DHAKA: A Dhaka court yesterday framed charges against four bloggers for making “derogatory comments about Islam” on social media.
The trial of the two cases against them will begin on November 6.
The four bloggers, who are now on bail, pleaded not guilty and demanded justice.
If convicted in the Dhaka Metropolitan Sessions Judge’s Court, each of them will face 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Tk 1 crore, under the Information and Communications Technology Act, 2006.
The cabinet, however, had approved the draft ICT (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013, proposing that the maximum jail term for an offence covered by the law be increased to 14 years.
The four are Subrata Adhikari Shuvo, 24, a master’s student at Dhaka University; Russel Parvez, 36, a teacher at an English medium school; Mashiur Rahman Biplob, 42, a resident of the capital’s Pallabi area, and Asif Mohiuddin, 28, an ex-student of a private university.
Shuvo, Parvez and Biplob were arrested on April 2, under Section 54 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, in different areas in the capital on suspicion of making derogatory comments about Islam.
Police later filed a general diary against the trio for uploading “contents insulting to Islam” on social media platforms.
Asif was arrested on April 3 at an Uttara hospital where he had been undergoing treatment for fatal stab injuries he had sustained in an attack on January 14.
The arrests coincided with a countrywide hate campaign by so-called Islamist groups who alleged that “atheist bloggers” were behind the Shahbagh movement that demanded death penalty to war criminals.
There was fierce criticism on social networking sites, with many users observing that the government had made the arrests in fear of angry reactions from the Islamist groups.
After investigations into the cases, the Detective Branch of police pressed charges against the four on April 17, accusing them of hurting religious sentiments by the contents posted on Facebook and different blogs. The court accepted the charges on June 2.