DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — A Bangladesh court allowed police on Monday to hold a journalist for a pro-opposition newspaper for two days of questioning and ordered that two of his supervisors be detained temporarily over a story alleging that Indian security forces joined Bangladeshi troops in a crackdown before recent elections.
Information Minister Hasanul Huq Inu has said the report is baseless, and the journalists face possible charges of publishing a false report.
Police had asked to hold all three journalists for the Inqilab newspaper for five days of questioning. Magistrate S.M. Ashiqur Rahman on Monday approved two days of questioning of Ahmed Atique, who wrote the story, but ruled that his two supervisors be held temporarily in jail, not police custody, pending further legal action. They face charges of violating the country’s Information Communication and Technology Act.
The journalists were arrested Thursday after the daily published the report in its print and online edition saying that Indian security forces joined Bangladeshi officials during a crackdown on people suspected of launching attacks in the southwestern district of Satkhira ahead of the Jan. 5 election. Satkhira, which borders India, is a stronghold of the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami, a key partner of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which boycotted the election.
The government said it did not stop the publication of the newspaper, but sealed off the press temporarily. The daily, which continues its online edition, has apologized for publishing the report that led to the reporters’ arrests.
Authorities said the report was based on rumors and part of propaganda against the government, as the issue of Bangladesh’s relationship with India is sensitive.
The newspaper has no major influence but is known as pro-opposition. The daily has earlier been accused of publishing fabricated reports, and has a history of backing Islamist hardline groups in Muslim-majority Bangladesh.