The plight of human rightsby Israfil Khosru
AFTER the brutal public murder of Bishwajit Das, the issue of human rights seem to have taken a front seat in our national discussions. It needs to be mentioned that before this reprehensible act even took place, the year 2012 saw inestimable incidents of gross human rights violation. Apart from the countless ones that did not even make it to the national media, the sensational murder of the journalist couple Sagar-Runi and the unsolved disappearance of Elias Ali especially comes to mind. However, all these incidents directly point to a correlation between human rights and the law and order situation that is currently prevailing in Bangladesh. Recently, in parallel with the Delhi gang-rape incident, several cases of abuse against women have also come to light in our country. Needless to say, such incidents are happening unabated in both rural and urban areas far beyond the sight of the media and the authorities and hence is a direct reflection of law and order downslide nationwide.
Accepting the fact that the year 2012 was one of the worst years in an already collapsing law and order trend, it is absolutely urgent to have some understanding as to why such a regression is taking place. The first reason quite obviously point to the incapacity of our law enforcement agencies to create an environment where the citizens feel secure and protected. On the flipside, it has provided miscreants and the criminal elements within society with an opportunity to thrive and gain immunity. Public perception of the police does not encourage much confidence and trust. It is a force that is widely seen as corrupt and unremittingly politically motivated. It is also an outfit that is seriously underfunded and necessarily does not have the resources to deliver. Often the credibility of police investigations of certain high-profile cases has been questioned and come under public scrutiny. The Sagar-Runi case is a prime example in this regard. It needs to be noted that other investigating agencies have failed to crack this case and currently the Rapid Action Battalion has been entrusted with the responsibility to deliver. However, nothing concrete seems to have surfaced so far. Given the sorry state of a case of such magnitude, one does not need to ponder or delve into the status of innumerable cases that are not even in the public eye. There has been no mentionable lead on the Elias Ali disappearance as well and so far no one has been arrested. Finally, the case of Bishwajit merely was a reflection of the state’s failure to protect its citizens through strict implementation of the law and proper management of its law enforcement agencies.
If the incapability of our law enforcement agencies and government authorities is the prime reason behind escalation of human rights violation in our country then delay or denial of justice is definitely the second. One might argue that the culture of immunity that is increasingly becoming a status quo in our beloved country is what actually killed Bishwajit. While Bishwajit’s family is awaiting justice, we have seen the home minister attempting to disown the perpetrators as members of the Bangladesh Chhatra League, the students’ front of the ruling Awami League, and predictably politicise the matter. Such statements can only be deemed to be shameful and irresponsible. Furthermore, such comments do not create any confidence in terms of deliverance of justice. Justice begins with a fair probe and so far it has been grossly missing from all the cases mentioned. Infiltration of politics in the functioning of the law enforcement agencies is one of the prime obstructions that often impede justice and it has taken an astronomical shape in the past couple of years. Delaying justice, as the saying goes, amounts to denying it.
Human rights violation is directly proportional to the prevailing law and order situation in this country. The state needs to create an example urgently to gain people’s confidence and prevent such continuous violation of human rights. In order to create an example, the government needs to stamp its strong resolve and commitment to protecting its citizens by strengthening its law enforcement agencies and ensuring justice. A few good examples can actually go a long way in deterring the negative elements within our society from committing heinous acts of crime and atrocities. Once the people start seeing the law enforcement agencies as an ally freed from the grasp of politics, half the work will be done. The image of an innocent Bishwajit being hacked to death is something we as a nation would like to forget. Such cruelty and mercilessness cannot be justified at any cost. If we do not want to see such image in the future it is imperative that we withdraw from this culture of immunity. All it takes is strong political will.
Israfil Khosru is a businessman and runs a youth led think tank called The Bangladeshi.
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