Yet one more death allegedly in police custody raises that old question of extra-judicial killing in the country. The media and other sections of people all across Bangladesh have for months and years been demanding that arbitrary arrests and killings in police custody be brought to an end and that those responsible for such action be brought to justice. Such embarrassing action as so-called shoot-outs and gunfights which have left people arrested by the police dead in what has always been given out as encounters between the police and alleged accomplices of alleged criminals has served no one. But our protests have all gone in vain.
That is the conclusion we draw from the death of Zakir Hossen Milon in police custody. The vice-president of the Tejgaon thana unit of the Jatiyotabadi Chhatra Dal, which Milon was, found himself taken into custody by the police at Shahbagh as he was returning from a demonstration before the Jatiyo Press Club on 6 March.
On Monday morning, Milon fell ill at Kashempur jail, where he had been placed after the expiry of a three-day remand in police custody. Later, he breathed his last. Now, the old questions come up here again. When Milon was arrested on 6 March, he was a perfectly healthy man returning from a protest demonstration organized by the BNP. He was then placed in remand for three days. And then he died.
Obviously, the argument that he fell ill suddenly in Kashimpur jail and died does not hold water. The nature of remand in our context gives us images of the most horrific and brutal kind of torture inflicted on a person. We will not be too far wrong to ask the police here how Milon's health deteriorated so quickly after three days in remand, enough to push him to a death whose circumstances remain unclear? Again, when the police arrested him, did they have a warrant out for him? Additionally, under what law do the police go after people who happen to be in or are part of the political opposition in the country?
The death of the JCD leader only makes us go through new pain. Is anyone out there to inform us of the proper circumstances which pushed him to a swift and none too happy end?
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