Police have arrested a reporter for what the authorities said was spiriting away “important” documents from a government office and taking photos of the papers at the Secretariat in Dhaka.
Officials handed Rozina Islam, a senior correspondent of the daily Prothom Alo, to Shahbagh police on Monday evening after confining her for more than five hours to the room of Md Saiful Islam Bhuiyan, an aide to Health Services Secretary Lokman Hossain Miah.
In a late-night development, Rozina was sued under the Penal Code and Official Secrets Act for the “theft” and “photographing” of documents.
Rozina denies any wrongdoing, while her newspaper suspects she is framed for reporting corruption in the health sector amid the COVID-19 crisis, reports bdnews24.com.
Harun-or-Rashid, an additional deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, said Rozina would be taken to the court on Tuesday morning.
DRAMA AT SECRETARIAT
As Rozina was waiting in Saiful’s room to speak to him, the police were called in and she was confined around 3 pm, she told bdnews24.com. Around half a dozen policewomen guarded her in the room, while some police officers waited outside.
Rozina said she was frisked and a policeman identified only as Mizan “harassed” her. “I did not take any document from the office,” she said.
After Rozina fell sick around 6:30 pm, other reporters at the Secretariat demanded her transfer to a hospital, but the authorities did not relent.
Police vehicles entered the Secretariat around 8:15 pm to lead her away. Rozina was moved into a white vehicle and driven to the Shahbagh Police Station. The police did not explain why they detained her.
The journalists repeatedly tried to talk to the health secretary, but he declined to comment on Rozina’s detention.
Md Maidul Islam Prodhan, a spokesman for the health ministry, told reporters later that Rozina took photos of “important” documents.
“She was also taking away some documents. An additional secretary and a policeman challenged her at the time. Later, the policewomen were called in. She was then taken to the police station.”
Rozina’s younger sister Sabina Parvin Sumi provided some details shedding light on what happened inside the Secretariat room.
“She got some documents from a source. Then she told Constable Mizan that she wanted to meet the health secretary. He [Mizan] asked her to wait inside saying that no one was there,” Sabina said.
Rozina refused to sit inside, but Mizan insisted that she must wait inside, according to her sister.
“Sometime later Constable Mizan and two to three others snatched her bag. They threatened to bury her alive because of her negative reporting on the health sector.”
Sabina alleged Rozina was “harassed for performing her professional duty”.
The sister suspects the officials might have slipped some documents into Rozina’s bag after snatching it.