Withdrawing the Barguna OC not enough

The Daily Star March 30, 2020

Those responsible for custodial death should be tried after proper investigation

We are outraged at the death of Shanu Hawlader, a 55-year-old farmer, in police custody in Barguna. The hanging body of the man was found in Amtali Police Station of the zilla on March 26, three days after he was arrested. His family members alleged that police demanded Tk 3 lakh from them for releasing him, and as they could not arrange the money, the OC of the thana along with other police officers tortured Shanu to death.

The increasing number of custodial deaths in the country and the lack of measures from the police and the government to investigate the incidents and hold those accountable for these deaths make us wonder about the existence of rule of law in the country. According to rights body Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), 10 people died in jail custody across the country from January, 2020 to February, 2020. ASK statistics show that at least 14 people died in custody last year, of them, six died after torture.

Sadly, such incidents are never investigated properly and as we know, no police official has ever been punished according to the law of the country for torturing someone to death while in their custody. The only steps that are usually taken against the accused police officials include withdrawing them from their respective police stations and suspending them for a short period. And this is what has been done in the Barguna case also. At first, two police officers of the thana were suspended and later the OC was withdrawn and attached to Barguna Police lines. We would like to ask, what does this withdrawal mean? Why has he not been suspended until the investigation is complete? And what about punishing the OC and other responsible police officials for what can only be described as murder?

We have heard that two probe committees have been formed to investigate the incident. We demand a proper and impartial investigation from them and hope that action will be taken against the officials according to the law.



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