A Hindu teenager was convicted yesterday under the Digital Security Act in a case filed after the violence that left an entire Hindu fishing village burned to the ground in Rangpur’s Pirgachha in October 2021.
Poritosh Sarkar, who was a 10th grader at the time, was sentenced to five years in prison for “hurting the religious sentiments” through a derogatory social media post. However, as of now, no evidence has been found that Poritosh had made any such derogatory post as his phone was broken beyond repair and the Criminal Investigation Department of police was unable to conduct forensic tests on it.
This is the first conviction concerning the communal violence that left over 60 Hindu homes razed. Not only has nobody else been convicted, but most of those accused in another case of attacking the village are out on bail, while the rest are on the run.
According to the Pirganj police station. Poritosh was sentenced under section 31(1) of the DSA which criminalises the publication of anything that “creates enmity, hatred or hostility among different classes or communities of the society, or destroys communal harmony”.
Sessions Judge of the Rangpur Cyber Tribunal Abdul Mojid handed the verdict. The verdict against Poritosh is also the first instance where the Rangpur Cyber Tribunal handed down a conviction, that too, against someone whose own cowshed was burnt down in the mayhem. In addition to being the only one related to the communal violence being punished, Poritosh was put into solitary confinement for eight months while he underwent trial. The prison authorities had told Poritosh’s lawyer and his family that he was being kept there “for his safety”. Solitary confinement that lasts longer than 15 consecutive days is recognised by the United Nations as “torture”. Poritosh was denied bail three times by the Rangpur Cyber Tribunal. He was finally released on bail on May 9, 2022, after a High Court order was issued in this regard. But on February 5, Judge Abdul Mojid sent him to jail again to await the verdict.
No one convicted for Anti-Hindu Violence
Although, Paritosh is convicted for his Facebook post, but no one is convicted for Anti-Hindu Violence and burning the whole Hindu village . All islamic radicals are out in bail.
The others accused for the communal violence include the village mosque’s moazzem Rabiul Islam, who made the calls from mosque loudspeaker for people to gather; Saikat Mandal, the mastermind of the incident; and Ujjal Hasan, who had first taken a screenshot of the social media post allegedly made by Poritosh and spread it. They are all out on bail. Also out on bail are 74 people accused of attacking and burning down the village, while 72 others are on the run.
“We will take the case to the High Court,” said Poritosh’s lawyer Shamim al Mamun. Ismail Hossain, a sub-inspector of Pirganj Police Station, filed a case under the DSA accusing Paritosh Sarkar and he wastaken into custody on October 19, 2022.
(Report by Pradip Chandra)