Prothom Alo senior reporter Rozina Islam has vowed to work with same determination as before to expose corruption and uncover the truth, even though she has been harassed, tortured and framed in a 98-year-old colonial law for only reporting on corruption in the health ministry.
Speaking to the media soon after walking out of the Kashimpur central jail on Sunday afternoon, six days after she had been arrested, she said, "I am being treated unfairly...I am being wronged for reporting on the health ministry."
Asked if she would continue journalism even after this harassment, Rozina said, "Why not? I will definitely do journalism."
She also expressed her gratitude to all including fellow journalists for standing by her and becoming vocal for her release after she was confined at the health ministry and later handed over to police on Monday.
Keep reading- Rozina Islam vows to keep working as journalist
Rozina's husband Monirul Islam Mithu told journalists that at present their first priority is Rozina's health condition.
"We will think about whether we will file any case against those who tortured her and kept her confined for more than five hours in the secretariat, when she is okay," he added.
Meanwhile, the Detective Branch (DB) of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) has sought the court's approval to conduct forensic test on two confiscated mobile phones of Rozina Islam who has been made accused in a case filed under the Penal Code and the Official Secrets Act 1923.
Lawyer Prashant Kumar Karmakar confirmed this news to The Business Standard and said the police have filed a petition in this regard but the court is yet to grant the plea.
Metropolitan Magistrate Mohammad Baki Billah on Sunday morning granted Rozina Islam bail on a bond of Tk5,000.
The court also asked Rozina to submit her passport to prevent her from travelling abroad.
The court urged all parties involved to come together for the greater good of the state keeping aside all disputes.
During Sunday's hearing, the court said the media is one of the parts of democracy and that other institutions behave responsibly because of the media.
The judiciary and the media act as complementary to each other, not a barrier.
During the hearing, Chief Public Prosecutor Abdullah Abu told the court the case is very sensitive and if the accused surrenders her passport to the court, then the prosecution will have no objection to granting her a bail.
Rozina Islam's counsel Ehsanul Haque Shomaji said, "We have no objection to the conditions brought by the prosecution."
Hearing both parties, the court then granted bail on the condition of surrendering her passport.
The court also observed that the media is a powerful tool and all must behave responsibly.
After the bail hearing, public prosecutor Abdullah Abu told reporters that information and evidence related to the case had been submitted to the court. He, however, didn't disclose what sort of information had been provided.
After the court granted Rozina bail until 15 July, Prothom Alo Associate Editor and writer Anisul Hoque called for withdrawing the case filed against Rozina Islam.
Talking to the media on the court premises, Anisul Hoque said, "It is a matter of joy that Rozina has got bail. Prothom Alo always respects the law. We never lose confidence in the court. The case against Rozina will be faced legally," he added.
Addressing the media, he further said the solidarity of journalists from print, online and electronic media on the demand for the release of Rozina was unprecedented.
"Journalists and journalist unions organised protests in unison. No one backtracked from the movement," he pointed out and expressed gratitude to everyone on behalf of Prothom Alo.
Meantime, Rozina has been taken to Square Hospital in the capital.
She will be treated there as her physical condition is not good. She will be kept in isolation after giving a sample for Covid-19 test.
She was already suffering from a number of ailments including high blood pressure and diabetic.
Investigative journalist Rozina, known for dozens of ground-breaking reports in her career, was kept confined at the health ministry for more than six hours on 17 May on allegations of taking snapshots of some government documents. Later she was handed over to the police.
She was shown arrested in the case on charges of spiriting away "important" documents on the same night.
Police produced her before the court the following day seeking a 5-day remand. Rejecting the remand plea, Metropolitan Magistrate Baki Billah fixed 20 May for hearing on Rozina's bail plea.
On that day, Rozina was sent to jail following a court order.
The hearing on the bail petition of Rozina was held last Thursday. Lawyers from both sides virtually took part in the nearly hour-long hearing. However, the court did not give any immediate decision on that day. The court fixed Sunday for order on her bail plea.
US ambassador expresses satisfaction
Terming Rozina's release as good news, US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller said, "I want to mention today a good news. The issue regarding a local journalist's bail hearing that I am following very closely as well as the Washington DC.
"Because we actually remembered that the economic and development progress goes hand to hand with democratic progress, something we should highlight as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of independent Bangladesh and remarkable progress of the last five decades."
He was speaking as the "Guest of Honour" in a virtual event titled "US-Bangladesh Economic Relation: Migration to a developing nation" organised by American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh.
''Journalists should be free to pursue the truth without fear of censorship, harassment, or arrest as they perform their indispensable public service. They protect and serve us all. They deserve our admiration and support. We are in their debt," he added.
The US ambassador said, "Journalists and an unfettered press help us learn the truth, sometimes unpleasant and disagreeable, about our elected leaders, our government and ourselves. That makes our societies better. It makes us stronger".
"A free press gives voice to the voiceless, exposes injustice and corruption, and holds leaders and those in power accountable. Free and open societies have an obligation to protect a free press," he added.
Health minister's resignation demanded
Journalists on Sunday demanded the resignation of the health minister, as part of their protest against harassment on Prothom Alo journalist Rozina Islam by the ministry's official in the secretariat.
Their demands also include withdrawal of the case filed against Rozina within 48 hours.
They also demanded an unconditional apology to Rozina Islam, the resignation of the health secretary, the arrest of corrupt people in the health ministry and a judicial inquiry.
The demands were made at a rally organised by the Bangla Town Journalists Foundation in front of the National Press Club on Sunday morning.
Shawkat Mahmud, former president of the National Press Club; Mahmudur Rahman Manna, convener of the Nagorik Oikko; and Nurul Haque Nur, former vice president of Ducsu, among others, addressed the programme.