Expressing an opinion is not a crime
“I don’t believe that expressing an opinion can be considered a crime. I still believe in free speech.”
Jhumon Das is steadfast in his beliefs even after six months of imprisonment without trial.
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His detention and the time spent in prison, however, had many turns of events.
Jhumon, 25, from Naogaon village in Sunamganj upazila Shalla, was arrested by police on March 16 for criticizing Hefajat-e-Islam leader Mamunul Haque and remained in prison until Tuesday evening.
He was first shown arrested under article 54 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. “But I was shocked to learn that a police sub-inspector [on March 22] filed a complaint against me under the Digital Security Act. “
“I have full confidence in Bangladesh as a non-sectarian state. But when a cop complained against me, it became a state case against me.
“I believe that the opinions of an individual, be it a cop, do not represent the state and my writings have not offended the secular nature of Bangladesh,” he told the Daily Star.
Since his arrest, the Sunamganj court has rejected his bail application four times, while the High Court has rejected him once.
Finally, on September 23, a High Court bench granted him a one-year bond.
Commenting on the way the case unfolded, he said: “After criticizing Mamunul Haque for his slanderous speech on the sculpture of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tour of Bangladesh, I realized that my Facebook post was agitating Hefajat supporters.
“I also found out that a huge crowd was gathering to attack our village and several fake accounts were created with my name, displaying fake statuses to agitate more people. My friends suggested that I go to the police to appease the situation. So, I called the police and I surrendered. I was first taken to Shalla police station and the next day I was transferred to Sunamganj prison. There, I was taken to Shalla police station. I heard that my village had been attacked. Then when I appeared in court, I learned that there was a case filed under the DSA against me.
Several hundred Hefajat-e-Islam supporters from neighboring villages attacked the village of Noagaon the day Jhumon was sent to prison. They vandalized around 90 Hindu homes, including that of Jhumon, and four temples.
“Many accused assailants were also arrested and sent to the same prison as me. They started taunting me and saying that I hurt religious sentiment by criticizing Mamunul Haque. This created a threat to my safety in prison. , the prison super controlled the situation and ensured my safety.
“What hurt a lot was not being able to see my son, who was born just a few months before my arrest,” he said, adding that he was very grateful to all who supported her family in her absence and helped secure her bail.
“For about 10 years, I worked for many companies as a salesperson in different neighborhoods. Recently, with the support of a cousin, I started a small business. Now, as the High Court ordered me not to leave the neighborhood, I have no idea what to do with a living. “
Regarding his safety, he said, “After my release, I met the police commissioner from Sunamganj, who assured me of my safety. my village. I understand the concern for safety, but how can you start a new life while still maintaining all of this? I live in constant fear.
Regarding freedom of expression, he said: “I have been using Facebook since 2013 and mainly express my opinions regarding the war of liberation, independence. I believe Bangabandhu built a secular country and I have never published anything anti-religion or anti-state. “
“My Facebook post criticized Mamunul Haque as an individual who threatened the secular nature of the country by insulting the Father of the Nation and the Prime Minister of our neighboring country.”