Police high-ups are embarrassed as many officials of the force have now been found involved in serious crimes including smuggling, human trafficking and rape, apart from the most common allegations of bribery and extortion.
Data of the Police Headquarters also shows that the number of complaints against officials ranging from superintendents to constables have been on the rise, despite repeated warnings issued by the home state minister, police chief and the Dhaka Metropolitan Police commissioner against such incidents.
Crime and security experts observe that strict monitoring, tough punishment and an end to culture of impunity could have stopped police’s involvement in serious crimes.
Asaduzzaman Miah, the DMP Commissioner, issued a letter last week saying he had evidence that many police officials were engaged in crimes like narcotics trade and kidnapping for money.
He warned of stern action against the errant personnel if they continued such activities.
AKM Shahidul Haque, the inspector general of police, said they had taken “zero tolerance” theory against the criminals. “If anyone is found involved in crimes, the person will not be treated as police official,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.
“Legal and departmental action will be taken against them,” he added.
Yesterday, the deputy commissioner (north) of Barisal Metropolitan Police, Jillur Rahman, was suspended for taking bribes from lower-tier officials promising them of giving promotion. Jillur was also attached to the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Office in Sylhet range.
Later in the day, 10 other officers were suspended. The Police Headquarters took the decision as per recommendation of the IGP since the allegation against him was proved. The “discipline and professional standard unit” of the police conducted the departmental inquiry.
Police Headquarters Security Cell data say they got around 6,000 complaints against officials of different tiers from January to May this year. Of those, complaints were filed against 5,566 police officers – 28 were arrested red handed while committing crimes – across the country.
So far, the Police Headquarters have taken action against 787 officials. Of them, 57 were sacked or sent to forced retirement. Probe against the remaining accused is under way.
Of the accused officials, three are police superintendents, seven additional police superintendents, 18 senior assistant police superintendents, 48 inspectors, 812 sub-inspectors, 1,218 assistant sub-inspectors, 1,115 sergeants and trainee sub-inspectors, 431 habildars, and 3,132 are naiks and constables.
The data show that the Police Headquarters took action against 14,500 police officers for involvement in crimes in 2013 while 15,500 in 2014. The number of complaints filed last year was 18,000.
Different local and international rights bodies also blame police and its elite force Rapid Action Battalion for their involvement in extrajudicial killings, forced disappearance and torture in custody.
On June 28, two sub-inspectors of Pallabi police station and 16 others were sued over extortion charges.
On June 21, an assistant sub-inspector of police’s Special Branch, Mahfuzur Rahman, was arrested by the Rapid Action Battalion with 6.80 lakh yaba tablets from Feni. In interrogation, he confessed that 14 other police officials were also involved in the drug business.
Last week, the OC of Cox’s Bazar Detective Branch (DB) of police was closed to the DIG office and 10 others transferred for their suspected involvement in yaba smuggling and human trafficking.
Recently, an intelligence agency recommended action against 24 police officers for their involvement in human trafficking.
A number of police officers were sued in the recent times for realising money from people, mainly businessmen, following abduction. Some of the victims were killed while others released.
Police officers have also been found involved in rape, and harassing rape victims and their families when they wanted to file complaints.
On May 27, the officer-in-charge and a sub-inspector of Rangunia police station were sued for destroying evidence of rape of a minor girl and harassing the victim’s family members.
Few days back, officials at Turag, Gulshan and Bhatara police stations refused to register a rape case when the victim, a Garo woman, and her family members went there. Later the High Court deplored the police’s behaviour and ordered that no victim faces such discrimination and negligence in the future.
On May 11, SI Kalimur Rahman and his cohorts raped a police constable at his house in the capital. He was later arrested from Cox’s Bazar area and eventually lost his job.
In February, then Mohammadpur zone assistant commissioner Rajibul Hasan kidnapped a 17-year-old girl and kept her confined in his house for two months. The victim’s family filed a case with Kafrul police and approached RAB for help.
After the incident came into light in April, Rajibul was withdrawn and attached to Tejgaon deputy commissioner’s office.
Prof Zia Rahman, chairman of criminology department at Dhaka University, thinks the offenders in the police force should be given exemplary punishment.
“As there have been changes in crimes and life style of the people, same happened with police’s activities,” he said.
Former police chief Md Nurul Huda said it is a very sorrowful incident that officials of a disciplinary force are getting involved in crimes.
“The senior officials should intensify supervision to bring down the number of crimes committed by the police,” he said adding that the departmental punishment should be increased.
When contacted, State Minister of Home Affairs Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said no one would be spared if they are found involved in wrongdoings. “We will take action against those responsible applying the existing laws of the country.”
The government on Wednesday suspended Barisal Metropolitan Police deputy commissioner Zillur Rahman on allegation of raising funds for bribing officials of three ministries to speed up promotion. Earlier on June 27, the police headquarters suspended 10 more cops of Barisal Metropolitan Police on the same allegation. The home ministry suspended Zillur following a recommendation made by the police directorate on June 28, said officials concerned.
The police directorate also recommended removal of the Barisal Metropolitan Police commissioner Shaibal Kanti Chowdhury in this connection, the officials said. Police headquarters in a statement on Wednesday said that Zillur was suspended for misconduct, corruption, breaching discipline and tarnishing the image of the department. Zillur hailed from Bogra joined Bangladesh Civil Service police cadre on January 25, 1999.
The 10 other suspended cops are assistant sub-inspectors Anisuzzaman, Monir Hossain and Md Hanif, nayek Kabir Hossain, drivers Shahidul Islam, Bablu Jamaddar and Dolon Baral, ration-storekeepers Abbas Uddin and Arifur Rahman and constable Tapas Kumar Mandal. Inspector general of police AKM Shahidul Hoque said that they would show ‘zero tolerance’ for any criminal irrespective of identity.
Additional deputy inspector general for discipline and professional standard Alamgir Alam told New Age that they launched an inquiry and found the involvement of the cops in raising the fund for bribing officials at ministries concerned. According to the police inquiry, the police in Barisal set a target of raising a fund of Tk 1.22 crore from 340 cops ranking from constable to sub-inspector to speed up promotions in the police force.
The police directorate officials said that the money was meant for concerned desks in home, finance and public administration ministries.
‘We did not identify people at the ministries involved in the process as it was out of our jurisdiction,’ said Alamgir, ‘Further inquiry is under way to make sure whether same thing is happening somewhere else.’
Talking to New Age, a number of local ranker admitted that they had to pay bribe to speed up their posting and promotion. The police said that the validity of promotion examination usually expired just one year after the examination and the cops were being posted or promoted based on vacancies.
‘The main problem is the files related to promotions and vacancies have got stuck in the ministries and sometime they move after the expiry of the examination,’ said an official. The police inquiry found that cops under supervision of Zillur had opened a bank account with Dutch-Bangla Bank branch in Barisal to raise a fund of Tk 1.22 crore for bribing officials in the ministries. Until the inquiry was launched, Tk 77 lakh was deposited in the account and Tk 60 lakh was withdrawn. A constable had tipped off the crime to the higher authorities recently leading the departmental inquiry. New Age Correspondent in Barisal added that a three member departmental inquiry led by BMP deputy commissioner (headquarters) Shoyeb Ahmed was instituted on June 13.
Police officials said that recently 800 new posts were created in BMP, while 230 constables were waiting for promotion to habildar and naik and a large number of cops were waiting for promotion to assistant sub-inspector after passing departmental examination successfully.
The fund was created collecting Tk 30,000 for a promotion to naik and habildar and Tk 50,000 for assistant sub-inspector, the inquiry found. The committee at police headquarters interrogated Zillur’s bodyguard Bablu, naik Kabir and assistant sub-inspector Monir in Dhaka on June 17. The police headquarters also interrogated some others. Collection of the money for the bribery began in January by the examinees, in inquiry revealed. Of the money, Tk 17 lakh was deposited in a joint account of assistant sub-inspector Anisuzzaman, nayek Kabir Hossain and driver Bablu at a Dutch-Bangla Bank branch in Barisal. The rest of the money was given to Zillur, the inquiry found.
‘Zillur confessed to the crime on black and white,’ a police headquarters official said.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police found 13 members of the force, ranging from constable to inspector, involved in mugging, extortion and drugs trading in the past five months since February, but none of them were punished till date. Officials concerned said that they received 17 specific allegations – 10 of mugging, three of extortion and four of drugs trading – against cops from February to June. After investigations, the police found 13 members guilty. Allegations against two cops were still under investigation and allegations against the rest two cops could be proved, the officials said. None of the 13 cops, however, faced any punitive action yet.
The officials said that departmental cases were filed against seven cops and criminal cases were filed against four, said an official of DMP professional standard and internal investigation department. The accused cops included an inspector, two sub-inspectors, a traffic sergeant, three assistant sub-inspectors, a Nayek and nine constables, showed DMP data.
Nine of the 10 allegations mugging and all the four allegations of drugs trading were proved in the force’s internal investigations, said the officials. An official concerned said that the actual number cops involved in crimes would be higher as many victims usually did not dare to ledge complaints or failed to provide specific evidence. DMP commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia recently warned all his officers in a letter that he had evidence that a section of police personnel were engaged in crimes like drugs trading, extortion and abduction for money.
Asaduzzaman told New Age on Wednesday that they would not allow some dishonest members to spoil the total force. He said that he would put an end to illicit transaction of money among some members of the force which he termed the root of the problem.
Involvement of cops in heinous crime including extortion and drugs business came in focus after Rapid Action Battalion arrested assistant sub-inspector of the special branch of police Mahfuzur Rahman and seized about 6.80 lakh Yaba tablets worth around Tk 27 crore in his car in Feni on June 21. He reportedly confessed that some other policemen were also involved in the drugs racket.
Based on his confession, Cox’s Bazar Detective Branch officer-in-charge has been withdrawn and 10 policemen have been transferred to different districts on allegations of their involvement in Yaba smuggling and human trafficking.
Sources: Dhaka Tribune and New Age