IT IS a matter of serious concern that citizens of Chittagong come to fall prey to muggers. A few days before Eid-ul-Fitr, the law enforcement agencies have failed to protect people from muggers, when they are increasingly on the prowl. Snatchers, robbers and drugging gangs in the port city are targeting Eid shoppers and people withdrawing money from banks, as New Age reported on Wednesday. Muggers are reported to have on the prowl more at 23 major points of the port city area where snatching and mugging incidents have increased alarmingly. The frequency of mugging is so high in the port city that five incident of snatching took place just within the 20 days, from June 5 to June 19. The mugging incidents are not only causing financial losses but also causing physical harm to the victims. A young woman, who was severely wounded by the snatchers on June 13 when she was going for Eid shopping, died from her injuries in Chittagong Medical College Hospital on June 19. Even physicians and patients are not spared. Although the police know that 60 snatchers in three groups are working in the Chittagong city, no action, adequately deterrent, is taken by the police to stop the groups and to arrest their members. What is striking is that the police stations of the port city have no actual record of snatching incidents.
This situation of the port city is, in all likelihood, similar to that in other cities and towns of the country, especially the capital Dhaka. Each year, before Eid, muggers are on the prowl targeting shoppers and reported to victimise ordinary people. When it is expected that the law enforcement agencies will be prepared and take preventive measures to ensure safety for citizens, they remain conspicuously ineffective in most of the cases. Victims in most of the cases do not report such incidents to the police because of distrust and fear of further harassments in police stations while lodging complaint. There are widespread allegations that instead of policing crimes, law enforcement agencies are themselves involved in extortion. The prevailing public mistrust towards the police leaves most cases of mugging unreported and such unreported crimes keep criminals outside the reach of the law and encourage them to become more reckless. Ensuring the safety of citizens is the basic function of the government, but it is evident that the vigilance and patrolling of the law enforcement agencies to prevent mugging are far from adequate.
The government, under the circumstances, must take prompt action to improve law and order. The frequency of patrol and the level of vigilance by law enforcement agencies must be increased around Eid. In the long term, the incumbents must also address the issue of public mistrust towards the law enforcement agencies by what it takes to do it. Moreover, the mechanism to report crimes to the police needs to be people-friendly to ensure that the crimes are timely reported and plans are made to stop the menace.
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