Even though his head and face were covered by a disposable stretchable cap and a mask, he tried to hide his eyes – the only visible part of his face – with his left hand as photojournalists were taking pictures. He had cannulas stripped on the hand, and there were visible scars on both hands. The weak man was stumbling as he approached.
Cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore hid his face as he was crying in his first public appearance since the bail on 3 March.
On Wednesday, a week after his release, he appeared before a Dhaka court to file a case over "custodial torture" he endured.
His lawyer Jyotirmoy Barua, elder brother Ahsan Kabir and other family members escorted him to Dhaka Senior Special Judges' Court. He there narrated the "69-hour pre-arrest torture" to judge KM Imrul Kayes.
On 5 May last year, Kishore was shown arrested in a case filed under the Digital Security Act (DSA) with Ramna police. But three days earlier on 2 May, Kishore said, 16 to 17 people in plain clothes handcuffed him at his Dhaka residence, covered his head with a hood and forced him out of his home before taking him to an unknown and secluded place.
In these three days to May 4, the cartoonist said he went through horrific torture.
While describing his ordeals before the court, Kishore broke in tears. He also showed the court the wounds and scars on his body.
He filed the complaint under the Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention) Act, 2013 accusing unidentified individuals, said Kishore's lawyer Jyotirmoy Barua.
The anti-torture law provides a minimum punishment not less than five years and maximum life term imprisonment with a fine for crimes committed under it.
The judge recorded the statement of the plaintiff and said he would give an order soon, said Jyotirmoy Barua.
Description of horrific torture
Kishore told the court he was picked by 16-17 people in plainclothes on the afternoon of 2 May 2000, and blindfolded before being taken to a damp room. The people also seized Kishore's cell-phone and other digital devices from the residence.
At the secluded place, Kishore said the people showed him the cartons he drew and asked what he meant by the drawings. Kishore was repeatedly asked who are the people those caricatures represent.
One of the interrogators suddenly smacked on his ears. Kishore said he was dazed for a few minutes subsequently, and later realised blood was dripping down from his ears. The cartoonist lost his consciousness as the abductors started hitting his legs with steel-plated sticks.
On 5 May, Kishore discovered him at the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) office and also noticed writer Mushtaq Ahmed there, three days after he was whisked up.
Kishore's DSA case hearing continues
Earlier on Wednesday, Kishore, online activist Didarul Islam Bhuiyan and a financial institution Managing Director Minhaj Mannan Emon appeared before a Dhaka court for the hearing of the DSA case filed against them.
Like Kishore, Didarul and Minhaj are now on bail in the case while another accused writer Mushtaq Ahmed died on 25 February in Gazipur jail. In the case, 11 people, including Kishore, Mushtaq and Didarul have been accused of tarnishing the country's image by spreading distorted history on social media.
During the Wednesday hearing, Md Afchhar Ahmed, a sub-inspector of police's Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit and also the investigation officer of the case, appealed for one-day remand for Minhaj.
But, the court turned down the plea as Minhaj has already been excluded from the chargesheet of the case.
Meanwhile, Mushtaq's lawyer submitted a petition seeking the court's permission to take back his mobile phone and computer seized by police during the investigation.
The magistrate directed the investigation office to submit a report within ten days whether the devices would be returned to Mushtaq's family.