Increasing violence by the police

Immediate intervention necessary

The tragic death of Babul Matabbar, a tea vendor, who suffered severe burns in a murky incident involving the police and died subsequently, moves the conscience of the nation, but unsurprisingly, not the administration.

At around 9:30 pm on Wednesday, the 45-year-old fell on a kerosene stove after being pushed allegedly by a police informant accompanied by some policemen who came to pick him up from his roadside stall in Mirpur. While his wife tried to save him, she was reportedly beaten with a baton. And when his son was desperately trying to get his father to a hospital, the posse of policemen simply left.

Such acts of mindless violence by the law enforcement agencies are becoming disturbingly common, hurting the country’s moral standing in the world. The National Human Rights Commission chairman, after the incident, commented that the audacity of the police had crossed all limits.

Incidents like this may lead to citizens’ distrust of the enforcers of the law, eroding a fundamental social contract. The government must realise how capricious and violent their law-enforcement system is becoming day by day. Changing it will be hard; but change is long overdue. Police brutality has complex origins, but quite a lot of them may be susceptible to structural reform, which we have reiterated time and again.

“Suspending” officials and forming committees to “probe the matter” is hardly enough at this stage.  Transparency and accountability trickle down from the top and that’s where we look today for intervention.

Source: The Daily star


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