From the Editor-in-Chief: Take strong action against that police SI

Enayetullah Khan
Thursday, January 14th, 2016
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The police sub-inspector who subjected a Bangladesh Bank official to degrading treatment a few days ago in the capital’s Mohammadpur area has, we have been informed, been taken off duty. Meanwhile, the police department itself has initiated an inquiry into the matter. Neither of these steps is good enough. The enormity of the crime the police sub-inspector has committed by keeping the bank official hostage for hours in a van and threatening to frame him in a Yaba-related case if he did not cough up a huge amount of cash to him is but a tip of the iceberg. There have been similar incidents over the years, going as far back as a decade and more, when innocent citizens, picked up at the whims of policemen, have been subjected to bad treatment and warned that they could go free only if they could arrange money for their release. If they could not oblige the police, they were threatened with cases, false of course.


It is our opinion, one which we believe is shared by people across the spectrum, that the police sub-inspector in question should be made to answer before the law. The allegations against him, for all his denials, are serious and merit the attention of the highest levels of the government, especially the ministry of home affairs. This man has undermined the calling of his profession, which is to come to the aid of citizens when they are in trouble. Instead, he has turned out to be the cause of trouble, indeed horror, for a young man whose only fault was that he was accosted by this sub-inspector on his way home. The audacity with which the sub-inspector kept the bank official confined to the police van and subjected him to verbal abuse calls for much more severe action than what has been done so far. Today he has gone off duty. What guarantee is there that he will not come back tomorrow, take up new responsibilities and go back to doing to others what he has done to this young man?


The police department has ordered an inquiry into the incident. There is the grave suspicion that the inquiry will yield little, if any, result. The signs of how such an inquiry may lead to nothing come from the officer-in-charge of Mohammadpur police station himself. As shown on television, the OC appeared to be taking the side of his officer who, in absolute arrogance, stood nearby loudly denying having committed any wrong. Given that the police may not judiciously and impartially be conducting such an inquiry, it is important that the job be referred to a neutral investigative team. Such a team may be constituted by the home minister with officials from his ministry and include members from outside the ministry as well. The remit of such a committee must not be restricted to the incident under review alone. It should be broadened to include all other instances where citizens have been picked up by police on false pretexts and subjected to humiliating treatment.


Finally, let there be an open public debate on how the police service, in terms of professionalism and attitude to citizens, may be reformed. Citizens are in constant fear of the police. That sub-inspector has only reinforced that fear.

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