Allegations of torture, extortion, intimidation, crossfire threats and extrajudicial killings have been surfacing against many police officers since the killing of former army major Sinha Mohammad Rashed Khan.
At least seven police station officer-in-charges across the country have been withdrawn while some others — from superintendent to sub-inspectors — are facing cases on charges of extortion, custodial torture and crossfire threats after the former army officer was killed.
Some senior police officers told New Age that officers and field-level members of the law enforcement agency were in despair since the killing of the major and many of them were fearing cases as more people are tending to lodge cases against cops on different charges.
They said that the police had built a good image and reputation for their voluntary activities since the outbreak of COVID-19, but that was tarnished after the killing of Sinha with more and more allegations emerging against the force members.
Human rights watchdog Ain o Salish Kendra’s chairperson ZI Khan Panna told New Age that people became aware since the killing of Sinha and are daring to file cases against police abuses.
Sinha was killed by police at a checkpoint on Cox’s Bazar–Teknaf Marine Drive at Shamlapur in Cox’s Bazar on July 31.
Amid criticisms and allegation of extrajudicial killing, Teknaf OC Pradeep Kumar Das and some other cops of the police station were withdrawn on August 5 and were arrested the following day.
The OC of Bamna police station in Barguna, Ilias Hossain Talukder, was withdrawn on Tuesday for slapping an assistant sub-inspector, who had reportedly refused to charge batons on protesting students during a recent human chain programme against the arrest of Stamford University student Shahedul Islam Sifat, a companion of the slain retired major.
Police authorities suspended Cox’s Bazar Sadar police station OC Abu Mohammad Sahajan Kabir on Tuesday following the death a youth in the custody of the police station.
Netrakona’s Durgapur police station OC Mizanur Rahman was withdrawn and attached to the Netrakona police lines for beating a Juba league leader inside the police station on Monday evening.
Earlier on August 9, Pabna’s Aminpur police station OC Mainuddin was withdrawn and attached to the district police lines following an allegation of leaking call records of some local government representatives for money.
Mithapukur police station OC Zafar Ali Biswas was withdrawn on August 8 for negligence in duty.
It is alleged that he was withdrawn following the death of a night guard in the beating by some grocers at Shatibari Bazar in Mithapukur.
In the latest incident, Lalmonirhat Sadar police station OC Mahfuz Alam was withdrawn on Thursday after a video footage went viral on social media of the police officer taking bribe after sanitising his hands.
A businessman on Wednesday filed a case against Rajshahi range police superintendent Belayet Hossain with the Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Court accusing him of extortion and physical assault.
Belayet and 16 people in plainclothes took businessman Golam Mostafa to the Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s Detective Branch office and tortured him for money after extorting money from his father in several occasions, according to the case documents.
Dhaka Metropolitan magistrate Didar Hossain directed the Police Bureau of Investigation to probe the case and submit its report by November 1.
ASK chairperson ZI Khan Panna said that some police members had established a good reputation through their humanitarian activities amid the COVID-19 crisis.
But, he added, due to the negligence and vested interest of some senior officers, the force is now facing an image crisis as more and more police abuse incidents are surfacing.
An extortion case was filed against five members of the capital’s Kotwali police station on Monday as a trader of Keraniganj accused that the cops realised Tk 3.5 lakh from him with a ‘crossfire’ threat.
The following day, a case was filed against five policemen of Akhaura police station in Brahmanbaria for extorting money by threatening to kill a Bangladeshi expatriate in ‘crossfire’.
On Thursday, a shop owner filed a case against an SI of Kadamtoli police station in Dhaka and eight others on charge of abduction and extortion.
The shop owner alleged that the cop threatened to frame him in narcotics and arms cases and took away Tk 1 lakh and goods from his shop.
Former Dhaka Metropolitan Police commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia told New Age that some people were lodging cases against police members against the backdrop of Sinha killing.
He said that pressures on the police force intensified since the shooting death of Sinha and some real criminals were capitalising the situation to their advantage.
He, however, said that the force must get reorganised and strengthen its command structure after the recent criticisms.
When approached on Thursday, police headquarters assistant inspector general for media Sohel Rana said that he has sent queries to concerned department and would respond later.
Meanwhile, in a press statement on Thursday, Bangladesh Police Service Association complained that a vested group was active to influence and hinder the legal process in the Sinha murder case by using various social media platforms, including Facebook, Youtube, and also some print and electronic media outlets.
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