How will I celebrate Eid when my daughter is jailed: Khadija’s mother

Jagannath University student Khadijatul KubraCollected

“There is no peace in my life since the day my daughter was arrested. How will we celebrate Eid when my daughter is in prison? I never have thought that my daughter would be spending days in jail,” said Fatema Khatun, mother of Khadijatul Kubra, who is imprisoned in a case filed under the Digital Security Act.

Khadijatul Kubra is a second year student of the political science department at the Jagannath University. She has been in prison for the last eight months in a case filed under the Digital Security Act. Khadija’s family lives in Mirpur. Khadija’s father is an expatriate.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Fatema Khatun said, “Khadija’s father has been sending money for Eid shopping since her childhood. Khadija used to buy clothes of her choice from different markets with that money. Khadija’s father has sent money this year too. I bought some clothes for Khadija with that money and gave it to her in jail two weeks ago.”

Khadijatul Kubra is currently imprisoned in Kashimpur Women's Jail.

Speaking about meeting her daughter before Eid, Fatema Khatun told Prothom Alo on Thursday, “My daughter has always been good in studies. She enrolled in Jagannath University with many dreams. However, those dreams are on the verge of being shattered. She always wanted to get a good score in the exams as she wanted to become a university teacher. However, she has been in jail for eight months now. I don’t know when she will be released either.”

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In 2020, the police lodged two separate cases against Khadija and Major (retired) Delwar Hossain with the Kalabagan and New Market police stations in Dhaka under the Digital Security Act on allegations of spreading anti-government statements and tarnishing the image of the country. The second case was filed a week after the first one, with the same allegation.

According to the case statements, both the plaintiffs – sub inspectors (SI) Khairul Islam and Arif Hossain – noticed a video of a programme titled ‘Humanity for Bangladesh’ hosted by Khadija with Delwar Hossain as the guest while browsing YouTube on their smartphones. Delwar, in the video, gave various instructions to overthrow the democratic government of Bangladesh, which prompted the police officers to file the lawsuits.

Jagannath University student Khadijatul Kubra

The case statements further states that Khadija and Delwar have long been spreading fictitious, fabricated, false, and defamatory statements against the prime minister, various government agencies, and important personalities of the state in an effort to topple the legitimate government. The accused were also trying to destroy the communal harmony through their conspiracy of creating enmity and hatred among different communities.

Eight days later, SI Arif Hossain filed the second case, stating that he saw the video at 9:15 pm on 19 October when he was browsing YouTube on his smartphone. He filed the case immediately after seeing the video at around 11:30 pm on the day.  The case statements of both cases were almost the same.

Later, the police investigated the two cases and pressed charges against Khadijatul Kubra and Delwar Hossain in May last year. The cyber tribunal of Dhaka took the charges to its cognizance and issued arrest warrants against the accused.

Later, Khadijatul Kubra was arrested by New Market police on 17 September. She has been in prison since then.

The trial court dismissed the accused’s bail plea twice. Later, in February this year, the High Court granted her plea for bail. However, the chamber judge stayed the bail order later following a petition from the state.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Khadijatul Kubra’s lawyer advocate Jyotirmoy Barua said, “The Jagannath University student was granted bail on 16 February by the High Court. However, the chamber judge stayed the bail order later. A hearing will be held at the full bench of Appellate Division in this regard.”

‘Let her be back to normal life’

Khadija’s family is from Munshiganj. However, she was grown up in Dhaka. Sijum Munira, Khadija’s elder sister, told Prothom Alo that her parents have been passing days in anxiety since his sister’s arrest in a case filed under the Digital Security Act.

She said, “They became more anxious as my sister wasn’t released even during Eid. My mother is crying all day. She kept on saying, ‘How will we celebrate Eid with my daughter languishing in prison?’”

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Sirajum Munira further said her mother will go to Kashimpur Central Jail on Eid day. She will take Khadija’s favourite foods with her so that Khadija can at least have a good meal on the day of Eid.

She said, “We have been running all the time from court to jail and from jail to lawyer’s chambers since the day my sister was arrested. I don't know how many more days we have to run like this. My earnest and humble request to the government, please don’t ruin my sister’s academic career. We request you to give her a chance to return to a normal life.”

*This report appeared on the print version of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ashish Basu