The 10-point memo issued by Police HQ comes presumably in response to a complaint from the head of the elite crime busting unit, Rapid Action Battalion, made up of police and army personnel.
The memo’s directives to rein in the ongoing rivalry of the two forces ask policemen to treat RAB men as “colleagues not rivals.”
The directives ask the police not to “attack anyone while on duty” and order that in case of misconduct by a RAB official it should be reported to superiors.
Any untoward incident will be investigated by the chief of the police unit. One even asks policemen to take pictures of wrongdoing, if any.
The directives themselves are seemingly innocuous enough.
But the question is why would the police have to issue such a directive, or why would the RAB chief put in an official complaint about the policemen?
That the two forces would show camaraderie to each other should have been a foregone conclusion. That has obviously not been the case, and it must have been going on for quite some time.
So the RAB and police are evidently not on the best of terms, and steps have already been taken to address, at least outwardly.
Police HQ instructs officers to tone down ‘rivalry’ with RAB
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But the deeper worry is that a simple memo would hardly address the problems behind the scenes that are less overt, for instance sharing resources, information and intelligence.
There have been a few instances in the recent past that indicate such a rift not just within these two forces, but involving other agencies as well.
For instance, the authenticity of certain photographs released to the media by one agency was questioned by the police officials in charge of investigating the July 1 Gulshan terror attack.
It was obvious then that the agencies were not cooperating or sharing their resources with each other even when it concerned an attack that killed 20 people.
Even on the very day that this memo was reported in the media the counter-terrorism chief openly dismissed the RAB chief’s claim about the leader of New JMB, saying that the Abdur Rahman in question was merely a third grade operative of the outfit.
It is common knowledge that RAB chief’s aspirations to head the entire police force were snubbed earlier, and further that his force was in a way relegated to what amounted to "guard duty" during sensitive operations at Gulshan and also Kallyanpur.
The consequent rivalry of the law enforcers and rift among the agencies have hardly been addressed, though.
One is wont to wonder if a lack of cooperation among the law enforcers is slowing down investigations of Islamist militants, or worse, blocking them altogether.