We have repeatedly been told over the last many years that the police are the friends of the people. Regular police weeks are observed in the country, the objective of which is to foster police-people relations through the police educating citizens on the rules they should follow in various aspects of life and at the same time bring to public attention instances of crime they may be witness to. On the part of citizens, it is always the expectation that the police will maintain law and order, an important aspect of which relates to dealing harshly with those who indulge in lawlessness and corruption of any sort. Democratic circumstances are an opportunity for people to expect the police to be of constant service to them. To what extent have such expectations been realized?
A recent instance of how some policemen indulge in unsavoury activities and thereby bring the entire force into disrepute will suffice. Six policemen, we were informed last week, were ‘closed’ in Boraigram upazila of Natore. They had allegedly destroyed 35,000 eggs belonging to an egg dealer, the offence of the dealer being that he refused to satisfy them with a hefty bribe. The dealer had his vehicle carrying the eggs run into problems on a highway when the incident occurred. This incident cannot but have caused a fresh stain on the reputation of the police. The egg dealer in question had the vehicle carrying the eggs skid off the road and was trying to hold the vehicle from keeling over completely. It was then that the policemen allegedly approached him and offered to help, on condition that he gave them Tk. 20,000 in return for their ‘services’. The egg dealer’s refusal to comply with the demand saw the policemen cut off the rope preventing the vehicle from falling further away, in the process destroying the eggs.
The time has certainly arrived for such misdemeanours to be investigated in public. With the Eid season already here, citizens are worried that such high-handedness on the part of corrupt elements in the police force will rise, marring the atmosphere. There are yet the many reports of harassment people are subjected to by unscrupulous elements among the police not only in the capital but elsewhere in the country as well. We would like to draw the attention of the Inspector General of Police as also senior officials of the police department to the malaise, which really is a menace to normal life.
Let the reputation of the police department reach a level where citizens will be convinced that they can turn to the law enforcers in the matter of a checking and curbing of corruption.