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  HOME | World (Click here for more)

Detained Bangladeshi Writer Dies in Jail

DHAKA – A Bangladeshi writer detained under a controversial cyberlaw for allegedly spreading rumors on social media died in jail on Thursday, authorities said.

The superintendent of central Kashimpur High-Security Jail, Gias Uddin, told EFE that writer Mushtaq Ahmed was declared dead about 8:20 pm local time after he was taken to nearby Shaheed Tajuddin Ahmad Medical College Hospital in Gazipur city.

“He fell unconscious (at) about 7:10 am in jail. We took him to Tajuddin Ahmad hospital, where he was declared dead. We were not aware (that he had) any kind of illness,” said Uddin.

The on-duty medical officer of the hospital, Mohammad Sharif Hossain, said Ahmed, popularly known by his first name Mushtaq, was already dead when he arrived at the hospital.

“We are waiting to conduct his post-mortem. Until the process was completed, we cannot confirm any reason behind his death,” Hossain told EFE.

Mushtaq was arrested on May 6, 2020, along with cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore.

The duo was later charged under Digital Security Act for spreading rumors on social media and tarnishing the image of the country’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and hurting the spirit of the liberation war.

Both of them were denied bail several times.

Mushtaq made his fame as a crocodile farmer before becoming a writer with his book “Crocodile Farmer’s Diary” earning widespread acclaim.

Rights activists had criticized the arrests of Mushtaq and cartoonist Kishore, who is still in jail, under the DSA as “an attempt to suppress the criticism of the government.”

The DSA was approved in the Bangladesh Parliament on Sept. 19, 2018, and came into effect just three months before a general election in which the ruling Awami League and its allies held onto power for a third consecutive term.

The law, severely criticized by press guilds and rights groups since its inception, has also been used in cases of alleged blasphemy online and linked with enforced disappearances carried out by authorities.

Rights group Amnesty International said more than 1,000 cases have been filed for various allegations under this act since it was implemented.

 

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