The fight for justice seems to be still far from over for Shipra Rani Debnath – the university student who had accompanied slain Major (retd) Sinha Mohammad Rashed Khan for making travel documentaries.
Even after getting entangled in a murder case involving several policemen as accused, things took a turn for the worse as a certain quarter started leaking her personal photos collected from her electronic devices on the social media. The police had confiscated the devices earlier.
Despite her seemingly endless ordeal of being victimised, the Cox's Bazar Sadar Police Station on Tuesday night refused to record Shipra's case under the Digital Security Act 2018 against 150 people, including Satkhira Superintendent of Police (SP) Mostafijur Rahman and SP Mizanur Rahman Shelley of the Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI).
Citing their lack of jurisdiction, the police told her to go to the Ramu Police Station to file her case. On her way to Ramu with her lawyer on Wednesday morning, Shipra learned about a writ filed in the High Court against defaming her on social media.
As the court is scheduled to hold a hearing on the writ on Thursday, Shipra decided to turn back from Ramu and wait until the High Court order before filing the case, her lawyer Mahbubul Alam Tipu told the media.
Shipra, in a video message on Monday, announced that she would file a case under the Digital Security Act against the police officers, who reportedly posted her personal photos on Facebook.
In the video message, Shipra said, "Police took two monitors, a laptop, a desktop, a camera, lenses, three hard disk drives and our phones from our cottage on the night of Major Sinha's killing.
"But there is no mention of any of them in the seizure list. I do not know who I will ask to return those things to us."
She continued, "Some police officers are responsible for stealing photos from our personal devices, and sharing those on social media. Fake Facebook and Instagram IDs have been opened in my name.
"I promise to take appropriate action under the Digital Security Act against each of those who have made my personal life unbearable by making various videos and photo-shopped images."
Adding that there are many honest officers, Shipra said, "But if such murderous officers and some mentally ill policemen, who misrepresent a woman on the social media, are not identified and brought to justice, the responsibility for this scandal will fall on the entire force."
Commenting on the matter, Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua – also a human rights activist – told The Business Standard, "According to the Digital Security Act 2018, anyone can file a case anywhere in Bangladesh.
"In Shipra's case, it is not mandatory under the act to file a case exactly where the crime took place. Her personal photos had been spread on social media, so the Cox's Bazar Sadar Model Police Station should have let her file the case. It was an unlawful act by the Cox's Bazar Model Police Station."
According to Shipra's lawyer Mahbubul Alam Tipu, Officer-in-Charge (OC) Md Khairuzzaman of the Cox's Bazar Police Station had advised them to file the case with the Ramu Police Station or a special tribunal instead.
The lawyer further said, "The OC told us that the place of the incident was not under the jurisdiction of Cox's Bazar Sadar Police Station. So, the case could not be filed with the police station.
"The OC also said if the electronic devices were lost in Ramu, Shipra could go to Ramu Police Station and file a case there; or if the aggrieved person wants, the case could be filed with a special tribunal."
In response, Shipra told the OC that she had been living at Jaltaranga resort in the beach area since she was granted bail in a police case, and the area was under Cox's Bazar Sadar Police Station.
That was why she had come to the police station to file the case, she explained. But the police still refused to accept the case, said Lawyer Mahbubul.
Responding to a query, OC Md Khairuzzaman said, "The crime did not take place at a place that is under our jurisdiction, and that is why I did not allow filing of the case."
When asked whether he is aware of the Digital Security Act, the OC said, "I am well aware of the Digital Security Act, and that is why I did not take her case."
The High Court writ
On August 16, Barrister Manoj Kumar Bhowmik filed a writ petition as a public interest litigation, seeking a High Court order on the government authorities concerned to take proper action against police officers responsible for posting the photographs on Facebook and for a probe body.
The bench of Justice JBM Hassan and Justice Md Khairul Alam fixed Thursday for delivering an order on the writ petition that challenged two police officers for posting personal photographs of Shipra Debnath along with provocative comments on Facebook.
The bench set the date for passing the order after a virtual hearing on Wednesday.