Bangladesh: Journalist arrested for allegedly publishing false information on national poll results
While Hedait Hossain Molla of Dhaka Tribune has been sent on three-day remand, Manab Zamin’s reporter Rashidul Islam is said to be on the run.
The Bangladesh Police on Tuesday arrested a journalist for allegedly publishing “false information” about irregularities in Khulna constituency during the recently-held general elections in the country, The Daily Star reported. An alliance led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League won more than 90% of parliamentary seats in the elections.
Polling in the 11th general elections was held on Sunday for 299 of the 300 parliamentary seats. Dozens of candidates had pulled out on the polling day, claiming rigging by the ruling party. Opposition parties in Bangladesh have rejected the poll results, alleging widespread rigging and voter intimidation.
According to reports, the number of votes cast in Khulna-1 was higher than the total number of voters in the constituency. However, an election officer had later said it was a mistake and a correction was issued. In the meantime, two media organisations had carried reports that said the number of votes cast was 22,000 more than the actual number of voters, The Daily Star reported.
Batiaghata Upazila Nirbahi Officer Debashish Chowdhury filed a case under the Digital Security Act against Dhaka Tribune reporter Hedait Hossain Molla and Manab Zamin’s Rashidul Islam for the media reports. While Molla was arrested on Tuesday, Islam is said to be absconding.
According to the complaint, the accused had published false and fabricated information on the voting process, with the use of electronic devices, “which might confuse people and create a chaotic situation”. “This is false information that was made intentionally to make the election result look questionable and controversial,” Reuters quoted from a police report.
Molla has been placed on a three-day remand, the Dhaka Tribune reported.
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom, European Union and the United States have called for investigation into the alleged election irregularities and condemned the violence that took place on the election day in Bangladesh. At least 17 people were killed in the unrest.
The United States expressed concern over the “credible reports of harassment, intimidation, and violence” before the elections that made it difficult for several opposition candidates to hold rallies and meet their supporters.