Kajol’s DSA Plight: Charges in 3 cases framed in 1 day
A Dhaka tribunal yesterday framed charges against photojournalist Shafiqul Islam Kajol in three cases filed under the Digital Security Act.
Kajol was charged with circulating indecent, defamatory, objectionable, and fake information about some ministers, lawmakers, and top Jubo Mahila League leaders on Facebook.
The photojournalist, now on bail, pleaded not guilty and demanded justice after Judge Mohammad Ash Sams Joglul Hossain of Dhaka Cyber Tribunal read out the charges to him, Shamim Al Mamun, bench assistant of the tribunal, told The Daily Star.
Earlier in the day, the judge rejected three petitions submitted for discharging Kajol from the cases.
The tribunal also set January 2 for starting the cases' trial.
"We will go to the higher court, challenging the legality of the charge-framing orders in the cases," Jyotirmoy Barua, a defence lawyer, told The Daily Star yesterday.
The three DSA cases were filed by Awami League lawmaker (Magura-1) Saifuzzaman Shikhor and Jubo Mahila League central committee members Usmin Ara Bally and Sumaiya Chowdhury Bonya with Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Hazaribagh and Kamrangirchar police stations on March 9, 10 and 11 last year.
DB police Sub-inspector Mohammad Russell Mollah, the investigation officer, submitted charge sheets in the three cases to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court of Dhaka on April 8, February 4 and March 14 this year.
Kajol went missing on March 10 last year, a day after the first case was filed. Members of Border Guard Bangladesh found him roaming around the Benapole border area on May 3 and detained him.
His family said he was innocent and that he became a victim of enforced disappearance.
A Jashore court sent him to jail the same day under section 54 of the Code of the Criminal Procedure (CrPC). He was later shown arrested in the cases.
The lower court denied him bail for seven months until the High Court on November 24 granted him bail in one of the cases. The HC on December 17 granted him bail in two other cases after Kajol's lawyer argued that probes had to be complete within 75 days of filing of the cases, and the investigators failed to do so.
The photojournalist walked out of jail on December 25 last year.
CHARGES IN THREE CASES
Lawmaker Shikhor had filed the case against Kajol, Bangla daily Manabzamin Editor-in-Chief Matiur Rahman Chowdhury, and 30 others over publishing "false news and circulating it on social media".
The investigation officer did not include the names of Matiur and the 30 others accused in the charge sheet because although a news report by the daily referred to an MP from Magura, it did not name the lawmaker or the constituency, according to the charge sheet.
The charge sheet stated that Kajol posted defamatory, objectionable and indecent writings on his Facebook profile against several leaders and activists of Awami League and Jubo Mahila League.
Kajol's purpose was to deteriorate law and order through aggressive intimidation and posting defamatory photos and writings on Facebook, the charge sheet said.
According to the charge sheet, the Manabzamin published the report on March 2 last year under the headline "Papia names 30 including bureaucrats, MPs and businessmen". The report was on Jubo Mahila League's Narsingdi district general secretary Shamima Nur Papia who was arrested by Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) over her involvement in different crimes.
After the publication of the report, writings were posted on Facebook from various IDs. The lawmaker filed the case after scrutinising those Facebook posts, the charge sheet added.
In the charge sheet of the case filed by Usmin Ara Bally, the investigator said Kajol published fake news on his Facebook page regarding the arrest and alleged crimes of expelled Jubo League leader Papia.
Kajol also allegedly tried to extort the female leaders of Jubo Mahila League by coming up with indecent posts and fake photographs, and threatened to cast aspersions on their character through his Facebook account, the charge sheet also said.
The investigation officer claimed to have found information on Kajol's chat history with Usmin Ara Bally on Facebook between March 10 and 17 last year. Moreover, on March 3 that year, Kajol sent six photographs to Usmin's messenger; of them, one photograph was indecent, the charge sheet added.
In the charge sheet of the case filed by Sumaiya Chowdhury Bonya, the investigator said Kajol's main purpose was to tarnish the images of ruling party leaders and activists and extort money from them by uploading fake information.
The charge sheet said that Kajol made a Facebook post, saying that Bonya [complainant] was one of Papia's accomplices" in her illegal business of women and drugs".
He sent vulgar texts and pornographic images to various Facebook IDs, the charge sheet said.
Kajol also uploaded indecent, defamatory, and objectionable information about the complainant's husband Asaduzzaman Nahid, the charge sheet added.
The investigator stated in the charge sheets of Jubo Mahila League leaders' cases that Kajol uploaded indecent, defamatory, objectionable and fake information about Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, AL General Secretary and Road Transport Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader, several other ministers, AL leader and lawmaker Amir Hossain Amu, others lawmakers, Jubo Mahila League President Nazma Akhter, General Secretary Apu Ukil and several other female leaders and activists.