The High Court today directed the home secretary to make arrangements for examining whether noted photographer Shahidul Alam was mentally tortured after he was detained.
The HC bench of Justice Syed Muhammad Dastagir Husain and Justice Md Iqbal Kabir passed the order after hearing a writ petition filed by Shahidul’s wife Rahnuma Ahmed challenging the lower court order that placed him on a seven-day remand.
The medical tests will be conducted under Section 2 (6) of Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention) Act, 2013.
The HC also directed the home secretary to submit a report to this effect before the lower court concerned by next Monday.
A Dhaka court on Monday, August 6, placed Shahidul Alam on a seven-day remand in a case filed under the controversial Section 57 of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Act on charges of spreading propaganda and false information against the government.
During a hearing of the case, Shahidul told the court that he was tortured in custody. However, police denied the allegation.
In response to a writ petition filed by Rahnuma Ahmed on Tuesday, the High Court directed authorities concerned to immediately send him to the BSMMU for examining Shahidul's physical condition and submit a report by 10:30am today. The court also fixed today for further hearing on the petition.
Meanwhile, the government yesterday filed a petition with the Supreme Court seeking stay on the High Court order that directed the authorities concerned to send Shahidul Alam to the BSMMU.
Over 500 academics, writers, artists, activists and journalists from around the world -- including Noam Chomsky, Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Patrick Farrell, and celebrated writer Bapsi Sidhwa -- condemned the detention and alleged torture of Shahidul Alam, and demanded his immediate release.
“Shahidul Alam’s detention underlines the growing crackdown on dissenting voices in Bangladesh, in a pattern that is visible elsewhere too,” the signatories said in their statement published on the website of well-known Pakistani journalist and blogger Beena Sarwar.
They also demanded that the government drop all charges against Shahidul, ensure his medical treatment and release him immediately.
Internationally acclaimed photojournalist Raghu Rai, who was awarded as a friend of Bangladesh Liberation War, also wrote an open letter addressed to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina requesting her not to punish Shahidul Alam.