When police are the criminals

When police are the criminals

Prothom Alo editorial, Feb 11, 2019

Two members of the police abducted three innocent young men and demanded a ransom of 3 million taka. This is not a mere allegation. It was openly revealed at a recent press briefing by the Gazipur police superintendent. The two accused policemen are assistant sub inspector (ASI) of Kaliakoir police station Abdullah Al Mamun and ASI of Mirzapur police station Mushfiqur Rahman. They both had previously been with the detective branch (DB) in Gazipur.

At 5 in the afternoon on Wednesday, Raihan Sarkar, Labib Uddin, Naushad Islam, Taribullah and Raqibul Rahman were going by car to the trade fair and stopped at a filling station along the Dhaka-Tangail highway. Two of the friends got down for a cup of tea at a tea stall there. The two policemen came up and dragged away Raihan, Labib and Naushad. They demanded 3 million taka ransom. They threatened to kill them in ‘crossfire’ if the ransom wasn’t paid. There were a few other people with the two policemen.

The two young men who had gone for a cut of tea immediately rushed to the Kaliakoir police station and reported the abduction. The police recovered the abducted young men. They caught the two policemen, but their associates got away.

Gazipur SP Shamsunnahar said that no matter who the criminals may be, they will not be spared. Her words smack of political rhetoric. Unless the words are proven in action, they amount to nothing. When the two offending police officers were with DB, they were accused of extortion and other offences, but was any investigation conducted regarding those allegations? If there was an investigation, the outcome should have been made public.

Allegations of police being involved in all sorts of crime at the field level are nothing new. But there are hardly any instances where proper investigations are conducted against them and punitive action is taken. The two police officers being involved in this recent abduction is extremely harmful for the image of the police.

Measures taken against such crime will improve the image of the police department. The department must be freed of all sorts of unethical, unlawful and criminal activities. This should be done both in the interests of the country and of the police department itself.

Public trust is the biggest strength of the police. This trust is eroded by allegations of corruption, of framing people with false charges, extracting money from people by threatening them with crossfire or abduction, etc. Stern action is required to halt this. Transfers, suspension and such light punishment will not be effective. Investigations are carried out, but the offending police officers are not tried or punished. The public thus assumes that the police department simply shields its criminal members.

It is imperative to dispel such mistrust by taking due legal action against police who commit crime. But that is not being done. An independent police complaints commission must established for the purpose.

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