Benazir's past tirades against corruption...

Caricature of Benazir Ahmed

Nothing gets lost in this digital age. Everything is just a click away. And so it was easy to listen, over YouTube, to the motivational speeches made in the past by the former inspector general of police (IGP) Benazir Ahmed. On 31 December 2019, while the director general of RAB, he said at an event, there can be no compromise with militants, drugs and corruption.

Another statement made by Benazir a couple of years after that is even more inspiring. Addressing a reception for new recruits of the police force (14 June 2021), he declared 'jihad' against corruption. He said, "I want you 1300 young members of the police to declare jihad against corruption."

And all the while that Benazir Ahmed was spewing out such inspiration, he knew that he was buying plots of land all over the place without government permission, he was building resorts, and using RAB and police personnel to work on those resorts. He even used false information in his passport. Though a senior police officer, he got his passport issued as a private service employee. This is an offence according to the government service rules as well as the passport act.

Former IGP Benazir and his family established the Savanna Eco Resort and Natural Park, forcefully buying the land from the minority community in Gopalganj Sadar upazila

Benazir Ahmed was appointed as the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Commissioner on 14 October 2010. According to a report published in the daily Jugantor on 3 June, 'Travelling the world on false identity', on that very day the Department of Immigration and Passports issued him a renewed passport (machine readable passport or MRP) as a private sector service holder. Just three days before that Benazir has applied for his passport to be renewed.

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The Jugantor report said that the renewed passport's expiry date had been 13 October 2015. Before it expired, he renewed his passport as a private sector service holder.

While the director general of RAB, Benazir Ahmed once again renewed his passport as a private sector service holder in 2016. The passport office at the time, however, did object. They sent a letter to the RAB headquarters too. In reply, the additional director general (administration) Abdul Jalil Mandal sent a letter requesting that Benazir's passport be issued immediately. Within 24 hours  Benazir was given his passport. Passport office staff went to his home to take his photograph and collect his fingerprints for the purpose.

When asked whether it was a violation of the regulations for Benazir Ahmed to get a passport as a private service holder, expert on public service rules Firoz Miah said that this is concealing information which is a misdemeanour according to public service rules and a criminal offence. Cases can be filed against both the person to whom the passport is issued and also those who issued the passport. There is also scope for cases and departmental action against those still in service.

The Jugantor reporter said that the passport office did not send any rejoinder to the report published in the newspaper. So it may be taken that there are no discrepancies in the report.

According to the Section 11 of the Bangladesh Passport Order, if anyone knowingly furnishes any false information or suppresses any fact with a view to obtaining a passport or travel document, this will be an offence punishable with a maximum six-month prisons sentence or two thousand taka fine.

When I retire, I want to see the police force in the place what I have tried to be as a police officer over the past 32 years. I have motivated my colleagues to follow the same path
Benazir Ahmed, former IGP

It should not become a norm for there to be laws, but without the laws being applied, while the people continuously dole out taxes for the salaries, allowances and running costs of the government institutions, law enforcement agencies, the cabinet and the judiciary to be paid. Presently for every 100 taka in the government's budget, around 25 taka is spent on public administration. Meanwhile, we pay over 42 taka in duty when we buy a kg of sugar. Whatever development has been carried out is mostly done on loan.

When he was director general of RAB, on 31 December 2019 Benazir Ahmed had said, "There can be no compromise against corruption and militancy. They (the corrupt and the militants) will leave. We will stay." Benazir Ahmed and family have left the country.

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During Benazir's farewell reception from the police force, the DMP commissioner at the time, Shafiqul Islam, had said we should not make comparisons but just as the nation feels the absence of the Father of the Nation, the police force will feel the absence of Benazir Ahmed.

An interview of Benazir Ahmed was published on 24 July 2020 in Samakal. The last question has been, when you go on retirement, where do you want to see the police? He replied, "When I retire, I want to see the police force in the place what I have tried to be as a police officer over the past 32 years. I have motivated my colleagues to follow the same path."

Will the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) look into who in the police force have been inspired by Benazir Ahmed's "motivation"?

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