‘Bangladesh’s drugs war creating atmosphere of terror’

Staff Correspondent | Update:

The on-going anti-narcotics crackdown in which at least 50 accused drug traffickers were killed in the past week has created atmosphere of terror, London based newspaper Guardian said in a report.  

Activists fear this drive could escalate into a Philippines-style campaign of mass extrajudicial killings, said the report published on Friday. 

It further said that  questions are already being raised about some of those killed in the campaign against the “drug menace”.

It said that one family told the newspaper that their relative was an opposition political activist who never touched drugs.

“They and another family say their relatives were last seen being taken into police custody hours before being found dead in what authorities are characterising as nighttime shootouts with criminal gangs,” reads the report.

The report said, Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina says the campaign will match the intensity of an earlier crackdown on Islamic militancy that left dozens of accused radicals dead.

It said that one of those killed was Amzad Hossain, who police say was gunned down early on Tuesday after leading police to a drug hideout in Netrokona town in northern Bangladesh.

The report quotes Amzad’s brother  Mahid Ahamed Ansari as saying that Amzad had no connection to the narcotics trade, claiming police had violently raided their home hours before the alleged shootout.

“During the surprise raid police beat up my brother badly…The charge that he sold drugs is completely baseless. They killed him just because he was a popular activist of the student wing of the [opposition] BNP,” Ansari was quoted as saying in the report. 

The report quoted Ansari as saying that the cases against his brother were part of a campaign of harassment against opposition political activists in the lead up to national elections later this year.

The report quoted Human Rights Watch South Asia director Meenakshi Ganguly as saying : “Considering that one minister has proposed shooting addicts and the prime minister has compared this effort to ending Islamic militancy, there is concern that security forces will once again operate without proper accountability and oversight.”

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