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Society needs to raise voice against lawlessness

Bangladesh on 26 March 2014
Location : Bangaldesh | Source : New Age Bd.

EIGHT dead bodies were found in six districts, including three in Narayanganj alone, on Friday night and Saturday. Just a week ago, on March 17, nine bodies were found in four districts. In each of these cases, the dead had gone missing several days before they turned up dead. Whatever the reasons behind these murders and whoever the murderers are, such incidents look to have induced a pervasive sense of insecurity, which only gets heightened amidst allegations that members of law enforcement agencies, especially the Rapid Action Battalion, may have been involved in many of these cases of disappearance and killing. 

According to the rights organisation Ain O Salish Kendra, there were at least 30 cases of enforced disappearances in the first two months of the current year, compared with 53 throughout 2013; in most of the cases, the victims were allegedly picked up by people in RAB uniform. Frighteningly still, two-thirds of those gone missing in January and February were leaders and activists of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its political allies. In such circumstances, it is only natural to suspect that the government may have employed members of the law enforcement agencies on a witch-hunt of its political opponents.

All along, the government and the law enforcement agencies have denied any involvement in disappearances and killing of political leaders and activists. Such denial could have dispelled the suspicion in public mind had they at least appeared sincere about finding out the perpetrators, which they have not thus far. That the government and the law enforcement agencies apparently do not feel any compulsion to contain crime and go after criminals ultimately boils down to the evident absence of accountability, which forms the core of the rule of law and democratic governance.
Constitutionally, the legislature is supposed to demand such accountability from the executive branch of the state, i.e. the government, and the law enforcement and security branches under its control. Regrettably, the patently farcical January 5 elections have led to a parliament that has an official opposition, which is also part of the government. The resultant conflict of interest is anything but auspicious for the democratic accountability that the constitution enjoins upon parliament to demand and ensure. 

Meanwhile, the unofficial but real opposition political camp, led by the BNP, appears primarily invested in its demand for restoration of the constitutional provision for election-time party-neutral government, which it believes would take it back to power. It does not seem that the BNP-led combine is either able or committed to wage a movement against the sustained surge in enforced disappearance and killing anytime soon.

Hence, it has become imperative for society at large, especially its democratically-oriented and rights-conscious sections, to step forward, mobilise public opinion and bring the pressure to bear on the incumbents so that they take decisive and demonstrative, effective and efficient steps against extrajudicial killing and find out the perpetrators behind the killing of the disappeared.

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