Fifty-one representatives of Nagarik Samaj, a civil society platform, issued a statement on Sunday condemning the police action on peaceful protesters over the custodial death of writer Mushtaq Ahmed.
They placed a five-point demand, including withdrawing cases against Ruhul Amin – a workers' leader in Khulna – and six other students and releasing them, compensating the protesters who sustained injuries in Shahbagh, and bringing to book the police officials – who swooped on the protesters – as per the pertinent United Nations policy.
They also demanded stopping torture in remand in the name of gleaning information from arrestees under the Digital Security Act, abolishing the act, and immediate bail for cartoonist Ahmed Kabir Kishore for his treatment.
Among others, Prof Anu Muhammad of Jahangirnagar University, Executive Director of Manusher Jonno Foundation Shaheen Anam, Chief Executive of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association Syeda Rizwana Hasan, and social activist Khushi Kabir signed the statement.
The Rapid Action Battalion arrested Mushtaq from the capital's Lalmatia on 5 May last year under the Digital Security Act for writing anti-government posts on Facebook.
He fell ill at Kashimpur jail in Gazipur on 25 February and was admitted to hospital where the on-duty doctor declared him dead. He was in jail for 295 days.
The Nagarik Samaj statement described his death as a state assassination.
On 26 February, at least 35 people were injured as activists of left-leaning organisations and student bodies clashed with police during a protest at the Dhaka University area over Mushtaq's death. 20 of them are protesters.
Police arrested seven protesters from processions in Shahbagh area and filed an attempt to murder case against them on Friday midnight.
On the other hand, detective branch police picked up Khulna jute mill workers' leader Ruhul, also the Sramik-Krishak-Chhatra-Janata Oikya Parishad coordinator, after he posted the announcement of a peaceful protest on social media over Mushtaq's death.
On 27 February, a case was filed against Ruhul under the Digital Security Act and the Khulna metropolitan magistrate placed him on a two-day remand.