by Muhammad Nuray Alam
Police play a vital role in maintaining law and order in every country. But since the very inception of police force formation in British India in 1861 AD, police had been mostly playing an anti-people role and supported the ruling government except during Bangladesh’s 1971 liberation war.
Increasingly, police earned a bad name as they have been used by vested groups or governments. However, people’s perception of police dramatically shifted to sky-high following Bangladesh’s Covid-19 infection as the force demonstrated the proactive responses.
Recently, few activities of police have raised questions among the people and police is reversing to their old ways. The newspapers have been publishing negative news on the forces during the last several days.
1. Lalmonirhat OC, accused of taking bribe after using hand-sanitizer, withdrawn
2. Police shoot, kill ex-major of Bangladesh Army in Cox’s Bazar
3. ‘Drama by cops’ gone wrong
4. Crossfire threat: Kotwali OC, 4 policemen sued for extortion
5. Bamna OC withdrawn for slapping ASI
These incidents prove that police are not doing the job they are supposed to do and are working against the people as well as laws of the land. People would have forgotten their past ill activities after their great humanitarian activities during COVID-19. Many of them laid their lives to the deadly virus and hundreds fought to recover and returned to their duty.
But such scandalous activities remind people of police’s misdemeanors of the past. Police took the oath on the eve of “Mujib Year” that it will be for the people. No sooner had the intensity of the COVID-19 decreased, the police again appears to have turned to their old disreputable ways.
There is a strong allegation against the force of killing people in the name of “crossfire.” They have been used for the repression of opposition from time to time. People stayed away from police to avoid harassment. Without bribe, it was impossible to get any kind of support from the men guarding our cities and towns.
Bangladesh first introduced shutdown on March 26, 2020, since then-police has been working relentlessly in the frontline on the streets every day to ensure that the rest of the population stay indoors and maintain social distancing. In addition, police were in disinfecting streets, assisting working people to ensure social distancing during lockdown, taking people to hospitals for treatment. People found police within touch. Sometimes they have to work for 12 hours, and sometimes for 18 hours. The police also played an active role by deterring stealing and recovering looted relief goods from political activists.
Why police is not changing?
There is a proverb saying, “black will take no other hue.” This sentence is very much applicable regarding the police of Bangladesh. Most of the appointments of junior post of police are allegedly based on politics or in exchange for money. Even posting and promotion are also based on political blessing or money. It is customary for the police to have a political identity or blessing for postings, promotion, and prize.
Besides, they have to maintain political lobby to stay in postings of choice and for drawing money, which they have spent for the boss or political leaders for posting. So, it is difficult to have support from the police as the fault lies in the root. For changing the police, it is necessary to change the whole system.
The people started to love the police men and women for their humanitarian activities at the beginning of the pandemic. In fact, police are not alone responsible for their ill-reputation. They have no duty time-table and are on call 24 hours a day. Thus they are exhausted.
The corrupt people’s representatives and bureaucrats of the country used police for their vested interests. This led to negative activities of the police and they become powerful in the wrong way.
It is necessary to change the total mind-set of police, and it is linked to political commitment for the good of the people and the country. Only patriotism can change police and the whole system, gradually going into the hands of evil forces.
(Muhammad Nuray Alam is a journalist and researcher )