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Extra-judicial killings on rise

46 killed this year, 208 last year

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Despite widespread criticisms from the international community, the incidents of extrajudicial killings in the name of "gunfights" are on the rise.
According to rights watchdog Ain O Salish Kendra, at least 46 people have reportedly been killed at the hands of law enforcers in the last one and a half months (January 1 to February 16).
Of them, 15 were killed by RAB, 22 by police, one by RAB and police, one by BGB and 16 others by the joint forces.
Such killings first surfaced in 2004, after the formation of the elite crime fighting force RAB (Rapid Action Battalion). In 2005 and 2006, at least 739 people were killed in such incidents.
At that time, then opposition party Awami League criticised the BNP-Jamaat government and asserted that they would stop "crossfire" incidents by law enforcers if assumed power. But in 2009, at least 229 people were killed this way.
The incidents of crossfire or extrajudicial killings were on the decline after 2006 and it came down to 91 in 2012.
According to ASK, 210 people were killed in 2004; 377 in 2005; 362 in 2006; 180 in 2007; 175 in 2008; 133 in 2010; 100 in 2011. However, last year, "crossfire" got a new name, "gunfight", when around 208 people were killed.
Over the last 10 years, a good number of people were allegedly picked up by law enforcement agencies and were never found again. Rights activists say the incidents of crossfire suddenly increased centring on the 10th national election held on January 5. Prof Mizanur Rahman, chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, has said that the incidents have risen alarmingly in recent times. These go against the rule of law and democracy, and are in no way acceptable. "Those responsible for such criminal acts must be given capital punishment to stop this practice," he said. "The law enforcers are on alert about such practice and they have successfully solved such cases by arresting the criminals," he said. About the involvement of law enforcers in the extrajudicial killings in the name of gunfights, police chief Hassan Mahmood Khandker said action would follow investigation if any allegations were proved based on evidence. According to allegations, most crossfire incidents are nothing but a plot and are one-sided. The police versions of these incidents follow a standard pattern leading to questions about their veracity.
In most cases, individuals identifying themselves as police, RAB or DB officials pick up people. Students, politicians, businesspersons and opposition leaders are on the list of missing.
Sometimes their bodies are found and sometimes they disappear completely. The law enforcers issue press statements claiming that the deceased person had been a criminal, a proposition found to be false in certain cases. The law enforcers also claim that they have to open fire in self-defence since the detainee's cohorts launch armed attacks on them.

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