Cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore has finally secured bail days after his co-accused writer Mushtaq Ahmed's death in custody sparked countrywide protests against the Digital Security Act under which they were detained for ten months.
The High Court bench of Justice M Enayetur Rahim and Justice Md Mustafizur Rahman on Wednesday granted bail to Kishore for six months, considering the long time he languished in jail in the case.
Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua, who stood for the cartoonist, said as there is no other case against him, Kishore will be released soon after the bail order reaches the jail.
"The process will be completed in two-three days," he said.
In the bail order, the court said Kishore was granted bail as he had been in jail for a long time and Didarul Bhuiyan and former Dhaka Stock Exchange director Minhaj Mannan had earlier secured bail after their arrest in the same case.
Deputy Attorney General Sarwar Hossain Bappi, who stood for the state and opposed the bail at the hearing, told journalists that further investigation into the case is underway and its report is due on 15 March.
Asked about their next course of action, he said, "The decision on whether to appeal to the Appellate Division against the bail order will be taken after talking to the superior authorities."
Along with Kishore, writer Mushtaq Ahmed – who was in jail in the same case – sought bail on 23 February. Two days later, Mushtaq died at the Kashimpur jail in Gazipur.
Both had been rejected bail six times by a lower court before they filed petitions with the High Court.
On 5 May 2020, the Rapid Action Battalion filed the case against 11 people on charges of spreading falsehoods from a Facebook page, tarnishing the image of Bangladesh and creating confusion.
On 13 January, investigation officer Mohsin Sardar of Ramna Police Station submitted the charge sheet to the Dhaka Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court.
The charge sheet named three persons – cartoonist Kishore, writer Mushtaq and Didarul Bhuiyan, the coordinator of Rashtrachinta, a network of political activists – as accused and dropped charges against eight others.
The names excluded from the charge sheet are Minhaj Mannan, Tasnim Khalil, Sahed Alam, Asif Mohiuddin, Sami, Ashik Imran, Swapan Wahid, and Philip Shumakher.
After the death of Mushtaq in custody, protests erupted across the country, demanding abolition of the Digital Security Act.