Woman’s death in police custody: Investigation must be independent and credible

According to the law, it is the responsibility of the state to bring to book any people who commit crimes. But what is the remedy if the law enforcement agency members arrange the “trial” before the actual trial?

Allegations have it that a woman, Afroza Begum, wife of Abdul Jalil Molla from Nawapara, died in police custody in Abhaynagar upazila of Jashore district. She passed away around 11:00 am Sunday. The police detained her from Nawapara village around 1:30 am that day and took her to the police station.

One of the sons of Afroza Begum alleged that police beat up his mother and hanged her by tying her hair with a ceiling fan.

On the other hand, the police claimed that they recovered 30 yaba tablets from Afroza Begum’s house. Will you have to kill a person even if yaba is found in his or her possession? Isn’t there a court and law in the country?

Yaba and other drugs have been destroying society, this is undeniable. We also want total eradication of drug business and its intake. But that must be done through legal channels.

What is the necessity of the court if the law enforcement agency members take law into their own hands?

Even if the statement from the police is right, the question remains as to how a woman could die some nine hours after being detained with yaba pills. Police say she fell sick in police custody.

The question is why would the police arrest a woman in the middle of the night. Couldn’t they wait till the morning? Why didn’t they take her to a hospital immediately after she fell sick?

In May, another woman named Suraiya Begum died in custody of RAB-14 in Nandail of Netrakona. She was accused of killing his daughter-in-law. Before that, land office employee Sultana Jesmine died while undergoing treatment at a hospital after being detained by RAB in Naogaon last year.

A former upazila Jubo Dal leader died in police custody in Haripur of Thakurgaon last April. Police claimed he fell sick while being taken to the court from the police station after being detained.

The members of law enforcement have the right to question any suspect. But as per the directives of the High Court, they cannot torture any suspect physically or mentally.

The number of extrajudicial killings lessened exponentially following the visa restrictions imposed by the US. Considering that, the rise in the number of deaths in the custody of police and the RAB is obviously concerning.

According to the reports of the Human Rights Forum Bangladesh (HRFB) published in March last year, the number of extrajudicial killings in the previous four years was 791. Some 21 of them died in police custody.

Are the statements given by the police and RAB over these incidents credible? It’s hard to trust the three-member probe committee formed by the Jashore police over the incident in Abhaynagar. Truth will not be unravelled when the members of police investigate the crime committed by the police. We demand immediate measures to ensure independent and credible investigation over the deaths in police and RAB custody to bring the liable persons to book.