Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Shawkat Afsar: Victim of state sponsored Shibir-o-phobia narrative in Bangladesh

With the arrest of Shawkat Afsar, the police seem to have tried to create another ‘Joj Mia’ drama, lamented his maternal uncle and Cox’s Bazaar Zila Awami League Science and Technology Affairs Secretary Engineer Badiul Alam.

Arrested for delivering a letter in which he allegedly threatened to bomb and blow up the Egyptian embassy, Shibir has confirmed that Shawkat  Afsar (18) was neither involved with Shibir, nor a student of Focus coaching center.

Last Wednesday, an investigation revealed that Shawkat Afsar’s maternal uncle was the influential Cox’s Bazaar Zila Awami League Science and Technology Affairs Secretary Engineer Badiul Alam. Nasir Uddin, elder brother of the arrestee, said that Shawkat was not involved in any politics. He informed that Shawkat, after passing his higher secondary examinations (HSC), had left for Dhaka Monday night (19th August) from Cox’s Bazar in order to get admitted into a coaching center. 

Shawkat Afsar
His family further informed that he had begun staying at a mess with some of his friends after leaving for Dhaka on Monday night. So, given his inexperience and lack of knowledge regarding roads and areas in Dhaka, his family was bewildered when they enquired as to how he delivered the alleged letter to the Egyptian embassy within Tuesday. His family said that they had come to know that Shawkat had been suddenly arrested by the Detective Branch of police while he was perusing the coaching center area at Farmgate in Dhaka.

Nasir Uddin, Shawkat’s elder brother said that their father late Sultan Ahmed was member of the Eidgah Union at Cox’s Bazaar multiple times and later was even a panel Chairman. Shawkat is the youngest among 6 brothers. His brothers in descending chronological order are Nurul Kabir, Jashim uddin (Saudi expatriate), Shahab Uddin, Ashek Uddin (Saudi expatriate) and Nasir Uddin (an insurance company employee).

Shawkat completed his SSC in 2011 from Eidgah Adorsho Shikkhaniketon securing A+, while he completed his HSC from Cox’s Bazar City College in 2013, securing A grade. His uncle Engineer Badiul Alam said that he had once come to Dhaka earlier before Eid for information regarding medical coaching centres. The AL leader said that his family would contact with the DB authorities regarding Shawkat’s release. They would seek to clarify that Shawkat was simply a meritorious student who was not involved in any politics. Furthermore, both his parents were deceased and there was no one to look after him.
Badiul Alam claimed that the police were trying to create another ‘Joj Mia’ drama with his meritorious nephew. Moreover, he claimed that the letter which had been sent to the Egyptian embassy was signed with the name of “Shawkat Umman”, whilst his nephew was “Shawkat Afsar” .

On the other hand, police have claimed that the arrested Shawkat was an active member of Shibir and that they had arrested him from the premises of Focus coaching center in Dhaka. However, on visiting the Focus coaching at Farmgate and querying the office secretary Nur-e-Alam Kaisar, it was understood that there had been no police raid at their premises and hence there was no question of Shawkat being arrested there. Nur-e-Alam further said that no one named Shawkat Afsar had enrolled at the centre in the past year.   

Bangladesh Islami Chatra Shibir has confirmed that no member or supporter of the organisation named Shawkat Afsar had been arrested. They have further confirmed that the arrested Shawkat Afsar is not their member or activist.

Shawkat Afsar with Anisul Haque
On Wednesday afternoon, after the arrest of Shawkat Afsar, Joint Commissioner of detective branch of police Monirul Islam in a briefing at the media center claimed that Shawkat had ‘confessed’ to the DB police that he had delivered the letter in which he threatened to blow up the Egyptian embassy. Furthermore he was alleged to have written down his name and mobile number in that letter. Police claimed that they had arrested him on the basis of the given mobile number. However, on being asked to show the letter by journalist, police failed to comply. Monirul further claimed that the handwriting in the letter was similar to the writing of “Shibir activist” Shawkat and that police would carry out ‘further questioning’ to uncover the plot.  

Shawkat Afsar with Muntasir Mamoon and company
Investigation of Shawkat’s facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/shaokat.osman.1) revealed that the claim of police that he was a member of Shibir seemed  far-fetched as there was not even a single post regarding Shibir on his page. Police were not even able to ascertain as to which branch of Shibir he belonged to.  Furthermore, Shawkat himself has said that he is not related to Shibir. He has, however, confirmed that he submitted a memorandum to the Egyptian embassy “Saudi o Misor dutabase Kora sarok lipi dilam” https://www.facebook.com/shaokat.osman.1/posts/433201300130157). However, police have not been able to confirm whether this was the same letter they were referring to. 

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