Dhaka Courier

Extra judicial killing and the Bond test

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The report by ASK that the total number of extra judicial killings stood at 204 in 6 months is scary. It’s not just because of the number of deaths but that the dead have just become numbers. Nobody really cares because how many dies when one is so helpless. Everyone knows that the judicial process is so loaded against the victim that one just have to sort of give up.

Nobody even knows if the actual number is 204, 206 or 508. After a brief shiver people turn to other issues and distract themselves from the matter. There is only so much that the brain can take.

The killer system

The problem of course is systemic rather than incidental which means that the problems begins with the law enforcement process at the grassroots and then climbs up to the top where the formal law is expected to operate. However, media reports every day that such is not the reality.

Court cases are not held for years when the accused are powerful and important influential people can survive happily and easily any number of crimes as reports shows every day. On the other hand, if the victim is a powerless weak one, we have many instances where they experience judicial nightmares with cases lasting many years with no resolution. Some are even sent to jail like Jah Alam due to error or negligence for years.

Yet the number 204 itself is disturbing. Going by daily media reports, many die or are killed by people on grounds of rivalry, conflicts of many kinds from marital to land, every day. Some simply kill because they were angry.

As political protection becomes a fact of life, inter-factional conflict is becoming a major source of violence. The scene of a young man being killed by others shows that violence is the chosen form of conflict resolver. People are not keen to seek law and order support because most probably don’t have confidence in them as a system much.

If seeking law and order support is something people are reluctant to consider as the first option, the system of conventional governance appears to be in the process of being replaced. That is a profound change and beyond the capacity of ordinary comprehension. In what circumstance will these factors influence the emergence of a new form of governance management awaits to be seen. And that involves birth of new institutions that will dominate the existing ones possibly.

If system goes can status quo survive?

This is the major issue because the current system is hugely abused but is a conventional one. And the existing state is based on its manipulation, distortion and denial for its survival. Nevertheless those very abuses form the platform of the existing shape. Extra judicial killings are mostly committed by the state forces but after a point of time, other forces may emerge that are outside the realm of the state identity.

These are possible to identify if they are political in nature for e.g. extremist groups.  However, if crime and economics become one, then they become a social rather than a non-political challenge to the conventional state. And that’s when the rise of proto- state /sub-state social entities are inevitable. The best protection of the state are strong state institutions but if they are weakened the l protection of the state which even allows for such abuse may fade away.The Barguna Bond test

The Barguna murder of Reefat in public view of all with the enemy identified but not yet arrested is currently in front of all to observe the sort of transition that is taking place. The fact that everyone knows about the killers but is reported to be enjoying local protection including from some elements of the local administration has been the most indicative.

The character Nayan Bond who eluded police capture for so many days represents a classic case of the systemic failure that creates anxiety for all. Those who were protecting him were probably unaware that in doing so, they were contributing to the production of a new system which is going to hit them the hardest when it turns against them.

The problem is that the sense of impunity is created and sustained by offering impunity to others. So whether they like or not, the local powerful will have to protect the killers. And with that comes the emergence of a new system where killers will compete with others not just be on the same side.

The alternative system in competition?

The observers of the scene with intent to join this alternative system or participate in competition have already seen a good example of the protection that systems offer. They have also seen the failure even if it’s for a week of the regular law enforcement now established and their main competitor in future. So confidence in the alternative system will increase. Many will look at the opportunity cost of approaching traditional law and order regimes.

The victim is the legal system as extra judicial killings going by the report is only a few hundred annually when such killings are far many in number. If extra judicial killings are shorn of the prefix and become simply killings, the number of people killed by unofficial civilians are far far greater. Society is already active in producing a new management of law and order which is outside the conventional judicial and law and order system.  And that has in many ways wounded the state far more deeply than any encounter killings ever can.

Right after the article was finalized, news arrived that Nayan Bond has been killed in an encounter. It was inevitable. Nayan had become national news and protecting him was becoming dangerous for his protectors. The protection system also has its limits. Obviously Nayan over estimated his necessity to his protectors and he paid the price. Protection is a deadly cycle and no one knows who will lose the shield and when.  Which is based on the convenience of the more powerful?

No one shall really know when and what and how it happened except for the official handout but some lessons have been learnt by the players and insiders. Each such lesson diminishes the traditional status of the state and each will extract a price from those who play the system, the builders of the alternative system and sadly innocent victims as well.

  • Extra judicial killing and the Bond test
  • Afsan Chowdhury
  • Vol 35
  • Issue 52
  • DhakaCourier

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