Bangla Tribune's Kurigram district correspondent Ariful Islam has been detained in an anti-narcotics drive and sentenced to one year's imprisonment by a mobile court. The magistrate conducting the drive, Rintu Bikash Chakma, alleged that Ariful Islam had been in possession of narcotic substances at the time of arrest. Ariful Islam's wife Mostarima Sardar, however, said, "The door was broken open in the middle of the night, Arif was beaten up and then forcefully taken away. They didn't find any drugs."
The Kurigram deputy commissioner and the director of the district narcotics control office have made contradictory statements as to whether the 'anti-narcotics drive' was carried out by the Kurigram administration or the Kurigram district narcotics control office.
After being picked up from his home in Chuapara of Kurigram town on Friday midnight, Arif was sentenced and sent to jail.
The public administration ministry is looking into the matter of the mobile court's action against the journalist. The Rangpur division additional commissioner has arrived in Kurigram. He is to submit a report within Sunday.
Executive magistrate Rintu Bikash Chakma has said that a taskforce comprising the police, Ansar and the narcotics control directorate carried out the raid based on specific allegations. He said that Ariful Islam Regan was detained in possession of narcotic substances. He admitted his guilt in presence of the mobile court, the magistrate said, and was then sentenced to one year imprisonment and Tk 50,000 fine.
Arif's wife Mostarima said that the Kurigram deputy commissioner Sultana Parveen had a pond excavated in her own name and Ariful had reported about this. He had also posted a comment against the district administration on Facebook regarding irregularities in certain appointments. That spelt disaster for him, Mostarima said.
The deputy commissioner denied these allegations and told Prothom Alo, "No pond has been named after me. Ariful made such a report about a year ago and later even apologised to me. That is not an issue."
She said, "The task force went on a drive as usual. Following the requirements of the narcotics control office, the task force was formed with one of my magistrates, a few policemen, five of the Ansar battalion and three of the narcotics office. They had a written complaint and carried out the raid accordingly. It was the narcotics office that requested a magistrate from us."
However, assistant director of the Kurigram narcotics control directorate's district office, Abu Zafar, told Prothom Alo that he wasn't in the area. On Saturday afternoon inspector Zahid told him that the district administration had taken him on their operation at night.
When the deputy commissioner was informed about Abu Zafar's statement, she said, "It was the narcotics office that contacted us after which the magistrate and district administration officers said they could go. And I wasn't even here then. I was in Roumari."
State minister for public administration, Farhad Hossain, speaking to Prothom Alo, said that they had asked the Rangpur division commissioner to look into the matter. They would take action as soon as they received the details within a day or two.
The door was broken open in the middle of the night, Arif was beaten up and then forcefully taken away. They didn't find any drugs
Cabinet secretary Khandakar Anwarul Islam also said that the divisional commissioner was investigating the matter and that an additional commissioner has been sent to the spot.
Describing the night's happenings, Arif's wife said, on Friday midnight as they were preparing to sleep, there was a loud knocking on the door. They asked who it was, but no one replied. Arif tried calling the police, but the door was broken down and seven or eight persons entered. Three of them grabbed Ariful and beat him up. "They almost hit me too," she said, "and used abusive language. One of them said to Arif, 'you are bothering us too much.'"
Mostarima said they were called to the deputy commissioner's office in Saturday where the assistant commissioner Nazimuddin warned them against getting into any confrontation. Nazimuddin, when speaking to Prothom Alo, denied many any such comments.
Chief reporter of Bangla Tribune Udisa Islam said that they had informed the law minister and the concerned authorities about the matter. They would take legal steps for Ariful Islam, she said.