Shahidul Alam gets division in jail

The High Court yesterday directed the government to give first-class division facilities in jail to noted photographer Shahidul Alam.

The HC bench of Justice Borhanuddin and Justice Md Mostafizur Rahman yesterday passed the order following a writ petition filed by Shahidul Alam's wife Prof Rahnuma Ahmed.

In the petition, she sought for the HC's order to the home secretary and jail authorities to provide Shahidul Alam with first-class division facilities.

The division facilities would include a bed, a table, a chair, a mosquito-net, a newspaper and better food, a jail official told The Daily Star.

After the HC passed the order, Rahnuma's lawyers, Sara Hossain and Jyotirmoy Barua, told reporters at the Supreme Court Bar Association office premises that the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) in Dhaka on August 27 ordered the authorities concerned to provide Shahidul with first-class division facilities.

They added that Shahidul, however, was not given the facilities and, therefore, the writ petition was moved before the HC yesterday for necessary orders to this effect.

During a hearing earlier in the day, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam, representing the government, opposed the writ petition, saying the CMM's court had already ordered the authorities concerned to give first-class division facilities to Shahidul Alam.

“If that order is not executed, Shahidul can submit an application to the CMM's court about the non-implementation of its order,” he said.

The 63-year-old internationally acclaimed photographer is now in Dhaka central jail in a case filed under the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act for “spreading propaganda and false information against the government”.

Shahidul was picked up by law enforcers from his home in the capital's Dhanmondi area on the night of August 5. The following day, police filed the case against him.

He was placed on a seven-day remand after police produced him before a Dhaka court the same day, seeking a 10-day remand.

In court, Shahidul said he was tortured in custody. Police, however, denied the allegation.

Upon completion of his remand, he was sent to jail on August 13.

On September 4, a judge of the HC bench felt “embarrassed” to hear Shahidul's bail petition in the case against him.

The bench, however, did not disclose a reason for it.