The significance of close-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in tracking down criminals has been proven once again as police are struggling to pinpoint the identities of the killers of Mahmuda Khanam Mitu, wife of Superintendent of Police Babul Akter.
Unidentified assailants stabbed and shot at Mitu, who was taking her son to his school bus early Sunday morning, at GEC Intersection in Chittagong before fleeing the scene on a motorcycle, killing the 32-year-old right in front of her child.
Police have yet to make any headway in the murder investigation because they do not have any clear CCTV footages.
All they are working with is a blurred footage collected from the CCTV camera of Premier University. The footage is so blurred that it is very difficult to identify the killers and figure out where they went.
Since there are CCTV cameras installed at strategic points around the city, it was expected that the killers' identities and which direction they went when they fled would be found in the footages from those cameras.
However, the shocking reality is that most of the CCTV cameras are out of commission; only a handful are still functioning.
A total of 139 CCTV cameras were installed at exit points, intersections and all important places around to city around one and a half years ago in order to curb crimes.
Incidentally, it was Babul Akter who led the initiative by Chittagong Metropolitan Police (CMP) when he was serving as an additional deputy commissioner at the Detective Branch of police.
Sources at the CMP said many of these cameras were disconnected when Chittagong City Corporation conducted drives to bring down illegal billboards.
At least 126 CCTV cameras have been found to be out of order.
Syamal Kumar Palit, director of Chittagong Communications Ltd, was involved with the CMP initiative of installing CCTV cameras.
“Four cameras were set up in the GEC intersection and four others were installed in Probortak crossing in the city. The killers escaped through Probortak after accomplishing their mission. They could have been identified if the eight cameras in those two intersections were working,” Syamal said.
Seecurity experts underscore the importance of CCTV cameras, saying they help with deterring and combating criminal activities like forced disappearance, abduction, mugging, arson attack, sabotage acts and political violence.
“CCTV cameras act as a deterrent in preventing criminal activities. The criminals usually think twice before committing a crime due to the surveillance of the CCTV cameras,” said Major (rtd) Emdadul Haque, a security analyst.
He also put emphasis on reactivating the out-of-order CCTV cameras at all strategic points in the city – commercial areas, shopping malls, residential areas and educational institutes.
CMP Commissioner Md Iqbal Bahar said police have started the process to reactivate all the disconnected CCTV cameras in the city.
“We installed a total of 139 CCTV cameras all over the city. But only 13 cameras are now operative,” he said. “I have talked to the city mayor about it and the process to reconnect the disconnected cameras has already begun.”