Two photographs carried in the front page of this newspaper's Thursday issue present us with a dichotomy with regard to police action that is too starkly one-sided to be made a short shrift of. While one picture shows the police overlooking a Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) activist loading his firearm on Rajshahi campus, the other picture shows them assaulting activists of Progatisheel Chhatra Jote on Wednesday who brought out a peaceful procession.
And this is not the first time we have seen police blatantly taking sides with one political party and using force on other political parties, preventing them exercising their lawful political rights. The police high-handedness towards opposition party activists during the BNP's March 12 rally is still fresh in anybody's memory. The impression is that police act as directed.
The direction must come from the top authorities for the police to act even-handedly, impartially and professionally. Institutions of the state exist to serve the ends of the state by protecting the citizens and caring for their right to dissent and free expression of opinion. However, over the years we have seen successive governments using the police force and other law enforcing agencies merely as their party tool.
Consequently, the lines between the party and the government, and the government and the state have been virtually obliterated. This is neither good for governance nor for rule of law. Above all, it is anachronistic to the fundamental principles of a functioning democracy.
Such manipulation of the police force can do nothing more than harm the government's credibility. When will the governments change their attitude?