IT IS not surprising that the investigation of the arson attack on the camp of the Urdu-speaking people at Kalshi, Mirpur in the capital on June 14, 2014, which left at least 10 Urdu-speaking people dead, has slowed down. Several hundred Urdu-speaking people on Friday held protests, marking five years of the incident in which they were shot at in the presence of police personnel. They called on the government to engage the Police Bureau of Investigation to complete the investigation. The Urdu-Speaking Youth Rehabilitation Movement Bangladesh president, who led the protest, said that they had submitted a note to home minister on Thursday, demanding justice. They, as New Age reported on Saturday, also threatened to wage a movement if the investigation the way it is demanded was not initiated in 15 days. The Urdu-speaking community living in the Kurmitola refugee camp five years ago came under an arson attack, coupled with gunfire, allegedly by local musclemen in a bid to grab their land when nine members of a family were shot dead. The other was shot dead in the protests against the attack.
The Amnesty International, on an investigation, released a statement on August 12, 2014 with a call for the government to protect the minority Urdu-speaking community. While there is strong evidence that those responsible for committing the human rights abuses against the Urdu-speaking people are Bangladeshis living in an adjacent community, as the statement said, the police have arrested only the Urdu-speaking people. Although the police said that they had filed a case against 1,754 unnamed people in connection with the killing, no one is known to have been investigated. The police role, during and after the killing, has also been questionable. The law enforcers are also reported to have been hostile towards, and even to have threatened, the Urdu-speaking community. Such hostility towards the camp dwellers and the slow pace of investigation seem to make sense when juxtaposed with the alleged involvement of some members of the Juba League, the youth front of the ruling Awami League, in the attack, that too, at the behest of a local Awami League lawmaker. Moreover, the Awami League-led government does not seem to be perturbed with the slow pace in identifying and arresting the offenders. The National Human Rights Commission also claimed that the government was seemingly trying to escape its responsibility as some of its people were blamed for the attack.
Such a perception will linger until and unless the government acts in earnest to ensure that the perpetrators of the killing are brought to justice. The incumbents need to earnestly act also because the killing has put the nation’s image at stake insofar as protection of the rights of minority communities — ethnic, religious, linguistic, etc — is concerned.
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