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119 killed in 12 days

Mixed reaction over anti-drug crackdown

By bdnews24.com
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People from different walks of life expressed their concern over the killings of suspected drug dealers in 'shootouts' with law-enforcement agencies.
At least 119 people involved in drug dealing have been killed in 'shootouts' over the last 12 days since the law enforcement agencies including police and the Rapid Action Battalion began their crackdown following a directive from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Human rights organisations in the country raised questions over the killings following complaints from the deceased's families. The BNP has expressed its concern over the possibility of its leaders and activists falling prey to such 'shootouts.'
Concern runs deep over the possibility of "innocent person getting killed due to misinformation," when it comes to 'shootouts.'
Rahat Rafi, a Bangladeshi student at Deutsche Welle International Media Studies, said: "If the war against drug turns into a war against people, it will lose its social acceptance."
On the other hand, government high-ups including the prime minister and the home minister supported law-enforcement agencies' action, criticising those who spoke against the drive on drugs.
Almost all the people interviewed by bdnews24.com in the city said they support the drive to curb drug peddling but have questioned the deaths.
"We have always followed the motto 'hate the sin, not the sinner' but it seems they want to destroy both the sin and the sinner," said Tuhin Wadud, a teacher at Rangpur Begum Rokeya University.
He reminded the state of its duty towards those killed in shootouts saying it is totally against humanity to kill someone in the name of 'crossfire'.
"Why are they not opting for a judicial trial instead of unlawful killings when we have all the aspects needed to establish the order of law in a sovereign country?"
Many of those interviewed focused on controlling drug trafficking in border areas while some added their accomplices within the administration should be taken to task too.
"We need to strengthen the coast guard to monitor the routes; it won't bring any benefit with these drives throughout the country when the routes are not controlled," said Mahmud Hasan, a bank official.
Most of the people bdnews24.com spoke to stressed the need for punishing drug dealers under the law.
"Drug trafficking cannot be solved this way; when we have a judiciary, we better use it," said Razia Sultana, a private company official.
Although many people stressed the need for implementing the law, some of them mentioned the lengthy legal process as a hindrance.
"Thousands of drug dealers selling yaba tablets were arrested over the last few years but they went back to their business within few months after getting bail," said Advocate Asif Al Amin.
Cases drag on as witnesses never show up and evidence is never collected leading the case to go dormant, he said.
A special tribunal for drug cases or bringing the drug cases under 'Speedy Trial Act' would have provided a permanent solution, the lawyer said.
"Crossfire can never be an option."
"You need to take an immediate measure when something goes beyond control. The law never supports crossfire but it has become the worst solution to such social problems."

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