Bangladesh student protests: Photographer Shahid Ul Alam arrested hours after interview with Al-Jazeera, activists decry police action

Noted photographer from Bangladesh, Shahid Ul Alam was arrested by the Bangladesh Police late on Sunday, hours after his interview with Al Jazeera regarding students protests happening in the country. Alam had also been sharing photos of the protests on his Facebook profile and discussing them through Facebook Live.

At least 20 plainclothes officers picked up Shahidul Alam, 63, from his Dhaka home late on Sunday, his colleague Abir Abdullah told AFP. "He has been brought to our office early this morning (Monday). We are interrogating him for giving false information to different media and for provocative comments," police official Moshiur Rahman told AFP. " He could not give proper answers. He admitted that these are his personal opinion," he said, adding police would take legal actions against him.

"And he could not give proper answers. He admitted that these are his personal opinions," he said, adding police would take legal actions against him.

Image from Facebook/ShahidulAlamDrik

Image from Facebook/ShahidulAlamDrik

Dhaka Tribune reported that the police had confirmed that Alam was picked up from his house but he was not detained.

Alam had shot images of the demonstrations by students in Dhaka and other places, and discussed the protests on videos which he shared on Facebook.

At around midnight of 5 August, a Facebook page belonging to Drik Gallery (of which Alam is the founder) uploaded a post alleging that Alam was 'abducted' from his home in Dhaka on Sunday night, allegedly by officials from the city police’s Detective Branch, for posts supporting the ongoing student protests. Drik's statement stated,"According to security guards of the apartment building and other eyewitness reports, there were roughly 30 to 35 men, in plain clothes, who claimed to be from the Detective Branch (DB), who went upstairs, brought down Dr Alam who was screaming as he was forcibly pushed into the waiting car, a HiAce, with the words Popular Life Insurance, written on the outside."

"They taped up the CCTV camera, and took away the CCTV camera footage. The guards were manhandled and locked up. His partner Rahnuma Ahmed, was in a neigbouring flat, raced downstairs on hearing the scream, but the car carrying him and two other cars waiting outside, sped away," the statement further mentions.

As of now, Alam's whereabouts are unknown. His arrest has caused international outrage. Several journalists tweeted about his alleged abduction in order to bring world media's attention to the issue and mount pressure on the Bangladeshi authorities.



Amnesty released a statement demanding that the Bangladeshi authorities should unconditionally and immediately release Alam. One of the paragraphs in statement mentions, "Shahidul Alam, the photographer who was detained by the Detective Branch of the Bangladesh police, has not thus far been charged with any offence. There are fears that he could be charged under Section 57 of Bangladesh’s draconian Information Communication Technology Act, which is inconsistent with international legal standards for the protection of the right to freedom of expression."

Journalists covering the massive student protests being staged in Bangladesh have reportedly come under attack by members of the ruling party's student wing. A senior journalist from a leading newspaper in Bangladesh told Firstpost that journalists have been asked to not communicate with any foreign publications regarding the protests, as random arrests are taking place.

Parts of Dhaka have come to a standstill since a students' protest movement began due to an accident by a speeding bus that killed two students.

Thousands of students from schools and colleges took to the streets and demanded action from the authorities for road safety across the country. The protests took a violent turn as students were dispersed after repeated attacks launched by law-enforcement agencies and Bangladesh Chhatra League, the ruling party's student wing for the past few days.

Firstpost reported earlier that several journalists including an Associated Press photojournalist were attacked and injured while covering the students' protest, on Sunday in Dhaka. They were  reportedly assaulted by the armed Chhatra League men in the Science Laboratory area. The incident took place at around 2 pm when a number of journalists and photojournalists were covering the protest in front of Dhaka City College, eyewitnesses and local businessmen said. Local media also reported that another group of journalists was attacked on Dhanmondi Road 2 as well.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Aug 06, 2018 18:16 PM

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