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Murders, extrajudicial killings on rise

Iqbal Mahmud and MH Maswood

Incidents of extrajudicial killing and political and other types of murder appeared to have increased alarmingly in the capital and across the country in recent days.
Incidents of killing are reported almost every day and in several cases people are either being killed or found dead after being picked up.
At least 14 people have been shot dead by lawmen in the name of joint forces’ drives since January 6, a day after the 10th parliamentary polls.
Since January 6, at least 138 people, including 32 political leaders and activists, were reported killed or found dead.
Among the political victims, 11 were leaders and activists of Bangladesh Nationalist Party, nine each were from Awami League and Jamaat-e-Islami and three belonged to Jatiya Party.
BNP and Jamaat men were mostly found dead or shot dead in ‘encounters’ during joint forces’ drives. The Awami League men were killed by unidentified assailants or in fictional clashes.
Human rights activists and criminologists viewed the situation as ‘outrageous’. They blamed the ‘unusual’ elections as being one of the prime reasons for the incidents.
Even, according to the data of the police headquarters, 2013 was the most turbulent year in the last decade, when 4,393 murders were recorded – the highest in a single year over the period.
Police headquarters’ crime data also showed that the number of killings had increased in recent months. In September last year, at least 376 murders were recorded and the number was 353 in October, 354 in November and 404 in December.
The data provided by Dhaka Metropolitan Police also showed a rising incidents of killing in recent months. In December last year, 33 murders were recorded in the capital; the number was 20 each in November and October while 19 people were killed in September.
In a latest such incident, a union level Juba Dal leader, Manik Hossain, 45, was stabbed to death by unidentified assailants in his house at Sannyashibada village in Bera upazila of Pabna early Monday.
A group of 6-7 assailants forced their way into the house of Manik, former Juba Dal president of Rooppur union unit, around 2:00am, and stabbed him repeatedly leaving him dead on the spot, said Aminpur police officer-in-charge Faruque Hossain.
Earlier on Sunday, Three local leaders and activists of Jamaat-e-Islami and Islami Chhatra Shibir were shot dead in separate ‘encounters’ with law enforcers in Jhenaidah and Satkhira.
Two BNP activists were found dead in Nilphamari on January 18 and 20 after a case was filed enlisting them as prime accused in a case of attack on the motorcade of Awami League leader Asaduzzaman Noor in Nilphamari, that had left five people dead.
Sultana Kamal, executive director of human rights watchdog Ain-o-Salish Kendra, condemned any acts of extrajudicial killing. In a press statement, the rights group said that they had recorded at least 15 incidents of extrajudicial killing, most of them Jamaat-Shibir men, by law enforcement agencies in January.
‘Extrajudicial killings particularly by state forces could in no way be accepted. ASK insists on resolution of conflicts of all kinds and gravity through due judicial and constitutional process,’ Sultana Kamal said and demanded an immediate end to such killings.
Md Ashraful Alam, chairman of criminology and police science at Maulana Bhashani Science and Technology University, said that an unusual situation was still prevailing since Bangladesh did not witness a ‘normal change’ through participatory elections.
‘Usually when a government assumes power without popular support and through a non-participatory election, they try to hold it by force; consequently, they use state forces which might result in killing of opposition men,’ said Alam.
He said that before the January 5 polls, there were allegations against the opposition that they had unleashed violence. But since the polls, the opposition does not seem to have taken any violent programmes while murders and extrajudicial killings continued.
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party on January 22 alleged that 294 leaders and activists of the BNP-led alliance had been killed and 187 abducted in last three months.
The acting BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir at a press conference on the day had also alleged that bodies of 10 people, who, he said, were victims of extrajudicial killings, were found in 10 days.
When contacted by phone, inspector general of police Hassan Mahmood Khandkar declined comments on the political killings. He said that there was no scope for law enforcement agencies to act beyond law and judicial procedures.
‘I believe, the members of law enforcement agencies are performing their duties legally in conducting countrywide operations,’ the police chief told New Age.

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