Visiting a Police station is probably one of the most uncomfortable tasks for anyone in Bangladesh, thanks to the age-old colonial traditions running within the force. Considering the present law and order situation, if citizens are well-informed about the law, the chance of them being harassed by authoritative bodies significantly decreases. This article is an effort to inform you about one of the most common interactions people undergo with the police: filing a General Diary (GD).
The legal base of GD can be found in Section 44 of the Police Act 1861; Sections 154,155 in Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and Regulation 377 of the Police Regulations, Bengal (PRB). However, I will be discussing here everything you need to know in layman's terms.
General Diary, as the name suggests, is a diary which records everything that happens in a Police station. It is more like a mirror of that Police station- by going through it, a supervising officer gets a clear picture of what is happening within the station's jurisdiction.
Now the million-dollar question: How is GD related to you?
Well, in many ways-say you lose your certificates/passport/necessary papers, somebody threatens you with physical harm, your mobile phone/bag/valuables are lost, anyone you know is missing for unusually long period, somebody passes sexually explicit comments towards you, or you are harassed in social media - then all these can be informed to Police through GD. Not only that, if you see anything unusual in your area and feel that this might be important for people's safety, you can go and file a GD in the nearest Police station.
For your convenience, let me briefly describe a few common scenarios where filing a GD can help.
a) If you lose your mobile phone and file a GD, it will save you from criminal charges if the stolen phone is used for any wrong doing.
b) If somebody opens a fake account in facebook by your name attempting to tarnish your reputation, GD will be a legal document which you can use in your defence.
c) If you lose your passport or academic certificates, filing GD is part of the process to issue a new one.
d) If somebody threatens you with physical harm, you can inform this to the Police by filing a GD. Your protection then will be the responsibility of the Police. You can always keep in touch with the officer assigned.
e) If you see any suspicious activity by anyone in your area, filing a GD will help police to take necessary actions. You don't have any risk of your identity being compromised.
The process of filing a GD is rather straightforward: you just need to know which police station the place of occurrence falls. For example, if you lose your mobile phone in Dhanmondi, go to Dhanmondi Police station and look for the duty officer. Some very important points in this regard are:
i) You can write the GD yourself by addressing to the Officer in Charge (OC) and describing the incident in details. If you do not know how to do it, duty officer is legally bound to help you.
ii) If the duty officer refuses to take the GD without justified explanation, you can directly write to the Deputy Commissioner/Superintendent of that area.
iii) Filing a GD is an absolutely free of cost service, anyone asking for money is committing a crime. If an officer asks for money/bribe- immediately complain to the OC or Assistant Commissioner/ASP of that area.
So, now that you know all you need to file a GD, if the situation arises ever, do not hesitate anymore-go ahead and file the GD as it is your lawful right!
The writer is a Senior Assistant Superintendent of Bangladesh Police (Currently on study leave at Tokyo).