Dhaka: Bangladesh police on Thursday arrested the editor of the Bengali daily 'Amar Desh', a pro-opposition newspaper, on charges of sedition and inciting religious tension. Plainclothesmen picked up Mahmudur Rahman in a raid on the newspaper office at Karwan Bazar area and police said he was taken away for initial interrogation.
Police said Rahman had been arrested on the basis of evidence obtained after investigations on various charges including cyber crimes. "We have arrested him in a case filed against him in December," a Dhaka police spokesman said, adding that he was also accused of publishing false and derogatory information that incited religious tension.
The December case against Rahman relates to hacking and publishing of leaked calls between a judge of the 1971 war crimes tribunal and an expatriate jurist, police said. A Dhaka court allowed him to be remanded to police custody for 13 days when he was brought before a magistrate after police interrogation.
59-year-old Rahman's arrest came amid growing demands by non-partisan youngsters, waging a campaign for strict punishment for 1971 war criminals under the banner of Ganajagaran Mancha, for carrying out "misleading propaganda" calling them "atheists". The ruling Awami League leaders accused the daily of inciting violence during recent political unrest prompting the government to launch a virtual crackdown on BNP and arrest nearly a dozen of its top leaders.
"Mahmudur Rahman has hurt Muslim religious sentiments, which is totally unacceptable. He has been arrested to establish the rule of law," state minister for home Shamsul Haque Tuku said. Rahman is a former energy adviser and was investment board chairman during the past BNP-led government.
"He published fabricated comments on Prophet Mohammad to portray us as anti-Islamic and incite religious tension. He himself has defamed Islam and hurt our religious sentiment," Mancha's spokesman Imran H Sarkar said.
But several Islamist groups staged a street protest against his arrest calling him a "courageous and true soldier of Islam". Rahman was also detained last year and was convicted on a contempt of court charge and imprisoned for weeks.