DELIBERATE and delinquent acts pertaining to gold in recent times have disgraced and shamed all of us. It is indeed shocking and painful to know that responsible people in the corridors of power have allowed the use of substandard materials to make crests that were awarded to Bangladesh's foreign friends who made great contribution to our Liberation War. While the authority's intended probe to identify and expose the criminals is praiseworthy, the fact remains that the abominably scandalous acts have made Bangladeshis hang their heads in shame.
The arrogance and damning attitude of the mischief-makers can be gauged from the report that the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) found only around 2.36 grams of gold in place of the specified 11.64 grams and only an alloy of base metals instead of the supposed 350 grams of silver in each of the crests. The arrogance and the manifest callousness of the perpetrators of the crime can be seen from their total lack of thought of demeaning the auspicious occasion and robbing the symbolic value of the awards.
The moral depravity of the delinquents should awaken all concerned to take serious note of criminal negligence in high places and to ensure the severest of punishments at a very early date. The culprits behind the national shame must not be able to escape the arm of law. Manifest punishment for mind-boggling misdeeds is the demand of the day.
The other shameful and image-shattering acts involving gold relates to the allegation of collaboration in and misappropriation of gold bars by members of law enforcement agencies in Dhaka city. This has come at a time when there is a worrisome increase in gold smuggling in Dhaka and Chittagong. Concern has been expressed as to whether suspicion of involvement of higher levels of police hierarchy in gold smuggling could be indicative of the vulnerability of national security.
Whether or not the above incident is an isolated one and whether an assistant commissioner has been willfully let off the culpable list are matters that deserve attention of the top leadership of police for setting their house in order and establishing the organisation's credibility as an impartial law enforcement outfit. The black sheep in the house need to be reined in and, therefore, early punishment of all those involved in the smuggling of gold bars should be a priority with the Dhaka Metropolitan Police.
Since gold smuggling is not an ordinary crime it should be accorded the due significance taking into view the national security aspects in the wake of increased smuggling transactions. The gun runners and drug barons are credibly suspected to be involved with gold smuggling. The intensity of gold smuggling, therefore, should alert us to the need of invigorating the checkposts and listening posts and gearing up the intelligence complement. Needless to mention, the presence of shady personnel in sensitive regulatory places would be sadly self- defeating.
The police are and shall continue to remain the basic outfit for providing security. The slackening of control and supervision therein cannot be accepted and official highhandedness must not be able to escape swift punishment.
The writer is a columnist of The Daily Star.