No room for police high-ups to lose control

IT IS highly disconcerting that no police personnel have been named in the first information report filed in connection with the killing of tea vendor, who died from his burn injuries on Thursday as he had been pushed down on to his burning stove by some police personnel at Shah Ali in Dhaka on the day for refusing to pay tolls to them. Incidentally, the public outrage compelled the police authorities to suspend five police officials of the area and withdraw the officer-in-charge. As New Age reported on Saturday, the police recorded the first information report naming some people not related to the incident, ignoring those who were actually involved in the incident and also disregarded what the victim’s son said. As per the law in question, however, the police are under an obligation to prosecute the suspended and withdrawn police officials named by the victim’s family and other witnesses. As such, the police are guilty on another count — they have let the accused policemen loose. Unfortunately, the inspector general of police has a tendency to gloss over this kind of incidents as he tries to describe criminal incidents involving the police as stray incidents. There are reasons to believe that it is mainly such an attitude for which police high-ups have failed to take, in most cases, any deterrent actions against the errant police personnel till date encouraging the involvement of police personnel in crimes.
One can also blame the politicisation of the force along the partisan line of the incumbents which has reportedly become rampant ever since the incumbents assumed office in 2009 and left an adverse impact on the chain of command in the force. Besides, the government increasingly employed the force making it disregard the constitutional rights of the people, be they belonging to civic groups or the camps of its political rivals. All this may have provided some sort of impunity for the errant police officials. One can recall in this connection dozens of incidents of extrajudicial murders and enforced disappearances of opposition activists, reported to have been perpetrated by law enforcers in the period. One can also recall the arrest that the law enforcement agency reportedly made by filing blanket cases on lame excuses against opposition activists all over the country in the period. There are also allegations that police officials usually have to pay hefty bribe for being posted to the capital and other cities and this understandably engages them in crimes.
The increasing tendency of police personnel to engage in crimes takes place at a time when the key crime-busting unit continues to fail to deliver in containing ordinary crimes. In any case, there is no room for the police high-ups to lose control of their subordinates. It is also time for all democratic forces to raise sustained voice and mount pressure on the government to prosecute the aberrant police personnel accused in the tea vendor murder case and try them, leading to punishment.

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