Implement the verdict quickly

Cox’s Bazar district and sessions judge Mohammad Ismail on Monday pronounced the verdict on the murder of the sensational Sinha Mohammad Rashed Khan. While the investigation of many cases has been pending for years, the completion of the trial within a year and a half is undoubtedly commendable. A retired army officer was shot dead by police at Shamlapur check post in Teknaf on Cox’s Bazar Marine Drive on 31 July, 2020. He went there to shoot for his own YouTube channel ‘Just Go’.

Former Teknaf police station OC Pradeep Kumar Das and Shamlapur police outpost inspector Liaqat Ali were sentenced to death and six others to life imprisonment. Among the convicts sentenced to life imprisonment are -- Nandadulal Rakshit, Sagar Dev and Rubel Sharma and members of various ranks of law enforcement. The other three accused worked as informants for the police.

The information that has come out of the observation of the case is alarming. Former OC Pradeep Kumar Das and his associates have killed people indiscriminately in the name of anti-drugs drive, extorting millions from many people threatening them of crossfire. Even after paying the money, many have been the victims of torture and alleged crossfire. Evidence in the case shows that OC Pradeep Kumar Das planned in advance to kill Sinha to cover up his crime. Sinha recorded many of his misdeeds by talking to local victims.

The judge observed that OC Pradeep Kumar had engaged other criminals to the conspiracy to kill Sinha. Inspector Liaqat Ali shot Sinha at the direction of OC Pradeep. Pradeep later kicked Sinha in the chest to confirm his death.

Sinha’s murder is the ghastly example of the brutality executed by a quarter of law enforcement officers. The government has declared zero tolerance against drugs. But a number of law enforcement officials have used the anti-drugs campaign as a tool for extortion and brutality. The murder of Teknaf councillor Ekramul Haque at the hands of RAB members in 2018 was also widely criticised. Although Sinha’s murder was tried, no case was filed for Ekram’s murder. After Sinha’s murder, the incidence of so-called gunfights also decreased.

Sinha’s murder has been tried in a court of law, which is a good news. But we must keep in mind that the judgment of the lower court is not the ultimate verdict. The fate of the case depends on how long it takes to settle the appeal. Sinha’s murder reminds us of the seven murders that took place in Narayanganj in 2014. There, several RAB officials acted as contract killers of a ward councillor by murdering his opponents. The accused in that case have received the maximum punishment in the lower court but the final verdict is still pending in the high court.

Pradeep and Liaqat could not divert the case to a different angle as there was a strong reaction from all quarters to the murder of former army officer Sinha. But when other people are abducted and murdered by the law enforcement agencies, cases are hindered to proceed and the judicial process is stopped in different ways. Let this culture of lawlessness end. Let every incident of so-called gunfight be properly investigated and brought to justice. We expect the verdict in the Sinha murder case will be implemented soon.