Who will rein in the police?
We are shocked at the blatant apathy to a serious malaise that has infected the police. The culture of crossfire has struck the very fibre of our society and shaken the fundamental pillar of good governance—the rule of law—and inflicted a severe blow to people's most fundamental rights. What is of concern is that the frequent use of this abhorrent and inhumane practice has been extended across the entire gamut of police activity. While initially, one came across reports of encounters with criminals and anti-state elements (whether genuine or not cannot be said with certainty though), crossfire and the threat of it has become a handy expedient for extortion by the law enforcing agencies. This is a state of affairs that no administration should feel happy with and no society can be comfortable in and, much less, endure.
We wonder whether the police in particular and the administration in general are aware of the consequences of these killings. Every other day, there are reports of such incidents, with the same explanations of the circumstances of the deaths, which invariably differ from the accounts of the families of the victims and the circumstantial evidence. In the most recent incident, an expatriate Bangladeshi in Chakaria of Cox's Bazar was disposed of by some police personnel, because, reportedly, he could not pay the Tk 50 lakh the police wanted from him, who then conveniently painted the victim as a yaba trader. Another person was killed in the same area in a similar manner; apparently, the unfortunate man could be a victim of mistaken identity—Hasan the rickshaw puller might have been picked up instead of Hasan the yaba trader, according to the local ward councillor.
We wonder why the police administration has been unable to stop their personnel from perpetrating criminal acts. These are not isolated incidents but have become normal happenings. Very few of such incidents are inquired into, if at all, and very few of the errant police personnel, overstepping the bounds of law, are punished.
The police cannot effectively gain people's trust and confidence if such killings continue. The police administration should wake up if the situation is to be salvaged, and so should the Ministry of Home Affairs.