Published:  02:07 AM, 05 August 2017

Why flay the law enforcers only?

Police takes most of the flak for corruption, but there are other bribe takers too. Income tax, customs, magistracy, DESA, WASA, T&T, Titas Gas, BRTA, DCC, RAJUK, R&H, works, fisheries and livestock and forest departments etc. - one could go on with these known lists, but then there are others who operate from less conspicuous stations but whose extent and depth of corruption would far outclass that of police, customs, and income tax department.

Land revenue department can be taken as an instance, in a remote corner of a hilly district a local revenue officer, who works under DC of the said district, could not accept a tax of Tk. 500 due to government, unless Tk 2,000 is paid as bribe. These are the pictures of every department of each district. There is a popular saying that police can control law and order within 24 hours. It is true but where is the scope to do this? Dishonest politicians use them as cat's paw.

There are many instances of good works done by police. Many police officers sacrificed their lives during nabbing the criminals. It is an irony of fate that everybody flays the police, but when police do some good works, it is not appreciated. Even the mass media remains silent.

During the British rule, Bengali police brought name and fame. Mr. Khurshed Alam read up to class VII and joined as an ordinary police constable. Because of his outstanding performance, honesty, efficiency, sincerity and hard work, he was made DIG of police. The same was the case of Mr. Taher Ali. He was appointed (CDI) Chief Drill Instructor (DSP) at Sharda Police Training Center in Rajshahi during the British period. He had no academic qualification. How did those happen? It was because of their honesty, efficiency, sincerity and hard labour.

There are many police personnel at present whose performance is satisfactory. But do they get this sort of reward nowadays in our country? Many dynamic, efficient, experienced officers have been dismissed from service under previous government. Many intellectuals and elites of society opine that, because of this unlawful performance of the past government, chain of command had broken down.

There are many Khurshed Alams and Taher Alis in our police department who can bring back the lost glory of police. Their performance should be evaluated. Another department, corrupt to its marrow, is the forest department. Its remote dark offices, far away from people's eyes, are dens of defilement, profligacy and corruption. The department of Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has been doing a lot for curbing corruption. Recent activities of ACC gives a new look and its chairman is doing his best to curb corruption in the society.

A few examples mentioned above will clear the readers. Only the police should not be blamed for these misdeeds in the society. Corruption is everywhere. It is true there are few police officials who are involved in corruption and criminal activities. To realise this, we are to go in-depth into the cause of unrest. Why this sort of unrest and terrorism is prevailing in the society and how to overcome this?

The principal task of the police administration is to maintain law and order in the country, but they also had some direct and indirect responsibilities of containing corruption. Despite that there are many complaints against the police. As a result, the distance between the police and people is gradually widening. The number of police has not grown at the same rate ratio in the country.

The number of policemen in the country is about l, 09,000 or something more. In terms of proportion, there is only one police for every 13 thousand persons. Besides, a large number of police force remains busy with protocol duties. It can be easily understood that the size of the police is indeed small, compared to their responsibilities. Everybody is well aware of today's law and order situation. We need not mention it again and again.

The existing administrative arrangements in the police force are also responsible to a large extent for its corruption tendencies. Each year thousands of cases are lodged against the police, but there is no change in the situation. The administrative thanas or police stations of the country play an important role in efforts to control lawlessness, reduce criminality and check corruption. But there is a dearth of efficient, trained and meritorious police officers for running the police stations.

There are also multifarious problems relating to infrastructure. At different times, the government of the day use the police force for political purposes, as a result of which the legal basis of their work as well as their efficiency and morale suffer serious damage.

Recently published UNDP report on "Human Security in Bangladesh" quotes the police as saying that there is regular interference in their works by the political parties, leaders and higher authorities. This research mentions that the police are quite dissatisfied with their existing salary - allowance structure and other facilities. A police commission was constituted in 1998, headed by Justice Aminur Rahman Khan. The commission submitted recommendations consisting of 300 pages, but most of these had not been implemented. Presently, counter-intelligence unit has been established.

Reforming the police force has now become urgent in the backdrop of the existing socio-economic realities. Its rules and regulations need to be modernised, the police administration should be decentralised and the basic force should work at the sub-district level. The number of police should be raised to control law and order, reduce criminality and curb corruption. The recruitment process for the police force should be such that only meritorious and honest persons committed to public service are selected for the job.

The quality of work at the police stations is expected to improve if its responsibility is given to an ASP/AC who had qualified in a BCS examinations. Many people are of the opinion that corruption would decrease manifold if the police are not allowed to operate section 54 of the criminal procedure code indiscriminately. A regulating mechanism involving judges, and ombudsman should be evolved to protect innocent people and political opponents from arrest without warrant. Laws may also be framed for keeping the officers free from invisible influences.

Police officials should be protected from political leaders and influential offenders by provisions such as making it mandatory to record all instructions from any higher authority and regular monitoring of these records by the office of the Ombudsman. This will reduce fear of intimidation, which drastically dissuades police from carrying out investigation if the offenders are influential. Police should be provided with logistic support, modem technological instruments like CC cameras, tape recorders, videotapes, slides, projector, wireless, fax, radar, screens and computer. Qualitative police investigations should be made available. We earlier mentioned the condition at thana level. An interesting story was narrated by a district level police officer.

He said, in every thana, there are two OCs -- One OC is recruited by the government and another OC i.e. shadow OC, is appointed by every ruling party. He further asked me: who is powerful-do you know? He himself answered the question promptly- the shadow OC. In fine, we can say that to reduce corruption and terrorism in every sector even in the police department, the following advice of the intellectuals, social reformers and scholars should be followed.

Barrister Rokanuddin Mahmud, ex-president of Supreme Court Bar Association said breeding grounds of terrorism and corruption are:
1. Criminalisation of politics
2. Politicization of criminals
3. Criminalisation of police

Ex-IGP, ex-Secretary and ex-Advisor to the caretaker government Mr. Shahjahan said, to curb terrorism, its breeding ground has to be eliminated. If these suggestions of the Supreme Court lawyer and the experienced police officer are accepted, terrorism and corruption in every sector of the government and society is sure to come down. Recent activities of law enforcers are praiseworthy. They have sacrificed their lives to control militant activities in the country.

Neo JMB activists are mostly wiped out and many are under watch by the police forces. Recently a constable of Highway police rescued some bus passengers who were drowned at Comilla. For his bravery ACI Co. awarded him a motor-bike and IGP Mr. Shahidul Hoque gave him one lakh taka.

The writer is Associate Editor,  The Dainik Dhaka

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