Tuesday, June 25, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Don’t just blame the police

Update : 07 May 2015, 07:05 PM

Almost everyone is blaming the police for its failure to prevent the sexual assault on women by a group of men during the Pohela Boishakh celebrations at the Dhaka University campus. But how far can the police be blamed for this failure and inaction?

First of all, the place where the terrible incident took place is a no-action zone for the police. That place is the de facto sanctuary for the members of a certain student wing of certain a political party.

They enjoy immunity from the long arms of the law. And in practice, the place exclusively belongs to that all-powerful student organisation. When someone commits an offence in that area, the police assume he is the member of that student organisation.

So, a policeman does not dare take action against the offenders, fearing that his job will be at stake. If he is not sacked from his job for taking action, there is a great possibility that he will be transferred to a remote part of the country, or will undergo some sort of punishment. Who would willingly bring misfortune upon himself, when inaction saves himself from such perils? This might also be the reason the nearby police personnel stayed as indifferent onlookers when Avijit was heinously murdered.

There are countless complaints against the police force of Bangladesh. One complaint is its inefficiency. Is this a fair accusation? We have seen in the past that during the short tenures of the undemocratic, unconstitutional caretaker governments, the same police force became quite efficient.

During that time, criminals were in hibernation; and the crime rate in the country took a nosedive. Which magic wand made our police force so efficient in no time? And why do they go back to their old practices under democratic regimes?

Whenever a democratic government in Bangladesh takes the reins, many government-backed people are put in powerful positions. In the eyes of the law, every citizen of this country is equal. But as Orwell said in Animal Farm, these people are more equal than others.

Their solemn duty is to protect criminals -- from murderers to rapists -- from the law of the land by using their influence. How can the police be efficient and protect law and order in the country while they are in constant fear of these heavyweights?

We need to recognise the reality that our police force is faced with when we judge them. Blaming only the police will not solve the problem.

There is no denying that members of our police force are not properly trained. Once our car got stuck in the middle of a London street; from nowhere, two police officers came running and helped us push the car to the side of the street.

We cannot expect things like this in Bangladesh. Police think that their only duty is to beat up people when orders come from the high-ups. Except this duty, they do not know what their other duties and responsibilities are. They should be taught during their training that their first and foremost duty is to serve the people.

The whole police force is constantly being accused for its failure to protect the victims of the sexual assault on Pohela Boishakh; the police are denying the occurrence of any such incident with equal vehemence. We cannot blame the entire police force for the untoward acts or inactions of a few members of the force. There are dirty officers even in the police forces of developed countries.

If we stop blaming the whole police force and the government for what has happened, then they will stop denying the incident, and will eagerly go to catch the culprits, which is what we want. Otherwise, we will be stuck in this vicious cycle of blaming and denying.

During violent hartal days, when we go out of our house for a few hours, our family members worry about our safety. How must the members of the police-families feel when their dear ones spend the whole day on-duty out in the streets, facing brick-bats and bombs being hurled?

The incessant political chaos in the country is not their making. But they are the ones to bear the brunt of the political violence. Few are aware that during hartal days, they work 14 to 16 hours a day.      

People must not dread the police or any other law enforcment agency. Law-abiding people should respect and love them; criminals are the ones who should dread them. In order for our police force to be efficient, it needs to be freed from the bondage of unscrupulous influential people. 

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