MAHMUDUR Rahman, acting editor of Bangla daily Amar Desh, has been sued for instigating militancy and fanaticism and spreading false information to create anarchy across the country.
Confirming The Daily Star about filing of the case, Abdul Jalil, officer-in-charge (investigation) at Shahbagh Police Station, said Sub-Inspector Badrul Islam filed the charges.
Amar Desh has been publishing reports and hate materials criticising the Shahbagh movement, which entered its 19th day on Saturday, demanding capital punishment to the war criminals.
The case was filed a day after Jamaat and its student body Islami Chhatra Shibir attacked law enforcers and journalists, burned the national flag and vandalised Shaheed Minars to counter the mass demand for capital punishment to 1971 war criminals.
Demonstrators at Shahbagh’s Projonmo Chattar, who returned to the protest venue immediately after the start of Friday’s mayhem, demanded arrest of Mahmudur Rahman in 24 hours.
Amar Desh and some other newspapers and television channels have been rerunning write-ups insulting Islam and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), claiming that they were published by the Shahbagh activists on blogs and websites.
In a curious coincidence with Jamaat-Shibir’s campaign, the media outlets have also been carrying out series of reports in a bid to portray the Shahbagh activists as atheists and to mobilise public opinion against the movement, saying that anti-social activities were going on at the protest venue.
On Friday, activists of the Jamaat, Shibir and their sympathisers chose mosques as gathering points and launched attacks with handmade bombs, guns and sticks, leaving at least four persons killed and nearly 1,000 people, including 14 journalists, wounded.
In what appears to be the culmination of a cleverly orchestrated smear campaign, the Jamaat and its adherents branded the Shahbagh protesters as atheists, and tried to use Juma prayers to whip up religious sentiments against them.
Gonojagoron Manchas — from where demands are being made for capital punishment to war criminals — became their targets of vandalism in Chittagong, Feni, Chandpur, Rajshahi, Bogra, Sirajganj, Joypurhat, Sylhet, Moulvibazar and Pabna.
They chanted slogans against the organisers of the Shahbagh movement, which has been calling for death penalty for all war criminals and a ban on Jamaat-Shibir politics.
Jamaat and some like-minded radical Islamist parties announced nationwide demonstrations after yesterday’s Juma prayers for punishment to the bloggers.
They torched the national flag in Chandpur and Bogra, and vandalised Shaheed Minars in Feni and Sylhet, and the Awami League office in Kurigram. They attacked law enforcers in other districts, including Jhenidah, Patuakhali, Pabna and Joypurhat.
As the protest gained momentum with thousands of people joining the demonstrators at Shahbagh, Jamaat-Shibir men started smear campaign against frontline activists of the movement.
Days before blogger Ahmed Rajib Haidar’s killing on February 15, anti-Islam blog posts were published in his name, which the Shahbagh protesters rejected as Haidar’s.
As cyber war continued between the two sides, more and more anti-Islam contents were published on different websites targeted at maligning the protesters’ characters, the Shahbagh protesters said.
Some newspapers also published those contents to add further as the debate received more heat.