Arrest surging crime | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 05, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, September 05, 2012

Bitter Truth

Arrest surging crime

The horrifying reports of killing, abduction and extortion that fill the pages of the dailies with alarming frequency only lead one to believe that if anything the country has fallen in the grip of barbaric forces. Newspaper reports show that in just 6 days -- between August 24 and August 29 -- at least 30 people were killed in different places of the country. Not only the capital city but even the small towns seem to be caught in a frightening coil of fear and trauma.
In the six months ending June 2012, statistics revealed by the National Human Rights Commission showed that there were 2,272 murders in the country (13 murders daily), 84 cases of secret killings, 49 cases of acid throwing and 286 cases of sexual abuse on women and children. There is absolute anarchy bordering on total breakdown of law and order. A survey of the crimes committed in the last one year revealed that in Dhaka city alone at least one hundred persons belonging to distinguished professions were killed either for money or for political vendetta. And in most cases, the main culprits could not be booked.
Most alarmingly, the surge in crime has peaked mostly with the backing of some political masters and godfathers who have a share in the toll, and employ these thugs to eliminate their rivals. While newspaper reporters, columnists and editors write ponderous articles about the crime situation, the dastardly acts of the hoodlums that continue to play havoc with the citizens' lives go on unabated. With a temporary lull in such activities, when this menacing trend stops being headlined, we tend to feel once more that nothing had happened. But, most lamentably, the spectre of killing, abduction, extortion, terrorism and lawlessness continues to haunt the citizens, but no steps worth mentioning have been taken to improve police functioning.
Ironically true, the whole country is being held hostage in the hands of a limited number of criminals. Fed up with increasing incidence of killing, abduction, extortion, dacoity, looting and raping of young girls that brought no response from the law enforcement agencies, people in different parts of the country, and in many cases the victims themselves, out of pent up anger, took law into their own hands.
Even during the holy month of Ramadan murders have been committed in most of the districts and even remote villages. Such homicides are painful proof that the worst types of big city crimes are spreading as never before to smaller cities and towns -- places that have long been viewed as safe, "livable alternatives" to gradually congesting large urban areas.
A large section of the populace seems to be disillusioned with the integrity of the police and administration. If the evidence is anything to go by, the criminal, the politician and the police in the country have always been good friends. Each has a use for the other, a nexus that has time and again been shown to be lucrative
Terrorism, murders, abduction and political vendetta are the most defining and destabilising force in the lives of the people of the country today. They have become an immediate fear for everyone who has a stake in the civilisational order and the norms of a tranquil society. Such attacks, abductions, and ransom bids are pathetic reminders that someone out there is determined to strike at the heart of the country and take advantage of the poor governance.
No headway has been made in the investigations regarding the killing of journalist couple Sagar-Runi, abduction of Sylhet BNP leader Ilyas and driver Azam of APS Faruq's car involved in the railwaygate scam, and a host of other cases across the country.
The stark fact is that, at this hour of crisis, the government can neither sit tight nor relax. Undeniably true, law enforcement agencies in the country, if they had worked with commitment, could have halted this dangerous slide. Some of them have joined hands with the criminals, and this has emboldened the wrongdoers. In the face of mounting criticism about kickbacks and other malfeasance of some of the police personnel, people wonder if some transfers from one thana to another or temporary suspension can be construed as any punishment or can act as deterrent.
In fact we have a justice system so flawed that we have yet to bring to justice those who committed grievous crimes years before. Most of the cases progress at a pace so imperceptible that an occasional story in the newspapers is the reminder of justice not done. In fact, the past years have seen such a rapid decline into lawlessness, chaos and corruption that experts had taken to describing it as worse than ever before. Surely, what was going on must have reached the stalwarts in the administration, but they chose to ignore them and continued inflicting administratively incompetent officers on vital sectors and tinkering with politically irrelevant issues.
The question one may ask is what kind of criminal justice system or investigation allows these criminals to come out on bail or keeps them under trial for so long? The answer is that we need an investigation process that must be fair and never polluted by political intervention and a justice system that punishes criminals before we forget what their crimes were. Since justice is such an elusive thing, the average person faces sentencing without trial if he happens to be on the wrong side of some politicians or officials. He can be wrongly arrested, wrongly denied bail, even have his bank account frozen, his property seized and his life totally destroyed.
People are apt to think that the administration's ability to tackle the sensitive crime and core issues of statecraft, viz. police administration, economic issues, graft allegations against officials and politicians, is hardly up to the mark. Most worryingly, what is ominous is that trouble-makers, looters and goons have a large measure of administrative sanction in the mayhem that goes on. And that inevitably destabilises governance of the country and takes a heavy toll on the popularity of the government. The administration must, without delay, see what changes can be made to make ordinary people in the country feel that there is someone up there doing something.

The writer is a columnist of The Daily Star.

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