ICT Act Case: Photographer Shahidul Alam seeks High Court bail

Internationally-acclaimed photographer Shahidul Alam on Tuesday filed a bail petition with the High Court in a case against him under the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act.

Shahidul submitted the petition through his lawyers Sara Hossain and Jyotirmoy Barua.

The petition stated that he may be granted bail as he is physically ill, adding that he will, however, face the trial proceedings and, if granted bail, will not leave the country.

The HC may hold a hearing on the bail petition next week, his lawyers told The Daily Star yesterday.

Citing from the bail petition, Sarah said separate petitions were filed twice, with the lower courts concerned, seeking bail for Shahidul, but the courts hadn't allowed them to move the petitions.

The petition was included in yesterday's hearing list of the HC bench of Justice Md Ruhul Quddus and Khandaker Diliruzzaman.

Justice Ruhul told the lawyers that they (court judges) would examine the decisions of the HC and Appellate Division in such cases, and asked them to move Shahidul's bail petition next week.

Attorney General Mahbubey Alam represented the government in the courtroom.

The photographer was sent behind bars on charges of “spreading propaganda and false information against the government”.

Shahidul, 63, was picked up by law enforcers on the night of August 5 from his home in the capital's Dhanmondi area.

The following day, he was placed on a seven-day remand after police had produced him before a court seeking a 10-day remand. He told the court that he was tortured in custody, but police denied the allegation.

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

Meanwhile, Dr Pabitra Sarkar, former vice chancellor of Rabindra Bharati University in Kolkata, and poet Subodh Sarkar, chairman Pashchimbanga Kabita Academy, criticised the Bangladesh government over the arrest of Shahidul Alam.

While speaking to The Daily Star on Tuesday, they said they hoped for Shahidul's quick release.

ARREST APPROPRIATE: JOY

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's ICT affairs adviser and son Sajeeb Wazed Joy today called “appropriate” photographer Shahidul Alam's arrest and claimed that Shahidul had spread rumours instigating violence during last month's student protests for road safety, reports BSS.

In a signed article in the US-based RealClearPolitics (RCP) media outlet, Joy wrote that Shahidul was one of those responsible for turning a peaceful protest into a violent one.

He added Alam was arrested for “inciting violence, which, because of his celebrity [status] and despite the facts, led to an international outcry on his behalf.

“Police arrested Mr. Alam not because he held a contrary view but because his latest pronouncements caused real harm. Mr. Alam's words helped transformed a peaceful protest into lawless violence,” Joy wrote.

He added that hijacking a protest by young students and endangering their lives, along with those of many other Bangladeshis, was not politics but rather a form of terrorism.

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