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Ansar VDP Recommendations For Reformation

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Dr. Forqan Uddin Ahmed :
Bangladesh Ansar organization came into being in 1948. After partition in 1947, it was felt to organize a voluntary organization after the name of Ansar in Madina. Accordingly, the Ansar members have been selected and enrolled based on the relatively rich people in high society. There is a social responsibility of the rich people to support their neighbors, who are actually in need. All Muslims are supposed to follow it as a mandatory subject as it has been directed through the holy Quran. The erstwhile East Pakistan was created on the concept of two nation's theory. The then Pakistani ruler representing a Muslim country in the world decided to setup a volunteer structured group and gave it to a shape of institution as Ansar organization. But this couldn't establish institutionally in Saudi Arab. This volunteer organization today has become a the biggest voluntary force in Bangladesh. During the regime of General Ziaur Rahman, Ansar organization has been made Cadre named as BCS Ansar Cadre. During his time, a new wing has been developed named as VDP wing. The full name is Village Defense Party. This name could be village development policing instead of defense. However, names do not matter. Be it defense or development - both these have their positive meaning and bear good explanation and connotation. Sometimes, it is called the second line defense force - as the status is given by law. Actually, it was not done on franchise or enacted by law. Because, making a Para-military force money involvement is very high. Considering its expensive condition, it has been given a status, which is half-civil and half-military. From these mixtures, people are ignorant of it. Again, they are not clear whether it is a civil or a military. But it's a fact that no country in the world can serve with so a cheap allocated money, though there are merits and demerits from service point of view. Today, volunteer concept has been changed. People are not willing to serve without any remuneration or incentive. The organization dilemma today has become acute. So there remains agony, suspension, depression, pain and deprivation in the organization. Even there are mistrusts and misunderstandings among the organizational members. On different occasions, the reformative proposals have been sent to ministry. Every time these proposals have been turned down and regretted from ministry. It never reached honorable Prime Minister's doorsteps. No summary was yet made on such proposals to promote the department or to solve the problems of disparities in comparison to other departments. Moreover it is the bureaucratic problem for which this Ansar VDP is not in a projected framework of government.
 Previously, these projected proposals were opposed sometimes from Police side and sometimes from Army. There are others also who raise their voice of protests for the promotional activities of Ansar VDP. It is evident that the members in the organization have not any service complacence. They always pass the time in the midst of ego, complexes and shakiness. As if they belong to other world of administration. The very colonial mentality among the officers and others have developed within a very short time of their joining in the department. It is because that this force is administered and commanded by army officials. In the top echelon of the organization, there are military officers and in the down, there are the cadre service officials. So there is conflict of interest and as a result there are mistrusts and misunderstandings in between. Finally, the officers from the lower strata do suffer. In this context, we can say that the tragic 1994 incident was happened in the name of mutiny. This caused for violence, pressure, suppression, dissatisfaction and non-complacence in service. These were not properly taken care of by the authority and after long deprivation, this tragic incident happened. Actually, it was named a rebellion. As a matter of fact, it was the voice for the rights and just against violation and violence by the authority. In the incident, about 2500 innocent battalion Ansar members were sacked from their jobs and 15 cadre officials were put under suspension and even taken to the police custody for which till they are suffering. At present there are problems of the battalion soldiers embodied Ansar and even the officers also. They all are suffering for not having the due rights and privileges. Moreover, there are disparities in salary and ration scale structures in comparison to Police, BGB and others. At present, the way the Bangladesh Ansar VDP has been run and its activities are focused - that is only for survival sake. The members in the grass route level of administration are not properly treated. Every officer in the upazilla belong to class 1 status. Only Ansar VDP and cooperative officers don't have that status. They are maltreated and they are to face very shaky social status and position. In the face of many oppositions and negligence, it is not possible to overcome the shackle or vicious chain. The organization is being run with mercy from somebody.
Under the above circumstances, it requires reformation and revitalization of the force, which is meant meaningful, otherwise these department may be abolished. For the above proposal, the necessary recommendations and suggestions are depicted as follows:
1. Ansar VDP may be reformed by giving a specific rules and responsibilities. At present, it is auxiliary in nature when only they are embodied by government order for Puja duty or Election duty. They do the duty under police command. Moreover, they do policing by attachment in police station or camp and necessary operational activities. The Ansar fellows do every work jointly but credit goes to others. In the midst of such framework of job nature, Ansar fellows are suffering from image crisis. Also there is an identity problem. So conception must be changed - if not, break it rather to save them from concept of dependence.
2. Once this organization was treated as a unit of police and the senior police officer was in the top of the organization. At present, there are many unit of police namely highway police, industry police, riot police, tourism police and even RAB is also under Police. This Ansar organization may be placed under police like RAB with the control from Police headquarters. So Ansar may be merged up with Police and with action process may start right now. VDP may also be merged up in the name of Village Development Policing. It is noted that earlier there was secretariat cadre but it was merged up with administration cadre. Again, the economic cadre is on a process to be merged up with administration cadre. Though administrative cannot be named as a different cadre or with a different identity, rather administration by connotation is a feature or characteristics.
3. The third recommendation for Ansar VDP is that it may be merged up with army as second line defense or by giving a separate name as "Gendarme" in Turkey or France. It's key control may lie in AFD (Armed Forces Division). In Turkey, the Gendarme organization works as an auxiliary unit of army but status and position isn't ignored. Gendarme officers are given the same status of Army in Turkey and they are equally treated. Our Ansar organization may deserve the position or status as Gendarme. With these above ideas, the present Ansar VDP may be given the new shape and reformation. In this regard, a commission may be formed so time has come to take steps for the reformation and rearrangement of Ansar VDP.
To improve law and order situation and to prevent terrorism, every country in the world might have a peoples' force. The conventional forces living in barracks and following traditional and conventional rules the deteriorated law and order and terrorism cannot be improved. Against all anarchy, chaos-conflict, unrest, terrorism like killing, kidnapping, hijacking, drug abuse, children and women trafficking etc., disruption of social values, the Ansar VDP members can take a very positive and pragmatic stands for the restoration of peace, tranquility, safety-security of people. To make a nation safe from terrorism, the peoples' force like Ansar VDP may be activated, well equipped and mobilized. Moreover, its members need to be involved with a definite tasking by the idea of community safety and security with the local government bodies.

(Dr. Forqan is former DDG of Bangladesh Ansar & VDP).

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