TIB condemns Kurigram journalist’s arrest from home by mobile court

Terming the imprisonment of the Kurigram journalist illegal, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) on Saturday said such misuse of law is in contravention of the constitutional commitment and against the freedom of media.

A mobile court on Friday midnight sentenced the journalist - Ariful Islam Rigan, Kurigram district correspondent of online news portal Bangla Tribune - to one year in jail and fined him Tk 50,000 for possession of 'liquor and hemp'.

Describing the incident similar to showing disrespect to the freedom of media, the anti-graft watchdog demanded a speedy investigation into the incident and holding those responsible accountable.

“People would lose their trust in local administration as well as in government if speedy investigation into the nasty incident and accountability of the concerned are not ensured,” they said in a statement.

Dr Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of TIB, said it is illegal to conduct a mobile court after lifting a man from his home at midnight.

If the journalist were a suspect, they might have handled the issue in different way. “But lifting a man after breaking into his home at midnight in presence of an executive magistrate is certainly a questionable incident,” he added.

Dr Iftekharuzzaman found it clear that the motive behind the step is something different than suppressing crime. He urged the authorities concerned to ensure strict legal action against those responsible.

Rintu Bikash Chakma, the executive magistrate who led the mobile court, said “a taskforce of police, Ansar, and Department of Narcotics Control arrested Ariful with 450ml local liquor and 100g hemp at midnight.”

But Ariful’s wife Mostarima Sardar Nitu said a group of law enforcers entered their home at Charuapara around midnight and took away her husband forcefully.

TIB statement noted that Rigan had been reporting a series of stories for Bangla Tribune on the various failings and allegations of corruption centering the Kurigram DC’s office, and the unusual nature of the arrest using mobile court raises suspicions it may have been related to his journalistic work.

Source: United News of Bangladesh