It’s the same criminals time and again

Mohammad Parvez, a member of the tourist police, caught a mugger who was fleeing after snatching valuables from tourists in Laboni Point of Cox’s Bazar sea beach on 23 July 2013. The mugger stabbed the policeman and fled. The next day Mohammad Parvez succumbed to his injuries in hospital. The mugger, Abu Taher, served five years in jail in a case over the killing of the policeman. He was released from jail in May this year and allegedly was involved in yet another murder on 16 August.

According to police, like Abu Taher, who got involved in crime at 13, Rubel Chowkidar from Dhaka’s Sabujbag was engaged in crimes since his teens. Hardly 25 years old, Rubel Chowkidar faces 12 cases or narcotics, theft and mugging and he has been arrested several times. He, too, gets involved in crime after walking out of jail on bail.

The police’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) records show there are about 10,000 criminals in the country like Abu Taher and Rubel Chowkidar. Analysis of CID’s database on criminals’ fingerprint shows these criminals have been carrying out various crimes and getting arrested repeatedly.

Police said Abu Taher faces 10 cases including three arms cases, three narcotics and three theft cases, with various police stations of Cox’s Bazar. The latest case he faced was over a murder. Abu Taher, according to police, killed Shajahan Shezan, son of Cox’s Bazar municipality’s ward 11 councillor Noor Mohammad, on 16 August this year following a rift over drug dealing. The CID arrested Abu Taher from Savar on 24 August this year. He has been arrested four times over the past 23 years and simply steps back into crime after being released from jail on bail.

Officials at the CID said 70 per cent of these 10,000 criminals committing crimes repeatedly are from Dhaka city and the remaining 30,000 ones are from other parts of the county. They get arrested, secure bail, walk out of jail and then commit crimes all over again. Records of the police headquarters show 70 to 80 per cent of cases filed across the country are related to narcotics.

According to the CID, it had the fingerprints of 230,000 criminals preserved on its database as of last September. Sources said fingerprints of 2,000-2,500 new criminals are added to the CID’s database every month although it has dropped slightly during the coronavirus pandemic.

Additional commissioner (detective branch) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police AKM Hafiz Akhter told Prothom Alo more narcotic cases are filed in Dhaka than elsewhere in the country. About 70 per cent of cases in Dhaka city are of narcotics, he added.

Committing crimes after getting out on bail

Detectives of Dhaka Metropolitan Police arrested Md Sayed alias Sylheti, ringleader of a readymade garments theft gang, on 17 September this year. Sayed faces 24 cases with various police stations across the country. He had been in jail for eight months in a case too.

Recently, law enforcement agencies arrested several criminals. Of them, Suman of Narayanganj’s Sonargaon faces three mugging cases in Narayanganj and Dhaka, Farhad of Dhaka’s Sabujbag is accused in three narcotics cases, Shahjahan of Dhaka’s Kafrul faces five mugging and narcotics cases and Atikul Islam of Savar faces five cases including three narcotics cases.

Police officials said all of them have been arrested previously several times. They serve in jail and then get out on bail and commit crimes again.

Easily identified by fingerprints

According to sources at the CID’s forensic department, fingerprints of the accused were preserved manually until 2014. After that, fingerprints are saved using automatic finger identification system software.

Records of the CID show, fingerprints of about 10,000 accused have been matched several times at its databases. This means these criminals have been arrested repeatedly, according to the CID officials.

CID said police collect fingerprints whenever an accused is arrested in any police station in the country. Besides, the CID’s crime scene unit also collected fingerprints. And, case details including name and addresses of the accused are saved in the police’s crime data management system (CDMS) software. Fingerprints collected from victims’ body and crime scene are matched with the fingerprints from database to identify the criminals.

Additional superintendent of police (forensic lab of CID) AKM Mustafizur Munir told Prothom Alo fingerprints play an important role to solve the mystery of many crimes including cases with no visible clues. It has been useful to identify the criminals. Other units and agencies of the police along with the CID are using the database of fingerprints to investigate cases and make arrests.

Bail due to lack of proper investigation

Former inspector general of police (IGP) Nur Mohammad told Prothom Alo, “If evidence is not presented to the court properly, an accused will obviously get bail. Charges would not be accepted unless investigation is conducted properly. Had the investigation of cases been conducted duly, the accused would not secure bail in such a way.” The same persons have been committing crimes time and again because of the delay in justice, he observed.

Supreme Court lawyer and law teacher at University of Asia Pacific, Shahdeen Malik echoed the former police chief. Shahdeen Malik told Prothom Alo, “Police point to the involvement of the accused in the crime but fail to present adequate information even in three to six months. Will the accused simply languish in jail while they take so long to find the facts? These are the reasons for bail being granted.”

“Police must present evidence in court though after proper investigation to prevent bail and to to ensure punishment of the criminals,” he added.

This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Hasanul Banna