Police oppose external probe
The police have once again demanded that the home ministry scrap the two committees formed last year to investigate allegations of corruption, irregularities and other serious misconducts by cops.
A deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police made the demand at a conference of police high-ups with the home minister and the senior home secretary yesterday, the first day of the Police Week 2016. Most police officials attending the conference applauded the demand by clapping, meeting sources said.
Defending their call, some top cops said departmental probes were sufficient to deal with any allegations against their colleagues.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal did not make any comment in response to the police demand, but Mozammel Haque Khan, the senior home secretary, assured them that the government was “moving slow” on this, according to the sources.
The ministry formed the two committees -- one headed by a ministry representative and the other by the deputy commissioner concerned or his/her representative -- to investigate allegations submitted to the ministry against police members.
Representatives of the police headquarters were made member secretaries to both the committees.
Under the plan, the ministry committee is to probe allegations against officers with the rank of assistant superintendent of police and above while the DC or his representatives against constables, inspectors and other junior officers.
The home ministry informed the police headquarters about the decision in a letter on March 19 last year.
In June, the police HQ wrote back to the ministry, demanding repeal of the decision. Besides, top officials met the home boss several times to reiterate the call in person, police and ministry sources said.
Yesterday's call comes at a time when families are demanding judicial inquiries into the allegations of police torture on Bangladesh Bank official Golam Rabby and Dhaka South City Corporation employee Bikash Chandra Das.
These two incidents caused a huge uproar, demanding punishment to the cops involved in the alleged torture.
Many such incidents go unreported as victims believe they will not get justice given the allegations are investigated by police themselves.
The home ministry formed the two committees against such a backdrop.
At yesterday's conference, DC (Tejgaon division) Biplob Kumar Sarkar, who was the first speaker, demanded that the committees be scrapped as such committees would make police “subservient,” sources said.
According to him, the committees were formed “to shackle the force and destroy police members morally”.
He argued that there are 29 types of cadres in government service, but none of them face external probes. In their cases, senior officers investigate any allegations against their juniors.
Police officials were not happy even after the senior home secretary's assurance that the government was “moving slow”.
One police official told The Daily Star after the meeting, “If it is not scrapped altogether, it will remain like a noose around our neck.”
Contacted, Additional Home Secretary (police) Akhtar Hossain said the committees were still there. “It is not that that they will function all the time; we will use it in special cases.”
Sources in the ministry said the committees were yet to investigate a single allegation against any cop as the police reacted sharply against the formation of the committees.
Executive Director of Transparency International Bangladesh Iftekharuzzaman said police, of course, would carry out their departmental enquiry. But in case of major allegations where only departmental probe is not enough, the ministry committee can come into play.
Even, some investigations can be done by the Anti-Corruption Commission or other institutions to bring transparency and accountability and gain people's trust, he told this newspaper.
Speaking at the meeting, Additional Inspector General of Police Mokhlesur Rahman said police took action in case of moral turpitude of some force members.
"But we see attempts to taint the whole force for some stray incidents of deviation," he said.
"If you notice, whenever we receive any allegation against anyone, we take punitive action against them," he was quoted as saying at the meeting.
According to the police headquarters, some 76 policemen ranging from constable to sub-inspector were sacked or sent into forced retirement over various allegations of misconduct last year.
In some other calls, officials demanded formation of a special police division, introduction of risk allowance for cops and increasing ration for the family of the police members killed while on duty.
If the special division is formed, police will be able to make quick decisions and prepare their own budget, sources said.
In response to these demands, the senior home secretary asked the police officials to place them in writing and that he would discuss those with the appropriate authorities.