From the Editor-in-Chief: Of young protesters and police brutality

Enayetullah Khan
Thursday, July 27th, 2017
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Here is a sad truth: the young student Siddiqur Rahman could well lose vision in both eyes. Indeed, he may already have gone blind after the ferocity with which the police pounced on a demonstration of students demanding a schedule for their examination recently. In a country where students have been noted for their protests against examinations being held on schedule, these students from seven different colleges were doing something refreshingly remarkable. They were asking that their examinations be held on time. They were demanding that the authorities come out of their state of indifference. And they were doing that in Shahbagh in the city, before the National Museum.

 

It was then that the police, absolutely unprovoked, pounced on them. The fury with which the police made the assault left many badly injured. The tear gas shells exploded close to the students, leaving Siddiqur Rahman badly wounded in his eyes. But, of course, the police have not acknowledged their fault. They have even suggested that it was the flower vases thrown at the police by the agitating students which caused injuries to Siddiqur’s eyes. There has been no sign of any contrition from them. What has happened instead is that they have filed cases against 1200 unnamed persons in a manner that is as bizarre as it is laughable. It is an attitude we condemn and people in the police department and the Home Ministry must take responsibility for such excesses by the law enforcers. The irony is that these young people were engaged in a peaceful protest; it was the law enforcers who violated the law by assaulting them.

 

Police brutality has increasingly become an ugly trend in the country. Every now and then citizens are informed that the police are their friends. That is only a platitude, for the reality is that citizens are reluctant to approach the police with any complaints out of the belief that asking them for help will only land them in deeper trouble. It is not something a society can be proud of. As for the police themselves, the time has come for them to appreciate citizens’ sentiments and act in consonance with citizens’ desires. It is a regrettable condition when the police become, in the eyes of people, symbols of fear.

 

There must come reforms in police behaviour. As for the assault on the students in Shahbagh, the police administration should be bold enough to admit the wrong done by its personnel and at the same time ensure that Siddiqur Rahman’s injuries are taken care of. Police violence damaged his eyes. It is now for the police to make amends through ensuring his proper treatment. Will they do it?

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