Retired army men demand a stop to ‘crossfire’

Sinha Mohammad Rashed Khan
File photo

Retired officers of Bangladesh Army have demanded stopping what the police and other law enforcement agencies call crossfire. They said this method of curbing crime creates a Frankenstein that uses crossfire in their vested interests.

The retired army officers made the demand from a media briefing organised at Retired Armed Forces Officers' Welfare Association, Bangladesh (RAOWA) Club, Dhaka on Wednesday.

They said Sinha Mohammad Rashed Khan was killed in police custody. All the forces of the country should be disciplined as per the Constitution. Everyone has to remain alert so that this incident is not used for ulterior political motives.

The former army officers demanded that the trial of the case filed for the murder of Sinha Mohammad Rashed Khan be settled at the speedy trial tribunal and the death sentence of the convicted be implemented. They also demanded all of the accused, including Teknaf police station officer-in-charge Pradip Kumar Das, be arrested and sent to jail, the superintendent of police in Cox’s Bazar be withdrawn, security of all the witnesses of the case be ensured, a separate ministry like other countries be formed to ensure safety and respect of retired army officers, and also reforms in the police force to make it a disciplined force by enacting a law to ensure accountability as per the Constitution.

Deaths in extrajudicial killing in Bangladesh is on the rise. How could a police inspector decide who is to live and who is to die! Where is the law, where is the court?
Retired lieutenant colonel Mahmudur Rahman Chowdhury

The former army officers said they would meet the president and the prime minister to press home the demands.

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Following the death of former major Sinha Mohammad Rashed Khan in what police called a gunfight in Teknaf, Cox’s Bazar on 31 July, the retired army officers held a meeting from 10:30am to 1:30pm on Wednesday. Later, they addressed a media briefing at 5:00pm.

They said Sinha had commando training. He was a member of SSF (Special Security Force), the force that ensures security of the prime minister. An SSF member requires skill to shoot objects with eight bullets in five seconds. At the same time, his integrity, patriotism, agility and family background are also checked. That is why, the police claim that Sinha brandished his firearm to take a shot aiming policemen is not credible.

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RAOWA Club chairman retired major Khandaker Nurul Afser said the negative side of curbing crimes through extrajudicial methods like ‘deaths in crossfires’ or ‘disappearance’ of people has been visible for long. Opportunists have been using the threat of crossfire or disappearance to earn money illegally and gain undue control over a locality. Most of the people do not protest those illegal acts because of weakness in rule of law.

Khandaker Nurul Afser also said the Frankenstein formed in an illegal way in Teknaf, Cox’s Bazar, has killed major Sinha in cold blood wearing the police uniform and using government arms. No civilised society can accept this.

The former major said they are peace-loving retired army members. They would take to the streets if their demands are not met.

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Responding to a question of why Sinha was wearing a commando outfit even after retirement, the RAOWA Club chairman said it was a ‘hunting out,’ not an army attire. And no one can be killed even if he wears army uniform.

Retired lieutenant colonel Mahmudur Rahman Chowdhury said, “Deaths in extrajudicial killing in Bangladesh is on the rise. How could a police inspector decide who is to live and who is to die! Then, where is the law, where is the court?”