Police are said to be friends of the people, offering them their services. But in Bangladesh, recently the image of the police force has been tarnished due to the deluge of questionable cases they have been filing.
It had been hoped that the police would take on a more responsible role after the movement of the school and college students. In a civilised society, the police’s reputation does not depend on stringent laws or implementation of these laws. It depends on public perception. And Bangladesh’s police lag far behind in this regard. In Gazipur, the police have been charging the BNP leaders with damage of property though the leaders are not even in the country. The police have even accused a person of hurling a cocktail explosive in Chawk Bazar of the capital city though the person is not even living! People are questioning whether the police have lost their senses.
We believe that conscientious quarters within the police are remorseful, are questioning themselves. After all, lack of professionalism will weaken the police force as a whole. Of course, the ruling parties must take much of the blame for this state of the police as they use the force in their own party interests.
After the fall of Ershad’s autocratic rule, we had hoped that the police would no longer be so blatantly used for political purposes. But that was not to be. After 1990 we saw this state of affairs simply continued and the police’s image steadily sank lower.
And apprehensions have risen afresh following the manner in which the police are targetting the opposition and those with differing views. They have no qualms in violating the law. We had previously cautioned the police against harassing and arresting persons randomly in cases filed against ‘unidentified’ persons. But things have just been sliding from bad to worse.
With the election ahead, cases have been pouring in. It seems as if the main objective is to harass as many of the opposition persons as possible. The police keep such cases pending indefinitely, not coming up with the charge sheets. The investigations are not finalised. And the pressure on the judiciary is mounting with a staggering 3.3 million under trial cases. The home ministry is silent, not bothered even with explaining this situation.
The courts are now in a flurry of settling bail petitions rather than trials. Things cannot continue in this manner. It is leading to the dominance of muscle power, increasing unrest in the society. The opposition may actually be involved in violence, but each and every one has the constitutional right to be treated in a lawful manner. They cannot be deprived of their legal rights.
We note with concern the increasing number of people desperately appealing for bail. Some have left their homes, some have even fled abroad. The police must prove themselves to be unbiased. The excess of fake cases has brought their credibility into question.