Extortion by police on highway ahead of Eid

Bangladesh on 31 July 2013
Location : Bangladesh | Source : Daily Star. Image Source: Flickr User: Vipez

A section of law enforcers are allegedly involved in rampant extortion from passengers in the name of checking on Benapole-Jessore highway ahead of the Eid-ul-Fitr.

Especially passengers to and from India through Benapole and Satkhira face harassment by law enforcers at several places of the 38-kilometre highway, including check posts set up at Jhikargachha, Balikhola, Kalagachhi, Laujani and Nabinagar, alleged passengers and locals.

Brokers are also engaged on the highway to collect the extorted money from passengers, they said.
“The law enforcers sometimes seize goods, both legal and illegal, from vehicles on Jessore-Benapole highway. But instead of depositing those to the customs authorities, they sell it through brokers,” said Shaheen Alam, who returned from India with a valid passport.

While conducting search, law enforcers ask passengers to give Tk 100 to Tk 500 each and threaten to file cases in case of refusal, said several passengers.

“A police team took Tk 500 from me at Malanchi on the highway by threatening to harass me on Thursday when I was going to Dhaka by a bus after returning from India with valid passport,” said Shahinur Rahman.
Another passenger of the bus, Abdul Majed had to give police Tk 1,000 as he was carrying some goods, said the passenger.

Khabir Hossain, officer in charge (OC) of Jhikargachha police station, however, said police have set up check posts and are conducting operations only to arrest arms and drug peddlers and seize the illegal items.

Denying the allegation of extortion, he said, “We don’t check passport holder returnees from India.”
Monir Hossain, OC of Detective Branch, said, “We conduct operations when we get secret information. Generally we do not conduct raids on passenger vehicles.”

Talking to journalists, Emdadul Haq Sheikh, OC of Kotwali police station, also refuted the allegation of extortion,
“Anti-smuggling drives are being conducted on the highway. Passport holders are subject to checking as they often carry excessive goods,” he added.

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