son who had left Dhaka hoping to return with his father the same day, was left empty-handed. Kajol's disappearance came a day after Saifuzzaman Shikhor -- a ruling party lawmaker from Magura-1 -- filed a case against him and 31 others on charge of publishing a report with "false information" and circulating it on social media.
A further case was filed under the Digital Security Act in Hazaribagh Police Station the same night Kajol went missing, and another one was filed the next day in Kamrangir Char Police Station.
Kajol's family had filed a general diary with the Chawkbazaar Police Station on March 11, reporting him missing.
TWO MORE JOURNALISTS ASSAULTED IN JAMALPUR
On May 2 in Jamalpur municipality, two camerapersons of Independent TV and XTV were assaulted when attempting to take footage of a fight that had broken out between two sections of Awami League over distributing relief.
Abul Kalam Azad, 36, the cameraperson of SomoyTV, said that around 7:30pm, he had gone to Shahpur, a neighbourhood in town, upon news that that followers of the district AL member Helal Uddin and the ward AL organising secretary Moazzem Hossain were fighting.
He was accompanied by Al Amin, 22, a cameraperson of Independent TV.
"I had just reached the spot, I had not even started rolling my camera when they attacked me," said Azad.
He was badly beaten up, his camera was smashed, and he had been treated at the district hospital, said OC of Sadar Police Station Salimuzzaman.
On May 1, four journalists were arrested under the Digital Security Act, of whom three were from Narsingdi, and the other was from Fulgazi in Feni.