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     Volume 4 Issue 60 | August 26 , 2005 |

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Law and disorder


One of the things that adults in Dhaka often complain about is how young people never remain in the country any longer than they absolutely have to. Most of them escape the minute they have been accepted into schools abroad. It is true this kind of brain drain has negative consequences on the country. But perhaps people should first stop to consider why these young people have no wish to remain in their home country in the first place.

Well for one thing it's the law enforcement system. This plays a very important part in helping people decide to leave, because if even the law enforcers do not follow the law, who else is going to?

There are several law enforcement agencies in Dhaka, but no one who has any idea about what is happening in the country, has faith in them. The only group in which people had any faith was the RAB. When the RAB (formerly, and somewhat more accurately, known as RAT) first started out, many people felt that they were just what Dhaka needed. It was true that their methods were somewhat rough, but the state of Dhaka was in such dire straits that people were willing to accept the RAB's methods. However, this opinion was soon to change.

After a few months, the RAB, just like all the other law enforcement agencies before them, began to go wrong. Rather than going after criminals (as they were meant to), they went on a rampage. They got away with everything they did because of the authority they had. Drunk on power, they behaved worse than the criminals that they were supposed to be tracking down. They became more ruthless, abusing, sometimes, innocent people were "caught in the crossfire" and killed.

One tragic incident is the experience of 65-year-old Muhammad Ali and his wife Aklima. After a disturbance in the area, the man accused of causing it hid in their house. The couple had no idea that the man was in their house, and willingly allowed the "law enforcers" to search the house. After the man was found, the "law enforcers" went wild. They beat Muhammad Ali and when Aklima tried to protest, they roughed her up too.

They stamped on her chest with their booted feet, and then proceeded to destroy their valuables, even damaging the ceiling of their house. They broke the cupboard open, and stole all the money and jewellery it contained. While all this was taking place in the room, another group of "law enforcers" had dragged Muhammad Ali outside by his hair, and continued to torture and beat him. They shot him in both feet, and then shot him in the chest. They then slung him, half dead, into their van and he was never seen alive again.

It would be nice to think that after they had tortured and killed a totally innocent man that they would have at least one scrap of decency, which would stop them from further harassing the victim's family. Sadly (and not surprisingly) that could not be further from the truth, because, to add insult to injury, they then filed two criminal cases against the victims!

You would be right to feel that these "law enforcers" should have something better to do than harass innocent old couples.

Then again, the RAB may have been too busy tracking down little boys…who are no doubt dangerous criminals! My friend's 12-yr-old brother was on his way home from school in the school bus and showed some members of the RAB the thumbs up sign. They stopped the bus and told him off because they were too stupid to understand that he was actually complimenting them. Or perhaps they were just defensive about the, wonderful job that they were doing…?

It is true that if all the young people leave there is no hope for the country, but they need reasons to stay. So, people in positions of power, people who can make a difference, should not just sit back and accept this lawlessness because it does not affect them directly. Law enforcement should be approached as a non-partisan issue rather than an argument between the political parties, with each trying to blame the other for what the RAB has become.

Action in this regard would give young people at least some small signs of improvement, and encourage them to stay in Dhaka.


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