Trader’s death in Gazipur: How many have to die in police custody?

Gazipur's Bason police station came up with one lie after another to cover up a crime. A trader named Rabiul Islam died after police took him into custody. But in the case filed by the police, it was said that his death was caused by a road accident. Rabiul's brother Mohidul Islam has been made the plaintiff in this case. But Mahidul said he did not know anything about the case.

According to the media, Bason police arrested four people including yarn trader Rabiul Islam (45) of Gazipur's Bhogra Bypass Payarabagan area on charges of online gambling and drug dealing. The other three were released in exchange of money when Rabiul’s relatives alleged that he was tortured to death as he refused to pay any money.

Locals protested by blocking the highway on Wednesday morning. Two Assistant Sub-Inspectors (ASIs) of Bason police station have been withdrawn in connection with the alleged torture and death of the trader. Senior officials are interrogating them. Besides, the Gazipur Metropolitan Police has formed a three-member committee over this incident.

After Rabiul's death, the three cases were filed at Bason police station including two cases for vandalising police boxes, burning a motorcycle and obstructing police work. The plaintiff in this case is the police. We have nothing to say about this case. But how can they establish a case about which the plaintiffs themselves have no idea about? How can possibly a man hale and hearty picked up by the police from his home die in a road accident on his way back from the police station?

Why didn’t the police hand over his body to his family when they went to the police station? There is enough reason to think that Rabiul Islam died in police torture. Death in custody is also a form of extrajudicial killing. If the police think that the accused have committed a punishable crime, why did not they send him to court?

Two ASIs have been withdrawn as Bason police station is responsible for the death of Rabiul. It has also been seen in the past that when any law enforcement member is accused of serious offence, he is withdrawn or closed from duty. It is only a strategy to protect the perpetrator. Gazipur Metropolitan Police Commissioner said that necessary action will be taken based on the report of the inquiry committee. Question remains if the truth will ever come out as the committee is formed with metropolitan police officials and the accused ASIs are deployed in a station under the same metropolitan police. The matter needs to be looked into by a judicial inquiry committee. Several human rights organisations have also made similar demands.

Earlier, several allegations were made that Bason police are involved in extortion and harassment of innocent people. Because the authorities did not pay heed to those allegations, tragic incidents like the death of the trader in police custody occurred.

Although the number of deaths in alleged gunfights in the country has decreased, deaths in police custody are still rampant. It indicates no sign of improvement in the human rights situation at all. How many more deaths we will witness in police custody?