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01st-Feb-2015

Police must not be used for all purposes

By Editorial Desk

The newspaper reports confirmed that at the direction of police, the linemen of DESCO disconnected the electricity line of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia's Gulshan office on Saturday morning. Such examples do not express proper coordination among various departments of the government. At present, the police have appeared as most powerful organ of the state to serve all purpose of the government. The government side also proudly owned the police action, though the Gulshan police did not take the responsibility for action at BNP Chairperson's office.
Later in the evening under pressure from all sections, including foreign sources, the electricity connection was restored after long nineteen hours. Quite unnecessarily the government made itself unable to decide what is tenable and what is not. The government may claim that it does not care what international
community thinks about the government's treatment of the opposition or abusing police power for handling human rights. But the people of Bangladesh are not isolated from the world. The international community is with the common people. The government by own admission not a government duly elected by the people. Otherwise, the Prime Minister herself would not promise midterm election. It is sad to say how the government is depending on police and afraid to rely on people's power.
The Prime Minister already directed the superior police officials to do 'whatever needed to stop the anarchy' in the name politics. But how much it would be effective to halt the ongoing protests while it is considered as only an issue of law and order, not viewed as a deep rooted crisis in politics. The Prime Minister on Wednesday at a meeting with senior police officials marking the Police Week-2015 ordered them to take whatever steps necessary to stop the violence. Prime Minister assured she would take the responsibility for whatever happens [due to such actions].
The police superintendents, who gathered in the capital in observance of the Police Week, now returned to their respective districts with authorization to whatever they think right to suppress the opposition activists - that is, they may now be more authoritarian and harsh. As the ruling Awami League lambasted the possibility of dialogue and discussion to resolve the crisis, the opposition, however, may be depressed for a while, but the traditional wisdom indicates that the movement for democracy will not be demolished as a whole with these policy actions. Rather, when the experts, intellectuals, members of the civil society, even the foreign friends and right bodies call for a worthy step of the ruling quarters, the government is still not ready to heed to the simple solution of the problem, that is just an inclusive, free, fair and widely accepted election to ensure the people's franchise to elect their government.
On Friday, London-based global human rights watchdog the Amnesty International criticized the government for giving police carte blanche (blank card) to use excessive force amid the recent wave of horrific petrol bomb attacks during the ongoing violent political protests. The United Nations in its daily briefing on January 22 also called the Bangladesh Government to ensure that any arrests and detention of key opposition leaders by law enforcement is not arbitrary and that all measures are taken to restore law and order, and conducted in line with the parameters set by international human rights law.  Questions also aroused that the Bangladesh is now the number one peacekeeping contributing country and some of the abuses happened now in Bangladesh are very much laid at the foot of the security forces, how does this play into the UN's review of deployments?
We urge the government to allow the opposition to register their protest by holding rallies, meetings and demos. The govt should stop arresting the opposition men, filing concocted cases against them and torturing them during remand. The opposition should be allowed their democratic rights assembly and freedom of expression within the limits of the Constitution. We urge the government again to allow lawful space to the opposition, and advise the government for facing political issue politically.
As the nature of this ongoing movement is political by content and context, hence it should be addressed politically. When the opposition is not allowed to demonstrate their demands openly in public places, then they resort to other means, may be not always lawful, to compel the government for dialogue as it now happens in Bangladesh. Do the opposition has any other alternative left in the face of excesses committed by the ruling party using police power? Excessive use of police power is responsible for asking the opposition to resort to violence for not having any other peaceful way open.
We would urge the government not to abdicate its obligations to face election to show the people's acceptance. Police power is not government.