ALLEGATIONS of police brutality and misconduct of law enforcement agencies continue to remain legally unresolved in the country. In this context, the order of the Jhalakati court, as reported in New Age on Monday, to conduct a fresh investigation into the 2011 shooting of Limon Hossain by the Rapid Action Battalion is a welcome move. Hossain, a college student at the time, was in the fields near his village in Jhalakati on March 23, 2011, when members of RAB shot him in the left leg taking him for a notorious criminal it was looking for. On the same day, Rab filed two false cases against him for possessing arms and obstructing law enforcers. Four days later, his injured leg was amputated from the thigh at a government hospital as the tissues of the left leg were totally damaged due to excessive bleeding caused by delay in his treatment. Three weeks later, Hossain’s mother filed a case accusing five RAB men of attempted murder and maiming his son. The initial police investigation concluded that the no evidence of RAB involvement in Hossain’s shooting was found. Hossain’s mother challenged the police report and the recent court order came accepting her review petition. The order opened up opportunities for redressing the wrongs done to Hossain and securing justice for him. However, question still remains about the failure of the law enforcement agencies in finding the real perpetrators in due course.
Even more tragic is that Hossain’s ordeal did not end with the amputation of his leg. Every step of the way, in his journey to seek justice, his family faced obstacles; procedural violation was widely reported in media. Initially, local police refused to register a complaint against the RAB personnel. Later, the family secured an order from the court that asked local police to file a case against the accused. While Hossain suffered in jail hospital on false charges and struggled with the legal system, the police issued a report finding no evidence of RAB involvement in Hossain’s shooting on August 14, 2012. Meanwhile, police submitted charge sheet against him; he was even indicted in court for the crimes he never committed. In the face of pressure from local and international human rights groups, the government in July, 2013, issued a gazette notification for withdrawing the two cases the elite force had filed against him. What is shocking is that the charges against him were dropped, but no direction was given by the government to investigate the procedural violation and systematic failure of the law enforcement agencies in bringing the perpetrators to book.
It is absolutely unacceptable that a young boy from a working class background had to struggle against the state machinery for nearly seven years to expose the failure of the system. The government must ensure that the court ordered fresh investigation is conducted in a judicious manner. The endemic nature of torture in Bangladesh’s law-enforcement system must be contained.
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