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Police take little notice of GDs

Bangladesh on 09 October 2013
Location : Bangladesh | Source : New Age. Image Source: Rajiv Ashrafi

On July 4 this year, Shahed Kayes, a human rights activist in Narayanganj, filed a General Diary with Sonargaon police station stating that some people had threatened to kill him.

Twenty days after the GD was filed – and without the police lifting a finger – Kayes was abducted and his wrist and throat were cut. Luckily he survived.

‘If the police had taken the complaint a little seriously,’ he said in his hospital bed, ‘I might not have faced such misfortune’.
What happened with Kayes is just one example of the police’s lackadaisical approach in dealing with GDs that are filed with hundreds of police stations all over the country.

Conversations with police officers suggest that they take very limited action in response to GDs, assessing that they signify nothing other than a legal ‘formality’. 

The police also do not keep records of GDs, with officers telling New Age that ‘GDs are not important enough to preserve.’

It is estimated that about 1,000 GDs are filed each month with each of the 49 police stations under the Dhaka Metropolitan Police.

Masudur Rahman, deputy commissioner (media) of DMP, told New Age that the ‘DMP does not preserve the records of GDs as they are not that important’.

‘Thousands of GDs have been filed for thousands of reasons; why do we have to preserve the records,’ Masudur asked.
He admitted that the police did not investigate them.

The DMP DC said the police headquarters might keep records but New Age found that they also did not store them.

Kamrul Ahsan, information officer at the police headquarters, was surprised that New Age was even searching for GDs.

However, AKM Shahidul Hoque, additional inspector general of police, told New Age that every GD necessitated investigation, and ‘we usually take action considering the substance of the particular GD.’

‘Every officer-in-charge of each police station is responsible to look after the GDs and, in addition, the superintendent of police (circle) of each jurisdiction monitors the development of the investigation,’ he added.

The additional IGP said that if the police were negligent in taking steps, the responsible personnel were punished if they received specific information to that effect.

Delwar Jahan, a researcher at Jahangirnagar University, told New Age that in most of the cases the police showed little interest in GDs.
‘ The police even do not investigate the cases, so how can one expect them to  bother about GDs,’ he said.

Hadis Uddin, former inspector general of police, told New Age that the crimes might decrease at least to some extent if the police took some steps to investigate the matter of GDs. 

‘The purpose of filing a GD is to get the police to take steps immediately into the matter,’ he said.

‘But sometimes the GDs are only treated as a supporting information when a case is filed after the incident that the person feared actually happens’, he added.

A recent study of sociology department of Dhaka University found that at least 28 per cent people had to pay ‘speed money’ in order to get the police to agree to record a GD, though officially there are no fees.

They also found that in many cases people going to police stations for help were treated badly by the police. 

The additional IGP admitted that such incidents did happen, and the authorities were ‘trying’ to ‘improve’ the police so that they did not abuse their power.

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