Senior lawmakers in parliament yesterday demanded that the law enforcement agencies kill rapists “in crossfire” to stop rape incidents, which have increased alarmingly in recent times.
Coming from both the treasury and the opposition benches, they also called on the government to amend the existing law to incorporate a provision for death penalty for rapists.
The MPs urged the Speaker to set a date to discuss how to end the scourge of rape and why such incidents have lately shot up.
Participating in an unscheduled discussion, Awami League MP Tofail Ahmed said, “It’s true we need a tougher law. But if we can take instant actions through ‘crossfire’ on drug-related issues, then why can’t we follow the same in case of rapists?”
He added, “The person who we know has committed this crime [rape] does not have any right to stay alive anymore.”
Earlier, opposition Jatiya Party MP Mujibul Haque Chunnu, who first raised the issue, said that according to a Police Headquarters report, 2019 saw the highest number of rape incidents.
He demanded that Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, who was presiding over the sitting at that time, fix a date suspending all other businesses of the Jatiya Sangsad and hold discussions on how to root out rape.
Calling for amendments to the present law, the JP lawmaker said mere life terms will never be able to control the growing number of rape incidents. “A provision for death penalty should be incorporated in the law.”
Pointing to Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, he asked, “You are allowing ‘crossfire’ as part of a fight against drugs. Then why aren’t you doing the same in case of rape?”
Joining the discussion, another JP MP Kazi Firoz Rashid said rape incidents have reached epidemic proportions in recent times.
Referring to the rape of a Dhaka University student and a garment worker in Dhamrai, he said, “When you will go to court to try the rapist, you won’t find any witness. Therefore, you will have to go for ‘encounters’ to free the society from this menace.”
Pointing to rights activists campaigning against extra-judicial killings, Firoz said, “You would understand the pain only if you or your mother or sister become a victim.”
Citing the gang rape on a bus in Tangail, he said further incidents of rape would not have occurred, had those rapists been killed “in crossfire”.
The JP MP also said killing 10 to 12 rapists “in crossfire” would surely bring down rape incidents. “The only remedy is killing rapists ‘in crossfire’ after their confession.”
Bangladesh Tarikat Federation MP Syed Nazibul Bashar Maizvandary supported Chunnu and others, and said, “I can say that you will go to heaven if you kill rapists in ‘crossfire’.”
About the MPs’ call, TIB Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman said, “It is appalling to say the least, except the only silver lining that they distinctly acknowledge from the floor of the parliament that extrajudicial killings are taking place in the country.
“The appalling part of it is that they are not only recognizing that such killings have the blessing of the lawmakers but that they are also proposing to promote it further.
“From the point of view of human rights, rule of law and justice, there can be hardly any worse news. Everyone wants the rapists to be brought to justice through exemplary punishment.
“However, one wonders how the lawmakers could forget that no one can be punished without proper trial in the due process. The most likely outcome is miscarried justice and further institutionalisation of a trigger-happy culture among the law enforcers. The statements should be expunged.”