The past few weeks have been marked increased frequency of abduction, forced disappearance of people and recovery of their bodies from rivers or in jungles or beside the roads. The public life has been exposed to this extreme uncertainty. The common citizens and civil society members have expressed their grave concern over the issue as these kind of incidents taking place at the behest of law enforcing agencies in disguise are becoming very common. Most appalling is the fact that the people at the Ministry of Home say ‘they are not concerned about it’. Which incidents will make them concerned remains a question to us?
The people of Naranganj are still in a state of shock following the recovery of bodies of seven people including Narayanganj city corporation panel mayor Nazrul Islam from Shitalakkya River when the local businessman Saiful Islam went missing. The relatives of Saiful Islam said he had been adducted and the kidnappers demanded Tk 20 lakh as ransom over cell phone. As soon as the news spread local businessmen demonstrated on the Dhaka- Chittagong highway and vehicular movement came to a halt. Enraged local people gave an ultimatum to the police to rescue Saiful by 4 pm. Finally Saiful Islam was rescued which once again proves that the seven people could have been saved if the law enforcers paid heed to the relative request earlier.
The Narayanganj District Bar Association observed a daylong hartal in the district on May 03 in protest against the killing of seven people including a senior lawyer named Chandam Kumar Sarkar. Another incident of abduction in Noakhali Abul Basher 42 , a businessman was picked up at gunpoint from his residence at Alaipur union of Begumgonj. The kidnappers threatened to kill Abul if his family members did not pay them Tk 5 lakh within twenty four hours. A schoolboy, abducted on 28 April in Gazipur was released after 20 days his younger brother was murdered by the abductors. The repeated and frequent reports of abductions, forced disappearances and killing have made our sensitivity obtuse. Still, many such incidents don’t get published in the media as the perpetrators threaten the victims not to disclose abductions and extortions. If they do so, they will also face the same fate. The victims, the general people and the nation receive very irresponsible responses from the people responsible for maintaining law and order of the.
The nation has got response from the BNP Chairperson thus, “It’s pointless to seek security for people from the government. Now a strong resistance must be put. I’ myself will take to the street together with people to save the country, its people and democracy from the grasp of this … regime. I urge all the leaders and activists of BNP and 19 party alliances to remain ready and alert across the country. I declare an organisational red-alert so that BNP and 19-party alliance men can get ready and take to the streets responding to the call I will make in due time.” She also urged her party and the alliance activists’ to give a thrashing if anybody including RAB and place men coming to illegally pick up anyone. “Encircle and capture those who will come to make people disappear.” She complained that the ruling party men are involved in the incidents of killing, enforced disappearance and abduction. The nation does not want see the blame and counter-blame of two big parties of the country. They want security. Many people have been killed and abducted but the action from the sate machinery has been frustrating.
Apart from political leaders and activists; businessmen, professionals, elected representatives and lawyers are now becoming victims of abduction. Even students, women and children are not being spared. Who are the perpetrators? Who are these criminals? Why do they rejoice on the killing spree? The National Human Rights Commission has expressed deep concern over the recent incidents of abductions and extrajudicial killings. “We have repeatedly asked the government to be very strict in dealing with the issues of abduction , forced disappearance and extra judicial killings. But such incidents keep recurring and have created a sense of insecurity among people.”
When government accuses directly the BNP, the law enforcers who have been trying to find out the clues, causes and real culprits will feel relaxed as they have the reason to think otherwise. It neither gives any benefit to the victims nor the common people. As a result, more insecurity will prevail in the society. It is true that only the government cannot ensure security of the society. But the irresponsible comments of the people in the positions of power rather exacerbate the incidents and victims’ pains. Moreover, the law enforcers will feel encouraged to arrest the wrong persons hiding the real incidents and saving the real culprits which will further aggravate the situation.
There is no meaningful opposition in the Jatiya Sangsad which will speak for the people, put pressure on the government to take actions or to raise hue and cry to make the government ponder. So, people are in a false position and the government people behave as they want. This abduction started on political grounds – has now taken a serious turn -has gone almost beyond control. The request from civil society members and human rights groups received little importance from the government. Now practically it is happening that the culprits, vested interest groups, political goons try to fish in the muddy water at the cost of security of the common people. It cannot be ignored that the base of the government is very weak as more than fifty percent of the lawmakers were not elected by ballot. The rest also did not enjoy public support through screening which contributes a lot to developing this grave situation.
Law is for the people. People are not for the law. Law can be changed in the greater interest of the nation and for the security of the people. No law enforcing agencies should be allowed to run operation in plain clothes from now on. It has been capitalised by the criminals and the people responsible for looking into these matters must understand the gravity of the situation by this time, if they actually don’t give a blind eye. Many a time this was uttered in media but to no avail.
When someone is arrested, whatever negligible his/her position is in the society, things must be made clear to him/her why he/she is arrested. They have right to know where they are being taken. Their relatives must know why and where the victims are being taken. We don’t live in the British or Pakistani rule. We live in an independent state and this independence has been achieved at the cost of supreme sacrifice of many martyrs who wanted to give us honour, safe and secured life. If we fail to uphold the human rights at any cost, the value of our independence be lost. No one has the right to play foul with human rights of the people.
(Masum Billah, manager- BRAC Education Progamme and vice-president: Bangladesh English Language Teachers Association ( BELTA). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)