Dramatic events overnight at Shahbagh police station

Dramatic events overnight at Shahbagh police station
Media persons demonstrating in front of Shahbagh police station for release of Rozina Islam. Pic Tanvir Ahammed

This story first appeared in Prothom Alo

By Ahmed Deepto

Journalist Rozina Islam was detained at the secretariat for nearly 6 hours and harassed during the time there. Her family claims that she was harassed both physically and mentally. Instead of rushing her to hospital, she was taken to the police station where charges were filed against her.

Rozina fell ill after being confined to a room for so long. While emerging from the secretariat, police told Prothom Alo that she was being taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital for treatment. At around 8:30pm she was handed over to the police and brought to the Shahbagh police station at 8:45pm.

Rozina Islam’s sister breaks down in front of Shahbagh police station

Rozina Islam’s sister breaks down in front of Shahbagh police station. Pic Tanveer Ahammed

Drama at the police station

The police at Shahbagh police station throughout the night hedged around the issue of medical treatment for Rozina Islam. Her family asked the police to arrange for her treatment, but nothing was done.

At around 11:00pm the police stated that charges had been brought about against Rozina Islam at the Shahbagh police station. At 11:45pm they briefed the media that a case had been filed against her. They said that she would be kept at the police station overnight.

Journalist Rozina Islam had taken the second dose of the Covid vaccine yesterday, Monday. After the prolonged harassment at the secretariat, she fell physically and mentally ill. She was kept in the room of the officer-in-charge (OC) at the Shahbagh police station. She was given the food, saline and medication brought for her by family.

At around 1:30am word got out that Rozina Islam would be taken to the police’s Detective Branch (DB) office. Police vehicles were even seen being readied at the police station premises. The journalists present there began to protest. The police then said that Rozina Islam would be taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital for treatment. Her family members objected.

At around 2:30am Rozina Islam’s husband Munirul Islam was allowed to meet her. After meeting with her, he told newspersons that the police wanted to take her to Dhaka Medical College Hospital, but there was risk of coronavirus infection at the emergency department there.

Media persons demonstrate in front of Shahbagh police station

Media persons demonstrate in front of Shahbagh police station. Pic Tanveer Ahammed

The family’s first demand was that she be taken to a private hospital in the capital city for treatment. The police did not agree. They then requested that she be taken to the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University nearby at the Shahbagh intersection. The officers of Shahbagh police station turned down that request too, even though they had been saying that she required treatment. After that, they did not raise the issue of her medical treatment anymore.

Police misbehavior

In the early hours at around 4:00am, additional deputy commissioner (ADC) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police Ramna division, Harun-Ur-Rashid, asked the newspersons to leave the police station premises. As they were leaving, the ADC told journalist Rozina Islam’s younger sister Sabina Yasmin to leave too. When the journalists protested, the policemen misbehaved with them.

The agitated police officers behaved badly with the journalists there. Journalist Md Zahidul Islam of The Business Standard was making a video of the happenings and his mobile was snatched away from him. The police threatened to send Rozina Islam to jail and also misbehaved with her family, including her sister. They forced them to leave the police station premises.

Shahbagh police station inspector (investigations) Arifur Rahman Sardar also misbehaved with the media persons and Rozina Islam’s relatives. Around 20 or so journalists were present at the time.

When the journalists began protesting, the policemen misbehaved with them again. After the newsmen left the premises, the police returned the mobile phone they had snatched away.

Rozina Islam’s sister talks to the media in front of Shahbagh police station.

Rozina Islam’s sister talks to the media in front of Shahbagh police station. Pic Tanvir Ahammed

The journalists and Rozina Islam’s relatives then waited on the footpath in front of the police station’s main gate. After some time, ADC Harun-Ur- Rashid came along and said that Shahbagh police station was a key point installation (KPI) and so everyone should remain outside.

He said, “There are other people in the police station, many accused persons, ammunition and important records. It could be a security threat if you remain inside.”

He requested that they don’t keep his misbehavior in mind.

Journalist Rozina Islam being harassed at the secretariat

Journalist Rozina Islam being harassed at the secretariat. Pic Tanvir Ahammed

Suddenly in court custody

At 7:45am, Rozina Islam was suddenly taken from the Shahbagh police station to the court of the chief metropolitan magistrate (CMM). Taking anyone at such an early hour to this court is quite unprecedented. Rozina was taken straight to court custody there.

Then just after 11:00am Tuesday, Rozina Islam as brought to the CMM court, where magistrate Mohammad Jasim Uddin rejected the remand appeal after the hearing. The Shahbagh police station had appealed to take her on a five-day remand.

*This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ayesha Kabir.

Link to original story

About SAWM Team

South Asian Women in Media (SAWM) is a network of women media professionals in South Asia. SAWM works for freedom of press, increased participation of women in the media, a gender-sensitive work environment and a gender-equal outlook in the media. Launched in April 2008, SAWM’s central secretariat is in Lahore, Pakistan and the association has country chapters in eight members of SAARC. SAWM helps women working in media to network across borders, and with international rights organizations, to assert their rights and defend their interests.