By Jahangir Alam Akash, Bangladesh’s elite Rapid Action Battalion continues to engage in extrajudicial killings despite Supreme Court directives to halt it. Although the court is handling the issue of extrajudicial killings, RAB does not seem to be bothered either about the judiciary or the country’s laws.
At least 13 people were killed in RAB’s custody since the court issued a suo moto order on Nov. 17, last year asking the government for an explanation into such types of killings.
According to the English langauage national newspaper of Bangladesh, The Daily Star, another murder attempt by the RAB took place in Dhaka on January 6. According to the newspaper, a gunfight between RAB personnel and a “gang of criminals’ in the city’s Naya Paltan area wounded one of the gang members.
The wounded 23-year-old Alamgir Hossain of Hizla in Barisal district was rushed to Dhaka Medical College Hospital with bullet wounds to his leg. He was later shifted to Pongu Hospital. RAB-3 officials said that acting on a tip-off they went to Culvert Road at Naya Paltan around 12:30 a.m. to nab the criminals. Sensing the presence of the RAB team, the criminals opened fire on the elite force that also retaliated, triggering a gun battle. At one stage, when Alamgir was shot, his accomplices managed to flee.
And latest crossfire was happened on 12th January, 2010 in the capital Dhaka by RAB. The killed was identified as Firoz alias Kosai Firoz, 30, of Kafrul area in Mirpur (Source: the daily Star, 13th January, 2010).
But people in Bangladesh know that the above story is totally false and fabricated. They are hearing such stories since 2004. Around 1,600 peoples have been killed in crossfire, gunfights or police encounters since 2002. Last year, law enforcement agencies in the country killed a total of 145 people.
The High Court on Dec. 14, last year expressed grave concern over the recurring extrajudicial killings even as 11 people were killed in custody since the issuance of a suo moto order on Nov. 17, asking the government for an explanation on the matter.
During the court hearing, the Attorney General was asked to convey the court’s concern to the director general of RAB. The High Court also asked the Attorney General to take initiatives so that no such killings took place till the next hearing scheduled for January 9. In addition, the HC also asked the state’s top law officer for the names of RAB officials of Madaripur that were involved in detaining two brothers Lutfor and Khairul Khalasi who were killed on November 16.
When the present ruling Awami League party was in opposition, they often raised their voices against extrajudicial killings. Not only that, during the last general election, which brought them to power, they often said that extrajudicial killings should be stopped. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also told the international community that her government did not support extrajudicial killings. Indeed, the government’s attitude, work and words on this issue of crossfire are unfortunately inappropriate.
The assertions of responsible people in the present government are shocking. Home minister Sahara Khatun recently said that, there was no crossfire. It seems, either directly or indirectly, the home minister and other minister’s are defending the perpetrators of such “crossfire” killings.
We the people of Bangladesh would like to urge the government to stop all extrajudicial killings immediately. We also urge all political parties, the media and civil society to oppose any extrajudicial killings for the sake of peace.
We strongly believe that extrajudicial killings and the process of police remand are very disturbing to the society, nation and democracy and that any perpetrators should be brought to justice.
Perhaps a committee comprising of a retired justice, an assistant inspector general level police officer, the media and human rights activists and civil society representative should investigate each of the extrajudicial killings, and make the findings public.
We are struggling to make our society more civilized and democratic. So, the rule of law must be upheld. Otherwise, would there be any alternative to saying that we are civilized?