No let-up in extrajudicial killing by law enforcers


THE killing of two suspected robbers during a ‘gunfight’ at a village in Jaipurhat early Tuesday provides yet another poignant reminder that the police, the Rapid Action Battalion and other law enforcement agencies seem to have adopted extrajudicial murder as a preferred tool in their so-called combat against crime. Worse still, they seem to have done so with an apparent sense of impunity, which is reflected in the same old absurd account of the cause and context of such murders.

According to a report published in New Age on Wednesday, the officer in charge of investigation at the local police station followed the same storyline — that they had been tipped off about an attempt at robbery in a village market and conducted a raid there and that the alleged robbers open fire on them triggering a shootout and resulting in the death of the two. While the Rapid Action Battalion has over the years become almost synonymous with extrajudicial murders, the police do not seem to have lagged far behind in what could be called a murderous competition.

Moreover, although there have been sustained criticism and condemnation, at home and abroad, of, and even a series of rules by the apex court, against, such killings, successive government have done very little to rein in the trigger-happy law enforcers. The incumbent Awami League government has pledged at national and international forums on several occasions, in line with the ruling party’s 2008 election manifesto, that it would show zero tolerance against extrajudicial killings. However, its promises have largely gone by default. The government has not even paid any heed to widespread calls for independent inquiry of each and every incident of extrajudicial killing.

On the contrary, in the wake of widespread violence and vandalism, death and destruction during the countrywide blockade by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led opposition camp in protest at the farcical general elections on January 5, 2014, the battalion and the police went on a spree of extrajudicial killing of opposition leaders and activists, apparently at the behest of some key functionaries of the government and top law enforcers. The government needs to realise that despite all this extrajudicial killing spree by law enforcing agencies, there has hardly been any change in the law and order situation that continued to deteriorate since its assumption of power for the previous term in 2009.

Worse still, as mentioned in these columns earlier on many occasions, such unlawful activities by law enforcers, to a significant extent, may have encouraged many people to take law in their own hands in the form of lynching of suspected criminals. Extrajudicial killing not only undermines the rule of law, which dictates that even the vilest of criminal deserves to be defended in the court of law, but also weakens the state by plunging it into sheer lawlessness.

In view of the government’s apparent inability or unwillingness to stem the trend, it is up to society at large, especially its rights-conscious sections, to mobilise public opinion and bring the pressure to bear on the incumbents so that they take deterrent actions and set prohibitive precedents against extrajudicial killings.

Source: New Age