Police's speedy arrest of Mahiya Mahi questioned

What happened with film actress Mahiya Mahi proves the dangers of the Digital Security Act and the reasons for which the act has to be annulled

Actress Mahiya Mahi was taken to a Gazipur court on Saturday afternoon after her arrest.Collected

What happened with film actress Mahiya Mahi proves the dangers of the Digital Security Act and the reasons for which the act has to be annulled.

Questions have been raised over the alacrity with which the police in Gazipur filed a case against actress Mahiya Mahi under the Digital Security Act over a live Facebook post and arrested her from the Dhaka airport immediately after she returned from Saudi Arabia.

Rights activists and noted people have termed this incident as the latest example of abuse of the law.

They said police are employees of the republic. Any aggrieved citizen can express and can bring about allegations against them. There could be investigation if there wais any allegation against police. The concerned police official could file defamation suit too if the allegations are found to be false. But without following any of this, a case was filed against Mahiya Mahi under the Digital Security Act.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, lawyer and rights activist Sara Hossain said, “There should not even be a criminal case against Mahiya Mahi. A civil suit could have been filed against her if she had defamed any person. None can behave with her this way even if she was not pregnant. She was not fleeing the country.”

She further said, “Mahi’s allegation was against a police official. Following this the speed at which everything happened, it seems the law is not being implemented against all equally.”

Sara Hossain also remarked that the case against Mahi should be withdrawn and an investigation into what happened with her is necessary.

Actress Mahiya Mahi in a Facebook Live on Friday alleged that her husband Rakib Sarker’s car showroom in Gazipur was vandalised over a land dispute. She also brought an allegation against the commissioner of Gazipur Metropolitan Police (GMP).

On the next day, police filed a case against Mahiya Mahi and her husband under the Digital Security Act. The case statement said that Mahi and her husband defamed the law enforcement by spreading false, concocted, aggressive, and defaming information and tried to deteriorate the law and order situation.

Gazipur Metropolitan Police arrested Mahiya Mahi, who is nine months pregnant, as soon as she returned home performing Umrah in Saudi Arabia on Saturday morning. Police also asked for her remand producing her before the court. But the court denied the plea and sent her to jail. Later, the court granted her bail. Though Mahi’s husband Rakib Sarker also is an accused in the case, police did not arrest him when he returned to the country on Sunday.

Upon getting bail on Saturday night, Mahi in a press conference said, the way police took steps to arrest her, it seemed she was a “war criminal”, or a guilty of sedition.

In the press conference, Mahi further said, “I spoke against only one person, whose name is Molla Nazrul. I did not go against the entire police administration.”

Netizens have been saying over social media that a case was filed against Mahiya Mahi under Digital Security Act and she was arrested from the airport immediately after returning home from Saudi Arabia as she raised bribery allegations against a police official. Yet in another incident, Rabiul Islam alias Arav Khan, accused in the murder of a police inspector, could not be arrested even though he came to Bangladesh twice from Dubai.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Asif Nazrul, professor of law department at Dhaka University, said this arrest of a pregnant woman transpires the message that law is not being implemented fairly in the country, though women, ailing and children get priority in getting bail even in non-bailable cases.

He further said the what happened with Mahiya Mahi clarifies the reasons why this Digital Security Act has to be repealed and how dangerous this law can be.