IT IS unacceptable that the Rapid Action Battalion, investigating the murder of 17-year-old Tanwir Muhammad Tawki, has not yet submitted the charge sheet in eight years since March 2013, when he went missing and was found dead. The battalion was assigned to investigate the murder on a High Court order in May 2013 as Tawki’s father filed a petition seeking the court’s intervention in the investigation. In March 2014, the battalion said that it had found, based on statements of two of the suspects made under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 11 people involved in the murder and it would submit the charge sheet soon. Eight years later, the battalion now claims, as it did many times before, that it is investigating the case with ‘due importance’ but could not confirm when the investigation would end and charges would be pressed. In a protest in Narayanganj on Saturday, Santras Nirmul Mancha termed the delay ‘intentional’ and blamed the culture of impunity for the stalled investigation.
Stalling the submission of charges appears to be a display of inefficiency as much as unwillingness of relevant authorities, only giving rise to concern. In 2013, speculation was rife that the group involved in the murder of theatre activist Didarul Alam Chanchal, businessman Ashik Islam, Bhulu Saha and Shahidul Islam killed Tawki as well. The fact that the five murders took place in Narayanganj at a short interval and what victim families encountered in the legal system being somewhat similar lent credence to the perception that it was because of the involvement of someone close to the ruling party, investigators are delaying the investigation. Such perceptions are also rife in other sensational murders including the murder of journalist couple Sagar Sarowar and Meherun Runi who were found dead in their flat in Dhaka on February 11, 2012 and of Sohagi Jahan Tonu, a student of Victoria College in Cumilla who was found dead inside the Cumilla cantonment after being raped on March 20, 2016. The delay in legal process in all such cases leaves the families of the victims being denied justice. It is contributing to a declining public trust in justice dispensation system and creating scope for the recurrence of similar incidents.
In order to prove that justice is an equal public good, the government should immediately make arrangement for a speedy trial of Tawki’s murder and, thus, end the culture of impunity. It must, therefore, rise above partisan interests, if any, and complete the investigation of all such crimes and submit charge sheets in all such cases at the earliest. An early investigation and trial, fair and credible, has already become overdue to advance the rule of law in all the cases in question.
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