Rahman, a reporter at the daily Amader Rajshahi, was taken into custody after a complaint was filed against him by members of the paramilitary force Border Guards Bangladesh, according to The Financial Express.
Rahman’s family told CPJ that on September 30, a member of the border guards called Rahman and ordered him to bring his camera, memory card, and mobile phone to a camp in Godagari. At the camp, a guard erased the contacts on his phone and took him to the local police station.
Authorities brought drug-related charges against Rahman, claiming he was in possession of heroin and yaba tablets (a mix of methamphetamine and caffeine), his family and colleagues told CPJ. The family says the allegations are fabricated.
Drug smuggling is rampant along Bangladesh’s border with India and Myanmar, according to news reports.
Rahman’s parents, Raoshan Ara and Al Amin, told CPJ their son had been arrested in retaliation for his critical reporting on the border guards and powerful drug lords operating along the India-Bangladesh border. Rahman had worked as a freelance journalist for various local papers for four years, and most recently worked at the Amader Rajshahi, Ara told CPJ.
On September 15, Rahman published a report alleging that members of the border guards were collecting excessive money from cattle traders at the border with India before the Eid holiday, Ara told CPJ.
Two people familiar with Rahman’s case, who have not been named for security reasons, told CPJ that Rahman had reported on border guards’ alleged role in drug smuggling.
The border guards did not respond to CPJ’s request for comment.
Rahman’s family told CPJ in October 2015 that he is being held at a Rajshahi jail. They reported no health issues, but expressed concern about his mental health. The family told CPJ they had not heard if a date for his trial had been set.