Narcotics cases: When will investigations to shirk responsibilities stop

EditorialProthom Alo illustration

The Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) arrested a drug trader, Tarek Mahmud, two years ago. The organisation identified him as the kingpin of a dreadful ice trading gang. But he was acquitted from the Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate court on 6 March due to lack of required witness and evidence.

According to the case statement, Tarek Mahmud was arrested from a flat on the second floor of a building in Baridhara, Dhaka, on 9 September in 2021. Five grams of ice was also recovered from his room at that time. According to this confessional statement, 100 yaba tablets were recovered from a car parked at the garage. DNC sub-inspector (SI) Sajjad Hossain filed a case with the Gulshan police station in this regard.

How could the person, who is the kingpin of a dreadful ice trading gang in the eyes of the narcotics control department, get released? What is the mystery behind this?

An analysis of the case documents revealed that the charge sheet was submitted after carrying out an investigation carelessly. Afterwards, five witnesses including the investigation officer did not appear at the court for deposition during the trial. As a result, the accused was acquitted. Only the plaintiffs in the case, SI Sajjad Hossain and ASI Ziaur Rahman testified at the court.

The trial of a case is held on the basis of information and evidence. The judge is unable to do anything if the investigation officer (IO) and witnesses cannot present due information and evidence. This is also surprising that the DNC did not appeal after the accused had been released. This suggests they have accepted the IO’s careless investigation.

This is not the only case where an accused in a narcotics case is released for the first time. Most of the accused are not brought to book.

According to a newspaper report on 11 December, perpetrators are being punished only in 37 per cent of the cases filed by the Department of Narcotics Control.This is happening due to negligence in the investigation, not seizing drugs properly and either absence or indifference of witnesses. Illegal drug trade has not decreased in the country despite stringent anti-narcotics operations in 2018. Ninety per cent of drugs enter Bangladesh from Myanmar. It is a big question how the narcotics enter Bangladesh despite keen patrolling of the members of Border Guard Bangladesh and Coast Guard along the border.

Though the reports of seizing narcotics from different spots and arrest of drug traders are regularly published in newspapers, we don’t know what happens afterwards.

Police detain only the drug carriers during operations. But the drug lords behind the curtains remain out of touch. They also influence the cases in various ways.

The investigators are neither trying to find out the persons at the source level of the drugs, nor the persons to whom the drugs are being supplied. As a result, the masterminds behind the drug trade always remain behind the curtain.

Spread of drugs could not be controlled despite the deaths of several hundred people in the name of anti-drug operations. The incident above makes that clear. The members of law enforcing agencies complete their duties by arresting the accused.

The entry of narcotics has to be stopped first to prevent the spread of drugs across the country. The drug lords from behind the curtains also have to be arrested and brought to book. It has to be ensured that the members of law enforcing agencies are not spared for carrying out investigations just to shirk their responsibilities. The tendency of filing trumped up cases against the innocent people after keeping yaba tablets into their pockets also has to be stopped.