As we observe the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances today, we restate our abhorrence of the phenomenon. Regrettably, people continue to be victims of enforced disappearances and we have no idea regarding the whereabouts of many of them. As per data of a leading human rights organisation of Bangladesh, no less than 519 people have allegedly fallen victim to such 'forced' disappearances from 2010 to 2017 and approximately 329 of them remain missing.
There may be multiple reasons for people to go missing but the public perception that law enforcers are involved in a great many of these cases, is overwhelming. When Jasmin Nahar, whose husband went missing on August 4, 2016 tells that she saw her husband in the police lockup of the Satkhira Sadar Police Station, where she had had gone the next day to lodge a missing person's diary about her husband, and be told after four days that the police had not taken him into custody, we begin to comprehend why public perception is what it is. How does one grapple with the numerous eyewitness reports that many victims were picked up by groups of people identifying themselves as members of the law enforcement agencies?
On the other hand, if the government agencies are not involved in it, as the administration would have us believe, then there must be clandestine groups moving around with impunity picking people off the streets and from homes. That is an equally alarming situation. Thus the government, instead of dismissing the allegations against the agencies out of hand, must set up a special inquiry body to get to the bottom of the matter and put a stop to this, once and for all. The state owes at least that much to the relatives of those who have disappeared.