Are police personnel being held accountable for their conduct?
Of late, the murder of Nusrat (a madrasa student who was set on fire in the broad daylight) and the role played by Moazzem (the officer-in-charge of Sonagazi model police station) in this connection has taken social media by storm.
After much roasting by the netizens and embarrassment on the part of law enforcement agencies, police finally arrested Moazzem a few days ago.
However, the fact remains the same -- the police did not act out of their professional urge, rather, Supreme Court lawyer Syedul Haque Sumon filed a case against Moazzem under the Digital Security Act, on May 15, which subsequently resulted in the later actions by the police officials.
Sooner or later, police performed its duty of arresting the rogue OC, but this arrest compels me to venture into further inquiry as to the roles of other OCs and police officials of this country.
What about them? Are they performing their duties with complete integrity, whereas Moazzem was the only instance of such insolence exhibited by police officers in and outside the police stations?
To call a spade a spade, such an unprofessional way of dealing with complaints of sexual abuse by police officers is nothing out of the ordinary.
The notion of intimidation by police is also something that is as clear as the sun in the summer sky.
According to a news report, a man named Sumon Khan tried to molest a second grader while she was making her way back home from her father’s shop.
The next day, the father, along with his daughter, went to Kafrul police station after much deliberation to file a case against the perpetrator, only to get disappointed.
On-duty Sub-Inspector Abdul Kuddus Bepari demanded money from that poor father for filing the case, adding that it was not possible to continue the filing procedures without money.
The father then, out of his sheer helplessness, gave Tk4,000 to the SI. There is no way to claim this to be an isolated incident, as every now and then we come across news like this, where incidents of filing cases in exchange for money are revealed.
Moreover, everyone knows about the ways rape or abuse victims are approached by the police officers.
Sometimes they are even interrogated by male officers, despite there being a provision that female victims should be questioned by female officers only.
But who cares about these rules and etiquettes?
Apart from this, there are many other allegations against the police, and the list ranges from framing youths with drugs to threatening cross-sections of people for money.
Just a few days ago, I got to know about an incident. According to my friend’s account of the event, a police constable stopped his teenage cousin and searched him.
Failing to recover anything from that boy, the police constable planted yaba tablets in the teenager’s pocket himself, and later threatened to implicate him falsely.
Meanwhile, the constable proposed an alternative, and demanded Tk3,000 for letting him go.
When we are talking about the problems, it will probably be appropriate to figure out the reasons behind such moral degradation.
The first reason, in my opinion, is that no punitive measures are taken against the police when such allegations are put forward.
The very few cases that hit headlines witness some kind of rebuke by the higher authorities of police.
Whenever any cop’s involvement in criminal activity is found, the high-ups immediately suspend them, at best, but they are not given any exemplary punishment.
Such negligence and indifference to act more strictly clearly indicates that the police force actually tries to hush some things up, when it is already known to all.
The second reason is, of course, more vexing. The culprit is the “politicization” of the police force. In our country, the police force is actually “used,” and the power of this force is manipulated in different ways by the government in power in a very systematic way in order to maintain control over political opponents.
This is a part and parcel of our political culture, and this is what is tarnishing the image of this force, and consequently, the people working for this force very often suffer from the impression that no one is going to do any harm to them, even if they are involved in wrongdoings.
Is there any way out of this situation? Isn’t it the right time to make other police officers and personnel like Moazzem accountable for their unprofessional behaviour?
I would like to leave these questions for the important officials of the police force, and authorities concerned, so that they can ponder over these points if their conscience lets them.
Morshedul Alam Mohabat is a journalist working in an English daily.