THE law enforcement agencies coming down heavily on the political opponents of the ruling Awami League during the party’s two consecutive tenures in government since 2009 suggests that the police have been used by the government in breach of the promise of keeping the law enforcement agencies outside political influence that it made in its manifestos before the 2008 and the 2014 election. The government has used the law enforcement agencies to stop political parties, other than those in the ruling coalition, from voicing their concerns. The police have also been used in silencing dissenting voice, political or social, that too being expressed in a peaceful manner that is democratic. As the Awami League has failed to keep its promises, the law enforcement agencies keep standing more in conflict with the rule of law and citizen’s rights. In the latest such reported example, the police foiled a procession that the Left Democratic Alliance brought out, early last week of September, demanding free and fair national elections. When the electoral process starts showing signs of weakness, it is only natural that others concerned at such issues would speak up and try to ensure that their concerns are mitigated systematically.
The police are also now reported to have been framing, for some time, opposition leaders and activists some of whom have died and become paralysed or are living abroad in cases filed in connection with incidents reported not to have happened. Most of such cases have been filed since August, gradually increasing in number as days roll by, and ruling Awami League leaders and activists have been named witnesses in many of the cases. This reeks of a government ploy to use the law enforcement agencies to keep opposition leaders and activists at bay before the next general elections scheduled by year-end as much as does this reek of a play of political influence on the law enforcement agencies. An increased number of cases, reported to be ‘false and imaginary’ being filed against opposition leaders and activists, as many seek to say, suggest that a situation like this cannot be possible without the influence of people in power on law enforcement. The Awami League’s political rival Bangladesh Nationalist Party in the first week of October claimed 4,149 ‘fictitious’ cases being filed against 86,692 named and more than 276,000 unnamed BNP leaders and activists between September 1 and October 5.
Such a use of the law enforcement agencies, in beach of the Awami League’s election pledges, is disparaging and unacceptable. The situation is also concerning for the state as the government, as the manager of the state, cannot guarantee protection for the citizens, for the government as the incidents only darken the face of law enforcers and tarnish the system that they work within, and for the citizens as they continue to live in a fearful situation. The government must, under the circumstances, meaningfully attend to all the situations and keep law enforcement outside political influence.
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