This nation is in need of a police force whose performance is in line with standards followed by law enforcers across the world. Forty years into our independent existence as a nation, it therefore makes sense to ask if we, if successive governments, have been able to put in place a police organization that is equipped to handle conditions which may naturally, sometimes unavoidably arise and which may test the resolve of the authorities in terms of their ability to bring such situations to a satisfactory end.
Much has been said and much more has been written about the police force. Be it policemen entrusted with the job of ensuring good, efficient traffic movement on the roads, be it those whose clear responsibility is to ensure citizens' welfare through swift and smooth action, there have been all the deliberations on the need to reform the police department, the objective being to have it operate independently in the greater public interest.
All these moves, or call them acts if you will, are fundamentally a huge sign of the concern as well as hope with which the nation as a whole looks at the police.
The time is, therefore, perhaps here and now for a full-scale reappraisal of the problems and prospects of the police department. The reapparaisal, of course, will be a job for the government to undertake. But, again, it will be for civil society as a whole to make the recommendations that will add substance to the professional quality of the police force through slicing away at the various problems it has been enmeshed in for decades altogether.
The history of the police in Bangladesh has clearly become etched in the popular mind because of the glorious role they played during the War of Liberation in 1971. We cannot but recall that one of the very first targets of the Pakistan occupation army as it launched Operation Search Light on 25 March 1971 was the police.
To that end, Rajarbagh police lines came under massive assault and a very large number of Bengali policemen were murdered. In the subsequent resistance put up by the people of Bangladesh under the leadership of the Mujibnagar government, members of the police service played a courageous role through active participation as part of the Mukti Bahini.
And those police officers and employees who were trapped inside occupied Bangladesh carried bravely on, with some among them becoming targets of the army. They were all done to death, as were millions of others in this country.
It is this heritage that must now come back into the picture to give the police a sense of the duties and responsibilities they need to carry out in the larger interest of the nation.
But before that expectation is to be fulfilled, it becomes necessary for the government, the present one as well as those to come, to ensure that those who enter the police force are imbued with a high sense of duty which rises above the personal and expands into a realm where it is the people of the country who turn out to be the beneficiaries of police professionalism.
Our police spring from our own people. Let us have more of an opportunity to be proud of them in everything they do. Let this nation have a police force that symbolizes the best in our nation.
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