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     Volume 5 Issue 91 | April 21, 2006 |

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News Notes

At their mery once again
The policemen of our country have never enjoyed the reputation of being a very efficient and capable force. The only thing they have always done with great gusto is beating innocent people. They have shown it in Kansat and on April 16 in Chittagong. The trouble started when police halted a three-wheeler carrying the Prothom Alo's photojournalist Shamsul Haq Tenku and AFP's Farzana Godhuly. Though Tenku showed his accreditation card as well as car parking pass Sergeant Anwar refused to let them in. An altercation ensued and at one stage Anwar started to physically assault him while shouting abuses at the top of his voice. Other photojournalists and sports reporters rescued Tenku. The aggrieved journalists then took to the field and demanded punishment of Anwar, which Chittagong Divisional Sports officials as well as higher police officials agreed to meet.
During the lunch time when the issue was promised to be resolved deputy police commissioner (DC-Port) Ali Akbar Khan along with 25 to 30 policemen swooped on the journalists once again. They hit Jai Jai din's Ruhul Amin with batons and Jugantor's Saidur Rahman Shamim with a rifle butt. The other photojournalists and reporters who came to rescue their colleagues were also not spared. Sixty-plus bearded photojournalist of the daily Ajkal Johirul Haq was shoved and hit onto the ground and several policemen indiscriminately kicked him all over his body. Both the Bangladeshi and Australian players were stunned. Ricky Ponting the Australian captain videoed the entire episode in his hand camera. Importantly higher cricket officials present in the spot did not bother to intervene, neither did they care to learn about the well-being of the attacked journalists after the shameful incident. While the brutal and uncalled for police action beggars any plausible explanations, the BCB president and police's higher authority must take action against the offending officers.

The Fury of Student Politics
Isn't it funny that whenever we hear about any political party's student wing there is always some sort of violence or ignominy involved? So it isn't really surprising that Islami Chhatra Shibir, the student faction of Jamaat-e- Islami would do everything to spoil the Baishakhi celebrations of Chittagong University. The general students' were all set to celebrate Pahela Baishakh organising many activities to mark the day. But on the eve of the Bangla New Year, members of Shibir-backed Sangram Parishad vandalised all the props and decorations meant for the next day's festivities. The same people locked up even the Fine Arts Institute department in order to prevent students from making the usual colourful paraphernalia.
Shibir members also kidnapped the university's shuttle bus driver and his assistant. Even the train service to go to the university was halted. The Sangram Parishad, under the pretext of appealing for a solution to the electricity and water crisis, called a strike on the university campus. But it is obvious that the real reason behind the violent activities of the Sangram Parishad members was to prevent the university students from celebrating Pahela Baishakh, which certain sections of the society proclaim to be unIslamic.
This is in fact in keeping with Islami Chhatra Shibir's long tradition of controlling the campus and preventing all kinds of cultural activities. Obviously the Sangram Parishad members denied having any connection with the vandalism.
Chhatra Shibir of course is not unique in its propensity to be violent although perhaps it does have exclusive claim to being the pioneers of cutting the tendons of their victims. Jubo Dal had its own vandalising spree at the Dhaka Medical College on Pahela Baishakh. On Friday night, Omar Farukh, a bullet hit Jubo Dal leader was brought to DMCH. During the course of treatment, Farukh started haemorrhaging internally and died. His friends and party supporters believed that his death was due to medical negligence and so decided to vent their fury on the medical personnel including a doctor and anaesthetist. They also destroyed medical equipment worth half crore taka. The next day anaesthetists didn't come to work in protest of the attack so all scheduled operations for that day had to be cancelled.
Medical negligence is not an unknown occurrence at this public hospital but to vandalise the place and attack medical staff and destroy equipment that will be difficult to replace in a short time, given the cost, is definitely irresponsible and disgraceful. Especially since ultimately it leads to more suffering for the poor patients for whom DMCH is the only option.

You can be a police officer too!
Security seems to be at a confusing state right now with the police swooping on just about everybody and the RAB setting up check posts on almost every other street in Dhaka city. Who would let go of this juicy opportunity to make some extra cash in the name of law? Last month, four fake 'policemen' clad in Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) uniforms were arrested, including all the necessary accessories, from the centre of the city. They were posing as members of the Detective Branch and have been extorting money from the Motijheel, Paltan, New Market and Dhanmondi areas.
It seems that the government has no control on the trade of Police and Rapid Action Battalion uniforms and other accessories, paving way for unscrupulous individuals to pose as law enforcers and cheat people thereby. Obviously, this has led to a rise in cases of robbery, mugging and cheating by criminals in disguise of law enforcers, mostly because of the negligence of the police and those in charge.
There are three markets in Dhaka where uniforms and other accessories of police and Rab are sold, where the famous Polwell market happens to be the biggest one, housing at least 35 shops.
Although most businessmen at Polwell said that they were very cautious in selling these goods to the 'right people' inquiries reveal that there is no proper method to check if the buyer belonged to the law enforcing authority or not. "We know most of our customers and if we have any doubts we check their ID cards," said Amar Shaha of Jonaki police store at Polwell super market. "We know from experience if the buyer is a police officer or not. An officer identifies accessories by the proper terms meant for them, whereas an ordinary person cannot," said Abbas Ali of Bangladesh police store of the same market.
The other two markets are at Kochukhet and Rajarbagh.
A problem pointed out by another official was that all members of the police department do not have official ID cards. He also said that there was no strict rule that civilians cannot use any law enforcers' uniforms.
Another problem the police authority is facing at the moment is the similarity of uniforms worn by the private security service personnel. There are a few private security agencies using almost same or uniforms similar to the Bangladesh police.
A committee formed by the home ministry is working to formulate specific rules regarding the dress of law enforcers and private security services.

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