Does a picture prove someone’s political affiliation?

Tasmiah Nuhiya Ahmed

Rapid Action Battalion sealed off the head office of Regent Group and its hospital in the city’s Uttara after they were found involved in issuing fake Covid-19 test certificates and collecting money from Covid-19 patients. 

However, following the incident, social media has been flooded with photos suggesting Regent Group’s owner Md Shahed being involved with the International affairs committee of Bangladesh Awami League.  Even Shahed’s Facebook profile says he is a member of the international affairs subcommittee of the ruling party.

International affairs secretary of ruling Bangladesh Awami League Shammi Ahmed said that Shahed had never been a member of the International Affairs Sub-Committee of the party. "There's is a process to become a member and you must have a document (letter). He was never a member. 

He can't even show any document," she said. She said she did not pay heed to any request though Shahed requested her to make him a member of the Committee. 

In this regard, the Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that the irregularities in Regent Hospital over coronavirus test will be unveiled though investigations.

"The government has taken initiatives in every step [and] we’ll dig out all the irregularities. We’ve already arrested the culprits," she said.

Some people have become desperate to establish Shahed as a member of this subcommittee of the ruling party as part of their propaganda campaign against the government. 

They are posting pictures of Shahed with ruling party leaders and also pictures of his attending events organized by International Affairs Committee of Awami League. Why are we so desperate to prove Shahed’s political identity through posting picture? 

According to Digital Security Act, if any person through any digital medium intentionally or knowingly sends such information which despite knowing it as false is sent, published or propagated with the intention to annoy, insult, humiliate or denigrate a person or publishes or propagates or assists in publishing or propagating any information with the intention of spreading confusion then, the activity of that person will be an offense and for committing this offence, the person will be penalized with imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3(three) years of or fine not exceeding 3(three) lacs taka or with both. 

The Digital Security Act also provide that if a person commits an offence of publication or broadcast defamatory information as described in section 499 of the Penal Code (Act XLV of 1860) in any website or in any other electronic format then he will be sentenced to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 3(Three) years or fine not exceeding Tk.5 (Five) lac or both. 

Therefore, the people who are thirsting to defame the ruling party leaders through posting their pictures with Shahed on social media may have forgotten these provisions of law which define these activities as offence under law. 

Another issue is that we have started a new culture of humiliating others by posting their pictures with someone who is socially unaccepted person. That’s a new trend and a sick one, indeed. I guess no one knows from when it is an offence to have a picture with someone who has committed offence. 

However, we need to get ourselves out from this dirty culture. These activities reflect nothing but our cheap mentality and sick behavior. We should educate ourselves in proper manner before calling others culprit. 

Tasmiah is an Advocate of Bangladesh Supreme Court and an activist.