Police are law enforcers and not users of brute force12 May 2015 Editorial Desk
The excesses that our police force are resorting to on unarmed people needs to be properly investigated departmentally for its implications on police discipline and public reaction. The national dailies and electronic media during the last two days produced footages of disturbing police action in the streets on students of Dhaka University. The students had tried to gather in front of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Commissioner Office to protest police failure to make public the identity of the perpetrators of Pahela Baishakh sexual assault on women on Dhaka University campus and why they are not arresting the culprits. Meanwhile, many believe that the silence of the ruling party backed students in protesting the assault is indicative of complicity of some of their men in the assault.
Media reports said about a hundred protesters under the banner of left students organizations came under police attack near Officers Club at Minto Road crossing on Sunday when DMP police laid siege on them from all sides. Then they beat them with truncheons and rifle butts while female protesters were kicked and knocked to the ground as they were screaming to save them from baton wielding policemen. Protesters were dispersed at the end leaving 34 students seriously injured and six arrested. Women were assaulted again in the city streets.
People wonder with all justifications as to why police have failed so far to nab the perpetrators of sexual assault despite the presence of at least 22 CCTV camera around the TSC where the incident had taken place. Police had earlier installed them to keep watch on mischief-makers. Why is then the camera footages are not enough to nab the culprits? In fact, it was noticeable from the beginning that police were reluctant to agree that women were molested on that occasion because, agreeing to it would mean to agree that they had failed in their duties. Now when the students took to the streets demanding police accountability, they were brutally booted and battoned to silent their voice.
A writ was moved with the High Court on Monday challenging police brutality on female activists and demanding necessary step on the policemen responsible for the assault.
It is not appreciated that one will rush to the court asking police conduct to be looked into. The Supreme Court does not find it easy to go deep into the matter. It is the government, more particularly, the police administration to maintain police as a disciplined force working in public interest. The breakdown of discipline in police will be a problem for the people as well as the government. Police should be tactful and intelligent to know how to handle a tumultuous situation without risking the reputation of the police. It would have been justified in arresting the extreme few in the police way.
What is worrying is that police has been politicised to look at problems politically forgetting that they are the law enforcers on behalf of the people and not a force against the people. The police must learn to show maximum restraint even in the face of provocation. That is called police training that justifies to call them law enforcers and not users of brute force. We know there are elements in any big gathering who look for opportunities to provoke the police.