THE death of suspected drug pedlars in the controversial drives against drug substances is an affront to the justice delivery system. Despite widespread criticism from all quarters in society, extrajudicial killing in the name of drug control continues. At least 186 people, as New Age reported on Monday, were killed in ‘gunfight’ with the law enforcement agencies or ‘gangland fight’. The most recent incident of such ‘gunfight’ took place in Satkhira on Sunday in which two suspected drug pedlars were killed while they were in the custody of the police. The law enforcers iterated the same story that the victims were members of inter-district drug peddling racket and were killed in ‘gunfight’ when they took them to unearth the racket. However, families of the victims brushed aside the police claims and alleged that the victims were innocent and were not involved in the drug trafficking or peddling. In some cases, families have alleged that the victims were picked up by people identifying themselves as law enforcers before the reported ‘gunfight.’ The way the law enforcement agencies are running this drive in breach of the crime suspect’s right to trial, it becomes obvious that they have no regard for the justice system.
In the context of ongoing drive against drug substances and continued killing of people suspected of being involved in drug peddling in ‘gunfight’, citizens raised questions about the intention of the drive and asked whether the operation was in place to serve political purposes other than containing drug abuse. Members of the Democratic Left Alliance at a protest meeting alleged that extrajudicial killings during the drive against drug substances was not seeking to curb drug menace but to instil fear in the public to facilitate its cakewalk to the forthcoming elections. Rights organisations reported incidents in which the police were involved in planting drug in places to extort money from ordinary people. On Thursday, two police officers were detained in Manikganj for planting drug in the pocket of a local day-labourer. Rights groups have also raised questions about the wholesale arrest in the name of drug control and alleged that the police and the Rapid Action Battalion were using the drive to run arrest business. It is, therefore, not surprising that people have lost confidence in the drive against drug substances and consider it to be a dangerous attempt at legitimising extrajudicial killing.
The prevailing situation is a testament to the fact that law enforcement and the justice delivery system have failed to ensure citizens’ constitutional right to life and justice, a situation which calls for an immediate attention of the government. People, particularly experts, must make their voice loud and clear to the government that anyone, suspected or accused of crimes, has the right to trial and the killing of crime suspects in police custody, as was the case in the most recent incident of ‘gunfight’, amounts to murder; and perpetrators must be held to account.
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