Lynching points to a pervasive sense of insecurity
THE killing of five suspected robbers by the mob at a village in Comilla Wednesday morning could be the manifestation of a simmering sense of insecurity in society in view of the alarming downslide in law and order, and also widespread anger and frustration with the sustained failure of law enforcement agencies to ensure public safety and security. According to a report front-paged in New Age on Thursday, the villagers cordoned off a house on being warned that a robbery was going on there. As the armed band of 12-15 robbers tried to shoot their way through the cordon, one madrassah student was killed and at least 10 persons were injured. However, the villagers managed to catch six suspected robbers and beat five of them to death; the other was handed over to the police in a critical condition. Incidentally, the incident took place a few hours before a judicial magistrate’s court in Dhaka took cognisance of a case related to the killing of six young men, who were beaten to death at Aminbazar in Savar on July 18, 2012 on the suspicion that they were about to commit robbery. Of course, the six young men turned out to be students while the five killed in Comilla on Wednesday may actually have been involved in the robbery as claimed by the police. However, both incidents are essentially similar in the propensity of the people to take law into their own hands, to resort to extrajudicial actions in the name of protecting their life and property, which is frightening.
In recent times, there has been a marked deterioration in law and order across the country, with a steep surge in every type of crime — murder and rape, abduction and rape, robbery and mugging, etc. While the people at large generally perceive the law enforcement agencies to have failed miserably to ensure public safety and security, key functionaries of the government and top law enforcers have repeatedly claimed unprecedented improvement in law and order. Such claims could very well have been misconstrued by the people as the lack of seriousness and sincerity of the government and the law enforcers in respect of effective maintenance of law and order, and led many, if not most, to believe that they are on their own when it comes to protection of their life and property. Little wonder then, people have put in place their own security arrangements in many residential and commercial areas. Meanwhile, extrajudicial killing, in various forms, by members of the law enforcement agencies has continued with impunity and on the pretext of ‘self-defence’. As such, it would be hardly surprising if some people, especially those inclined to taking law into their own hands, actually believe meting out punishment extra-judicially is acceptable.
Suffice it to say, any extrajudicial action, be it by law enforcers or ordinary citizens, is an anathema and undermines the very concept of the rule of law, which dictates that a person is innocent until proven guilty in an established court of law. Unless checked, such actions could ultimately weaken the very fabric of the state and society.
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