POLICE CORRUPTION IN BANGLADESH
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Officers-in-charge of 22 Dhaka Metropolitan Police stations protect criminals in return for hefty amounts of cash, said a government intelligence agency in its recent report. The officers also take money from owners of hotels, guesthouses and even apartments regularly and allow them to carry on anti-social and criminal activities. The home ministry assigned the agency to investigate the cause of a steady law and order downslide in the metropolitan area. "The assignment came after a series of government steps to improve law and order proved ineffective," an intelligence official involved in the investigation tells New Age. The agency had monitored the movement of the police officers over the past one month and prepared the report.
The report, submitted to the home ministry a few weeks ago, recommended that the officers-in-charge should be transferred, and departmental and legal actions be taken against them and their associates immediately. The intelligence agency has cited specific instances of the police officers taking money from criminals in the report. The report also contains names and places where the transactions took place. The police pick up innocent people with the consent of the officers-in-charge, keep them in custody and only release them when they pay, the report says. Otherwise, the detainees are sent to court under the Dhaka Metropolitan Act 100/86. Drug peddlers remain beyond the arms of the law through payment to the officers, adds the report. Traders at different shopping complexes and business establishments are forced to pay and so are roadside vendors. The intelligence agents have found many officers-in-charge chatting with criminals, who are listed as wanted by their respective police stations, at night.
They have also found many officers realise money from a number of vehicles by setting up check posts at different parts of the capital. The report says the officers tip off criminals through their informants before any anti-crime drive so that they have enough time to go underground. The officers allow all kinds of illegal activities in return for money, it says. "They also have links with organised burglars who pay them regularly."
An officer of the intelligence agency tells New Age that there is no doubt that the officers-in-charge are primarily responsible for the failure in government initiatives to improve law and order in the capital. "Any step to improve the law and order will be worthless as long as the officers provide shelter to criminals and allow them to carry on with their activities." The law and order situation will remain unchanged unless honest officers take over from the corrupt ones at the police stations, he says. Another officer of the intelligence agency says the government should take quick action against the officers-in-charge of the police stations. "It is the officers-in-charge who can improve the situation simply by discharging their duties."
(New Age, 10. 07. 04)
Sole objective of the police sergeants is to take money from the bus drivers
The police 'inspection' rises as the Eid approaches nearer, but this year the collection is crossing all limits because of the financial hardships that we all underwent (floods, high price of essentials…). Now at 'strategic city points' there are some four or five sergeants instead of the usual one sergeant. And even the custom of inspection in case of the violation of 'unconventional norms' has become null and void. They are charging the bus drivers at will. "Ami ki wrong korlam?" (What wrong have I done?) is a plea that is falling this Eid season on deaf ears.
Bus drivers also say that besides the 'strategic points,' new points have been set up by the sergeants. Even we, the passengers, sometimes have to sympathise with the unfortunate bus drivers who get 'caught' twice or thrice in the span of some ten to fifteen minutes. The sole objective of the police sergeants is to take money from the bus drivers, so they are least interested in controlling the traffic (Daily Star, November 8, 2004).
Once again an incident took place in the metropolis in which four dacoits were beaten to death and three others were injured as they faced the wrath of common citizens. The dacoits raided the house of a businessman at six in the morning of Tuesday (November 2, 2004). Because of the failure of the police to chase and apprehend dacoits and terrorists they are now being chased by the crowds and the criminals are beaten to death.
Ordinary citizens now think that these dacoits may entice the policemen through bribes and secure their freedom, or they may obtain bail from the courst and later escape with much of their booty. And incidentally, on this occasion, despite the hue and cry and the chase organised by people in the neighbourhood, police patrols were not in evidence near the scene of the crime.
Taking of law into the hands of the public can never be condoned. Yet such incidents demonstrate the lack of confidence in the due processes of law by the people. As has been said by many political stalwarts since 1971, the people of our country are satisfied with very little. While some progress in economic development has been achieved, the law and order situation is still at its lowest ebb. Claims of past governments and the present one about improvement of the situation are not borne out by facts. The government should ensure law and order to prevent crimes and speedy justice so that people's confidence in police administration is restored (Editorial, The Independent, November , 2004).
Three incidents of mugging in Gulshan area—all the victims being foreign nationals, including the Norwegian ambassador to Bangladesh—have given rise to more questions than they can answer. Such incidents do not occur without a tacit or otherwise mutual agreement between the muggers and the police. The latter too are a beneficiary of the booties.
The incidents after all find their connection to the country's image question our leaders often love to refer to. So, the lower ranked policemen had to be sacrificed and there was the urgency to prove efficiency of the department. We feel that the police are not solely to blame for this situation. Their pay packages, facilities, training etc. are not commensurate with the service they are asked to give. Above all, the political interference hinders their performance. Nothing short of a reform can take care of the situation. Ideally they should be allowed to function independently as a unit. A committee comprising eminent judges, lawyers and civil rights leaders should be charged with the responsibility of reforming the police that will be pro-people and patriotic instead of a corrupt organ of the state or the parties in power (Editorial, Bangladesh Observer, November 29, 2004).
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