“‘You will be put in crossfire. Your time is up. Recite the kalima.’ I thought they were taking me somewhere to kill me. I broke down in tears.”
These were the words of journalist Ariful Islam as he described being held and tortured by Senior Assistant Commissioner Nazim Uddin of Kurigram.
This correspondent called Nazim around 9:15pm when the official said he was with the DC and said he should be contacted later. He did not answer the phone despite repeated attempts an hour later.
Ariful said he was picked up by Nazim and two magistrates from his home late Friday night.
The incident was widely reported in the media and the authorities yesterday decided to withdraw Kurigram Deputy Commissioner Sultana Pervin, who, according to Ariful, ordered the action taken against him.
However, no action was taken against Nazim and the two magistrates as of last night. Contacted, Public Administration Secretary Shaikh Yusuf Harun told The Daily Star, “She [the DC] will be withdrawn. But we need some time. We need to follow some formalities .”
Ariful, a correspondent Bangla Tribune, was released on bail yesterday morning. He narrated the grueling hours of torture to his fellow reporters at Kurigram General Hospital, where he is being treated.
“So, you are a journalist! We will teach you what journalism is. You dared to write against our DC [deputy commissioner],” Ariful quoted Nazim as saying.
Accompanied by police and Ansar men, Nazim and the two magistrates broke into Ariful’s house, beat him up, blindfolded him and then dragged him into a vehicle. A mobile court then jailed him for a year on charges of possessing drugs.
Ariful said he was about to go to bed when the officials entered his home. Nazim started hitting him and swearing at him.
At one point, he asked others to blindfold Ariful and tie his hands before taking him to the vehicle.
“I was crying and begging for life… Then I told them that my father died and I have my two young children… But they kept beating me up.”
After the vehicle drove for a while, Nazim again threatened to kill him.
“I started praying to the almighty,” Ariful said, adding that Nazim then asked someone to call the DC.
“After a brief conversation, they took me somewhere. Nazim asked someone to take me upstairs. My hands were still tied. I could see through the blindfold and saw that it was the DC office.”
He said he was beaten up again at the DC office. Some kicked him while others swore at him.
And then one of them stripped him and started filming him.
“I repeatedly wanted to know my fault. I even told them that if I made a mistake, I would apologise to the DC.”
They later gave him the clothes of a DC office employee and took him to the local prison.
Nazim asked the jail authorities not to let anyone meet him in the jail for a month and said he should not be provided with any treatment, Ariful alleged.
“I am suffering from pain due to the torture.”
Orthopaedic Senior Consultant Uttam Kumar Roy of Kurigram General hospital said there were multiple injury marks on Ariful’s body.