Who will recoup Arman’s five lost years?
Arman's is a story that will make a good cinema plot because such things can only happen in a tragic novel, or so we think. In Bangladesh, this happens in real life too. Unfortunately there have been far too many cases of mistaken identity by the police which have sent the wrong persons to jail. And in certain cases these unfortunate persons had to spend several years behind bars, before the mistake was established in the High Court, all because of the fault of the investigating agencies. The case of Bablu Sheikh is too recent to forget. This man had to fight a legal battle for 17 long years before he was finally cleared of charges, in Oct 2019 , for a crime he did not commit. According to reports in this daily, it was a case of mistaken identity with him being taken for an accused in a case. And the shoddy work of ACC investigators cost Jaha Alam three years of his life.
Mohammad Arman's is another such case which suggests that the reprobation from the higher courts have made little difference in the way that investigating agencies go about their job. Arman had to languish in jail for five years. But his is not a case of mistaken identity only. His whereabouts were unknown for five days when his family members discovered that he was in hospital in police custody, recovering from the rough treatment by the police to force him to accept his guilt. Even his NID was not enough to convince the investigating officer that Arman was the wrong person.
We are happy to note that the High Court has directed the IGP to compensate Arman for his travails and tribulations. But should it have taken five long years to establish that Arman was the wrong person to be incarcerated? While the money can be a solace to some extent, can it give him back the five years that he suffered in jail, and the agonising five years his family suffered in his absence? There should be strong disincentives for investigating officers to commit such grave errors. Merely paying up the compensation money is not enough of deterrence. We believe that in such cases the investigating officer(s) should be held culpable and put through the course of law.