HC issues directives to stop lynching in Bangladesh

Absence of rule of law, delay in justice delivery, extrajudicial killings cause lynching, say experts

M Moneruzzaman | Published: 00:16, Mar 02,2020 | Updated: 00:41, Mar 02,2020


The High Court Division on Sunday issued four directives to the government and the law enforcement agencies including to identify the reasons behind lynching to stop it.

The court issued the directives after at least eight innocent people were lynched in July 2019 including the mother of four-year Talisma Begum Renu on suspicion that they were child lifters.

The rumours were  that they were lifting children to sacrifice them to dedicate their heads on the piers of the under construction Padma Bridge, according to a report released by the Police Headquarters in July.

In 2019, at least 54 people were lynched and 44 of them in July 2019, according to Ain o Salish Kendra.

Dhaka University’s law professor Mizanur Rahman told New Age on Sunday that lynching continued as ‘there is no rule of law, undue delays in completing trials of criminals for which they are often escape punishment’.

He said that lack of good governance and of accountability of those responsible for bringing the perpetrators to justice were also responsible for people to take the law in their own hands to go for instant punishments out of frustration. 

Rights lawyer Shahdeen Malik said that people get encouraged to kill people after they see the  law enforcement personnel were murdering crime suspects by way of extra-judicial killings in the name of cross-fire, encounters and gunfights since the operation clean-heart occurred in 2002.

He also said that people thought that if law enforcement personnel could kill suspected criminals why the common folks ‘can’t do it’. 

He said that people were taking the path of  extra-judicial killings out of  frustration that there would be no trial and punishment of criminals. 

The High Court Division also directed each and every circle assistant superintendent of police to perform additional special duty to prevent lynching.

The ASPs were also asked to hold regular meeting at least one in every month with the local intelligence units and the concerned police station officers-in-charge to identify the reasons behind the tendency of lynching.

The court directed the police to record cases immediately after occurrence of lynching under the jurisdiction of the police stations and immediately notify the special officer in charge of the circles.

The court directed the home ministry to take necessary measures to make people aware though the electronic and other media platforms about lynching and to stop the spread of explosive messages, videos and other materials on various social media platforms which could  incite mob violence and identify the perpetrators of these heinous acts.

The court also directed the district education officers to investigate into the  negligence of Uttar Badda Govt Primary School’s headmaster about the death of mother Taslima Begum Renu in mob lynching.

A bench of Justice Sheikh Hassan Arif and Justice Md Mahmud Hassan Talukder issued the directives after disposing of a public interest litigation writ petition of Supreme Court lawyer Ishrat Hasan after Taslima Begum Renu was lynched on July20,  2019 when she was on her way to Uttar Badda Government Primary School for the  admission of her four-year old daughter.

The incident sent shock waves across the nation and the PIL writ petition was filed in August 2019.

Nasir Uddin Tito, Taslima’s nephew filed a murder case against 400 to 500 unknown people with the Badda police station.

The inspector general of police informed the court that 14 suspects were arrested in Taslima lynching case, now under investigation.  

The IGP also informed the court that police were carrying out awareness campaigns to prevent lynching.

IGP Mohammad Javed Patwari said at a press conference at the police headquarters in the capital on July 24, 2019 that all the people killed in mob violence  on suspicions that they were child lifters were found to be innocent through investigations by the police.

The mob violence since July 2019 prompted the police headquarters to request the public on July 20 not to pay heed to the rumours and not to take the law in their own hands.

As the mob beating continued, the PHQ on July 22 directed its unit chiefs and superintendents of police to create public awareness  to stop mob violence.

‘People responsible for spreading rumours will be dealt with iron hands, no matter who they are or how strong they are,’ the IGP said at his press conference.

He said that already 60 Facebook page links, 25 Youtube links and 10 news portals had been blocked for spreading such rumours.

A total of 31 cases were filed against 103 people across the country for spreading rumours, said the IGP.

At least 1,164 people were lynched between January 2009 and July 24, 2019 across the country despite government initiatives to stop the menace, according to data compiled by rights organisations.

According to rights body Odhikar data a total of 1,150 people were killed in mob violence between January 2009 and June 30, 2018. Of them, 127 people were murdered in 2009, 174 in 2010, 161 in 2011, 132 in 2012, 125 in 2013, 116 in 2014, 132 in 2015, 53 in 2016, 47 in 2017, 48 in 2018 and 35 in the first six months of 2019.

The data compiled by Ain o Salish Kendra shows that a total of 840 people were killed between January 1, 2011 and July 24, 2018. Of them, 370 people or about 44 per cent of the total victims were killed in mob violence in Dhaka division alone.

ASK data shows that 134 people were killed in 2011, 126 in 2012, 128 in 2013, 127 in 2014, 135 in 2015, 51 in 2016, 50 in 2017, 39 in 2018 and 50  in the first seven months of 2019.

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