Fact-check 1: A Hindu man named Titu Roy made a derogatory post on Facebook about Islam
It is still not sure who made the original post – or even what the original post was. Television channel Ekattor TV broadcast a report saying somebody by the name of Rakesh Mondal posted a satire about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in a group called Bangladeshi Teenagers.
This was picked up a member of the Islami Andolon group called Maulana Asadullah Hamidi (facebook handle: মাওঃ আসাদুল্লাহ হামিদী) who crafted an angry retort on his own profile. This was then shared by someone with the facebook handle MD Titu.
The post that Maulana Asadullah Hamidi wrote has been deleted since, but a facebook user kept a screenshot showing it partially. We are claiming that this is unverified because the facebook profile MD Titu could not be found.
The Ekattor TV report includes an interview of the Andolon member, confirming what he did.
Fact-check 2: Police attacked and killed peaceful protestors
On November 10, 30 Hindu houses were set alight during the protest against the facebook post. The demonstrations happened in several places, and the group in Horkoli Thakurpara was not peaceful, as reported by The Daily Star.
Ekattor TV broadcast a report showing how the police and journalists examined footage sourced from the ground to recognise those setting fire to the villages.
Fact-check 3: The Hindu community set their own homes alight
The populist extreme right-wing facebook page Basherkella posted a status saying that this entire incident was orchestrated by the Hindu community themselves. The post points out to a video footage of the incident and states that the police are shouting “Why did you set the houses on fire?” at someone. There is no evidence available to verify who indeed that was being said to, but the Additional Superintendent of Police (Special Branch) ABM Zakir Hossain told BSS that “Police have identified each person who were directly involved with the clash from video footage captured by police from the spot and not a single person can escape arrest.”
Some Facebook users also felt the same, believing that the Hindu community set their own homes on fire for aid.
Fact-check 4: Titu Roy cannot get bail
Titu Roy, the man arrested , was denied bail earlier this week. A Rangpur court headed by Justice Hakim Ariful Islam, handed the verdict to Titu Roy’s legal representative Bangladesh Legal Aid Services Trust (BLAST) on Sunday afternoon. Roy was arrested following a riot in Rangpur where Hindu houses were set on fire by a procession headed by the followers of an Islamic leader. A resultant clash with the police left one dead and many injured.
Roy was arrested under Section 57 on November 13, 2017 from Nilphamari. Section 57 states that anyone who “intentionally publishes or broadcasts something which is false and obscene by reading, watching or listening to the material in a particular condition such that a person may be inspired to do something which causes defamation, undermines law and order or creates a possibility of doing so, distorts the image of a person or the state, hurts people’s religious sentiment or creates the possibility of doing so, or instigates people against a particular person or a group” is considered a non-bailable offense. Under this law, if Roy had indeed posted something derogatory about Islam, it is non-bailable.
On the other hand, individuals booked under section 57 have received bail. On July 25, a Supreme Court lawyer called Imtiaz Mahmud, who had allegedly posted fabricated stories about ongoing issues in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, received bail. In his case statement, according to Banglanews24.com, it was mentioned that the post sought to instigate communal hatred. The bail was given by High Court Justices Obaidul Hassan and Krishna Debnath.
People convicted under Section 57 can get a maximum of 14 years in jail and a fine of Tk 1 million.
In an interview with The Daily Star last May, legal expert Barrister Jyotirmoy Barua had said, “Granting bail is a discretionary decision that a magistrate has the power to make depending on the offence.”
There is a legal provision for bail even for those accused of non-bailable offenses. The law states that “If it appears to such officer or Court at any stage of the investigation, inquiry or trial, as the case may be, that there are not reasonable grounds for believing that the accused has committed a non-bailable offence, but that there are sufficient grounds for further inquiry intohis guilt, the accused shall, pending such inquiry, be released on bail, or, at the discretion of such officer or Court, on the execution by him of a bond without sureties for his appearance as hereinafter provided.”