As many as 262 noted citizens across the country carry gunmen for personal security.
The Ministry of Home says people who are entitled to this privilege include those holding constitutional positions, ministers, state ministers, deputy ministers and secretaries.
“Usually chief justice, justices, ministers, state ministers, deputy ministers and secretaries are entitled to police protection and gunmen. But in most cases they have bodyguards in uniforms. Those who hold constitutional positions have plainclothes gunmen,” said an official of the ministry.
If any noted citizen is concerned about security s/he can apply to the home ministry, he said.
The ministry does a threat assessment of the application through related organisations. If the ministry is satisfied with the investigation it will make arrangements for security. Sometimes armed gunmen are also provided considering the person’s social status, the official added.
Several militant outfits like Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and Ansarullah Bangla Team and Ansar al-Islam issued death threats and even killed some liberals, authors and publishers over the last few years.
They made threats to Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) Professor Muhammad Zafar Iqbal, his wife and others over text messages and other forms.
On March 3, a youth named Foyzur Rahman Faizul attacked Prof Zafar Iqbal at an event on the SUST campus. Law enforcement found that Faizul had links to militant outfits. He is currently on remand.
Following the incident, intelligence officials have strengthened surveillance for prominent people who were already under threat. These people can carry gunmen for their personal security, said police sources.
A senior official of police headquarters said: “There is no rule to keep police protection or a gunman following someone’s demand. A person will get a gunman if s/he can convince the authorities.
“But in most cases the noted people or businesspersons are given the license to carry firearms. They can arrange their security at their own costs.”
After militant attacks in Gulshan’s Holey Artisan Bakery and Sholakia in Kishoreganj, MP s demanded for beefed up security including gunmen.
The police official said: “Usually there is no provision for providing MP s with gunmen. But if they convince the home ministry they will get gunmen.
“Many lawmakers have arranged security by keeping personal gunmen and getting licensed firearms,” he said.
The official further said they provided plainclothes gunmen for security. Sometimes security is provided by the protection department through policemen in uniforms.
“Those who are dispatched for providing security are constables or sub-inspectors. They carry the firearms provided by the police force. They have to go through a one-month training regiment before the service,” he said.
Masudur Rahman, deputy commissioner (public relations department) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, said that the government takes the initiative if it thinks one should get security.
“According to government rules and regulations, ministers, state ministers and deputy ministers and other senior officials get police protection. If anybody applies for security, arrangements will be made at the home ministry’s directives.”
Saheli Ferdous, assistant inspector general of police (media and public relations) at Police Headquarters, said: “Initially we assess the threat of the person concerned. In this case we consider the person’s social status and other issues.
“If there is a financial issue, we see how much the person pays for tax. Then we recommend for police protection or gunman for the person considering a number of issues including the country’s image,” the police official said.
This article was first published on banglatribune.com