INDEPENDENCE Day, the 50th which came amidst worries and threats of the new coronavirus, having infected 39 by Wednesday and left five dead, prompting almost a countrywide shutdown, came with two unpalatable incidents — the death of a man at Biral in Dinajpur reportedly caused by police firing on Wednesday night into a group of workers demanding their payment in arrears as the mill was closed without notice and the death of a man in police custody at Amtali in Barguna on Thursday morning reportedly for the family’s failure ‘to pay Tk 300,000 in bribe’ to the law enforcers. Both the incidents involve the police and show their high-handedness, that too in the time of a grave situation of national importance. As the country was set to go on a 10-day holiday — a holiday for five days, in fact, added to the Independence Day holiday and two weekends — workers of Rupali Jute Mills went on demonstrations after the mill had been closed without any notice and without the workers being paid their dues in arrears, which they would need in coming days of hardship. After a meeting that ended without any solution, the workers went on demonstrations, leading to chases between the workers and the police, who then fired gunshots and the man died.
In the Barguna incident, the man, reported to have been detained from his house on March 23 in connection with the case of a murder that happened in 2019 in which his step-brother is said to be accused, is reported to have died from torture in the police station. While the police say that it was ‘an act of suicide’, which questions the happening because it beats logic that someone detained would commit suicide in a police station, the family says that the man was tortured to death because of the family’s inability at paying ‘Tk 300,000 in bribe’ to the police, about which the police have had no comments. In the Dinajpur incident, the police on Thursday filed a case against 1,100 unnamed people on charges of murder, the obstruction of and assault on the police and a police investigation has been asked to submit a report in seven working days. In the Barguna incident, the inspector (investigation) of the police station and the duty officer have been suspended and a police investigation has been set about. While the authorities concerned should launch independent investigations to establish what happened in both the incidents, as the police investigating the police may not entirely be without any bias, the police in the Dinajpur incident coming to have filed the cases against such a huge number of people unnamed appears to be a ploy to intimidate people. The early March incident in which border guards filed a case against 89 villagers, who included 19 being named that had four villagers who are said to have died in a firing by the border guards and the February 2019 incident in which border guards fired into villagers at Haripur in Thakurgaon leaving three dead could well resemble the Dinajpur incident at hand.
The government must, therefore, set about independent investigations of both the incidents at hand, make the investigation reports public and act on the reports to stop the recurrence of such happening. The government must also rein in the law enforcement agencies.
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