Multiple ‘motivated’ DSA cases against journalist Mizanur Sohel: Family

Publish: 8:47 PM, April 28, 2022 | Update: 8:47 PM, April 28, 2022

Analysing the 150 DSA cases published in the media, it was found that only 18% of such cases were filed due to actual cybercrime
A total of six cases, including four under the Digital Security Act, have been filed against Mizanur Rahman Sohel, a journalist of Daily Jugantor and leader of the Bangladesh ICT Journalist Forum (BIJF).

After his arrest on 10 October last year, cases were filed against him under the DSA almost every month till February this year.

His wife was also named in a case filed at Kafrul police station on 14 February.
Apart from Mizan Sohel, the recent arrest of journalist Jahrul Haque in Satkhira and journalist Azhar Mahmud in Rangpur under the DSA sparked harsh criticism.

On Thursday ( 24 February), the media organisation Society for Media and Suitable Human Communication Techniques (SoMaSHTe) published a survey report showcasing how the DSA is being misused.

Analysing 150 DSA cases published in the media, it was found that only 18% of such cases were filed due to actual cybercrime.

The rest of the cases were not related to digital crimes but mostly due to the wrongful application of the law.

Of the 553 DSA cases, one-third have been filed against journalists, the survey results highlighted.

Recently, Law Minister Anisul Huq himself admitted that the DSA is being misapplied in some cases.

The minister also said that police have been instructed not to arrest journalists under this law until the charge sheet is finalised.

Mizan served as an independent director in an online-based air ticket company “24 Ticket” where he had no executive responsibilities.

In 2020-21, the government suspended domestic and international flights for the Covid-19 Pandemic in two phases. As a result, the company fell into a financial crisis during the lockdown in April 2021.

After the incident, the chairman, managing director and other directors of the company went into hiding.

Mizan Sohel had filed a general diary at Kafrul police station on 23 May last year against the fugitive officials of the company. After that, he filed a case on the matter on 1 June failing to get any response from the officials despite sending legal notices. The case is still under investigation by the PBI.

Meanwhile, on 25 May 2021, the first case was registered in Kafrul police station against all the five directors of that company.

Mizan was arrested and sent to jail on 10 October that year after a case was filed under the Digital Security Act at Uttara West Police Station on 3 October.

While in jail, three more DSA cases were filed against him – with Kafrul Police Station on 24 November, Paltan Model Police Station on 10 January and again with Kafrul Police Station on 14 February.

In other cases, only the names of the directors were mentioned, but in the last case filed, the names of the directors’ wives and parents were also added to dockets.

Sumaiya Sima, wife of journalist Mizan Sohel, said, “One DSA case after another is being filed against my husband every month to harass him.”

She expressed concern that there may be new digital cases filed next March as well.

She also noted that these cases are being filed against Mizan with ill intentions as he might have become the target of a vested quarter while working as the Head of Online at Jugantar.

Mizan Sohel’s lawyer Md Zakir Hossain said, “There is no clear allegation against my client in any case statement. All cases are ‘copy and paste’ of almost the same case. The names of witnesses in multiple cases are common. In some instances, the plaintiff in one case is a witness in another case. It is clear that an organized group is suing Mizan to harass him.”