Police must show efficiency to make life safe, not harass others

08 March 2016 Editorial Desk

Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP)'s move to collect personal information of house owners and tenants has caused panic among many city dwellers fearing unanticipated harassment and misuse of information for other purposes to endanger one's safety of life. DMP Commissioner Asaduzzaman Miah has however assured the city dwellers that no one will be unduly harassed.
As it appears the move has created serious misgivings opening debate whether police can seek such information that may eventually endanger citizens' life. Human rights activists say police can't do that, there is no law as such to demand personal information and it must stop. It is every citizen's right to maintain secrecy of his/her personal life as provided under the Constitution. In fact a lawyer has already filed a writ to the High Court on Thursday challenging the legality of the move. He has also sent legal notice requesting the government to refrain from collecting the information while seeking the court's direction to stop use of any information already collected from house owners and tenants.
DMP officials are however claiming that it is legal obligation for all citizens to assist police by giving information; which are helpful to identify criminals and prevent crimes when many criminals are hiding in rented houses in false names and with false address. Militants are also using rented hideouts and such information will help to unearth their presence. The one-page form, has therefore called for information about tenants, including date of birth, phone, national ID and passport numbers and photographs. It also demands information about housemaids and drivers.  
The DMP is trying to justify the access to personal information of city dwellers showing that combating growing militancy and criminal activities in the city needs such access to personal information. But when such law is not in place to demand access to personal information that curbs personal safety, people wonder why the DMP is not using all other ways without making intrusion to people's personal secrecy.
In the overall situation of harassing innocent public by everybody in power including police, such a move by the police asking the landlords, owners of the residential houses to supply detailed particulars of tenants is not permissible. This is seen as a vicious political move and police is being politically used. Our considered view is that police must remain above politics and do its best to make life easy and safe for the general public.

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