THE Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), a collective of personnel from different security and law enforcement agencies, seems to have developed a new storyline for its official account of extrajudicial killing. Under the leadership of its new director general, the so-called elite crime-combat force appears to think that it needs to discard ‘crossfire’, ‘encounter’, ‘shootout’ as a template for its absurd account of extrajudicial murders.
The Chapainawabganj camp commander of the battalion was quoted in New Age on Wednesday as saying that a local leader of Islami Chhatra Shibir, student organisation of the opposition Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, was killed early Tuesday, within an hour of his arrest, as he jumped off a RAB vehicle in an attempt to escape but ended up being crushed under the wheels of a truck. Intriguingly, yet not surprisingly perhaps, the law enforcers could neither catch the truck nor its number plate. The official RAB account of the Shibir leader’s death is as much an affront to the collective intelligence of people as its extrajudicial murder spree is to the universally acclaimed concept of the rule of law and accountability.
Such arrogance by members of the law enforcement agencies could have been unthinkable if the Awami League government had not given indulgence to them from the very early days of its previous tenure between January 2009 and December 2013. The atrocity of the government lies not only in the indulgence it has given to the battalion and other law enforcement agencies as they carry out one extrajudicial killing after another, it seems to believe that such actions could be employed to partisan end.
The killing of seven people, mostly Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Jamaat exponents, since the opposition blockade began on January 6 could very well reinforce such a perception. The precedent thus set is dangerous not only insofar as the rule of law and the accountability of the law enforcers are concerned but also for the political culture, not to speak of the moral and ethical fabric of society at large.
In view of the persistent claim by the government that no extrajudicial killing had taken place under its stewardship, iterated just a few days ago by the state minister for home affairs and duly chorused by top law enforcement officials, such legal and administrative steps look highly unlikely.
Source: New Age Editorial, 29.01.15
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