DMP to probe 'attack on cops'
Amid widespread criticism over Sunday's police brutality on Chhatra Union activists, Dhaka Metropolitan Police yesterday formed a committee to investigate how protesters made it to Minto Road from Dhaka University crossing several barricades and "attacked" on-duty cops.
According to a DMP press release, the three-member committee, headed by a joint commissioner (logistic, finance and procurement), will also assess the context of "adverse media reports" on the police action and look into what security measures were taken by Ramna Division to tackle the situation.
The release describes the police's high-handed response to the demonstration as "lawful".
The police headquarters, however, will investigate the on-duty cops' excesses that left 34 protesters wounded and saw several female activists brutally assaulted with batons and boots. It yesterday formed a committee for that.
About a hundred activists of Chhatra Union came under police attack near Officers Club on Shaheed Captain Mansur Ali Sarani as they tried to lay siege to the DMP headquarters in Ramna on Sunday. They were protesting at police failure to arrest those responsible for the sexual assaults on women during Pahela Baishakh celebrations on the Dhaka University campus.
The DMP asked the committee to submit its report in seven working days.
Meanwhile, Nayek Anisur Rahman has been suspended for "misbehaving" with a female activist during the incident, said SM Jahangir Alam Sarker, acting deputy commissioner (Media) of DMP.
Anis's suspension came after newspapers published photographs showing that a policeman grabbed a female protester by the neck and pushed her. Another cop was seen kicking her.
The incident triggered outrage with condemnation pouring in from rights bodies and different socio-political organisations.
Terming the brutality "heinous", they demanded the government ensure exemplary punishment to those responsible for the excesses through a proper investigation into the incident.
Anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International, Bangladesh, in a statement, said the brutality and gender insensitive behaviour by a section of police on a peaceful protest showed that the police force is being used continuously as "political hermaphrodite".
In another statement, rights body Ain O Salish Kendra demanded the perpetrators be brought to book through a fair probe.
"Such police attack and torture on the demonstrators are direct violation of the protection guaranteed in the constitution,” reads the statement.
Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, in a statement, said police did not take action against the sexual molesters and instead, they carried out barbaric attacks on the students who were protesting the assault and demanding arrest of the molesters.
Nari Sanghati, Nagorik Oikyo, Jatiya Mukti Council, Sammilita Sangskritik Jote, Gono Forum, Garment Sramik Trade Union Kendra and Lekhak-Shikkhak-Chhatra-Shilpi-Sangskritikormi-Peshajibi-Rajnoitik Kormibrinda, among other organisations, condemned the police brutality.
A strike will be observed today at all educational institutes across the country to protest the incident. Chhatra Union called the strike right after the incident.
The left-leaning student body yesterday held a protest rally on the DU campus.
At the programme, Tanzimuddin Khan, associate professor of international relations department of DU, said, "We've seen the government's monstrous face yesterday."
Those who are in power are using sexual harassment and fundamentalism as business, he alleged.
"Police are now more ruthless and hideous comparing to police in 1971 during the Pakistan rule”, Tanzimuddin said.
Liton Nandi, president of Chhatra Union's DU chapter, alleged the DMP commissioner gave assurance that he'd meet them but he did not. Police rather led attack on them.
HIGH COURT WRIT
A writ petition was filed with the High Court yesterday challenging the legality of police assault on protesters.
The petition sought the court's order on the government to take necessary action against the law enforcers responsible for the assault on the women activists on Sunday.
Supreme Court lawyer Eunus Ali Akond submitted the petition to the HC yesterday and prayed that the National Human Rights Commission be ordered to investigate whether human rights were violated.
He told The Daily Star that the court may hear the petition today.
Citing the petition, which accompanied reports carried in The Daily Star and the Prothom Alo, Eunus said law enforcers reportedly violated the human and fundamental rights of the protesters, which is illegal and against the constitution.