Ongoing drive against drugs is questionable, says Bangladesh opposition

Ongoing drive against drugs is questionable, says Bangladesh opposition
Police started an all-out operation against the country’s drug dealers on May 14, which took around 132 lives. (AFP)
Updated 05 June 2018

Ongoing drive against drugs is questionable, says Bangladesh opposition

Ongoing drive against drugs is questionable, says Bangladesh opposition
  • Police started an all-out operation against the country’s drug dealers on May 14, which took around 132 lives
  • Many Bangladeshis, including the opposition party leaders, consider the ongoing anti-narcotics drive as “unacceptable”

DHAKA: Many Bangladeshis, including the opposition party leaders, consider the ongoing anti-narcotics drive as “unacceptable” and demanded that the drive is run under the country’s legal framework.
Police started an all-out operation against the country’s drug dealers on May 14, which took around 132 lives.
Dr. M. Enamul Huq, former inspector general of police, said the objective of this anti-narcotics drive is very good and praiseworthy but the process is “questionable.” Enamul, who is also a former executive committee member of Interpol, said: “In many ‘shootout’ cases, law-enforcing agencies’ members are not fully following the existing laws and regulations of the country.”
Since Bangladesh is a member of the UN, we also need to comply with the international laws. “Whatever the term is — ‘extrajudicial killing’ or ‘crossfire’ — people have the right to defend or protect themselves. But unfortunately in many cases we are unable to allow the accused even an hour before their death,” Enamul added.
Khushi Kabir, one of the country’s renowned human rights activists, said an anti-drugs movement is always appreciated, but we need a transparent judgment process for the accused. She said that in this anti-drug movement only the “drug carriers” are being held by the law enforcers; the drug dealer godfathers are still untouched and remained under the curtain. “We strongly oppose any killing in the name of ‘encounters’ or ‘crossfire’… and what is now happening in the country is a gross violation of human rights.”
Advocate Ahmed Aazam Khan, vice chairperson of the country’s largest opposition party BNP, said that drugs have spread like “an epidemic” throughout the country. They have spoiled the youth of the country down to grassroots level. He blamed the past 10 years of ruling party Awami League’s regime for worsening the country’s drugs situation.
“But we have enough fear and questions about the timing of this anti-drug drive. The government has made a way out to suppress and intimidate the opposition workers through this drive,” Khan said.
He termed the latest movement a “motivated” approach of the government. “In the name of an anti-narcotics drive, no one will support the political killings,” he added.
Kashem Humayun, managing editor of daily newspaper “Sangbad,” said that the anti-drugs movement is a continuous process and should go on throughout the year. Although he did not see any “political move” in these anti-drug operations; he was strongly against any incidents of “crossfire.”
Humayun said: “If needed, we can form a summary trial to ensure the earliest judgment for these accused. Otherwise there are many chances of being abused through extrajudicial killings.”
He believes that only the front-line operators are held during the ongoing operations. But the law enforcers need to curb the drugs “at source” by taking stern action against the main culprits. “Crossfire” may provide a good temporary result but in the long run it will not bring any good to society, the veteran journalist said.
From the outset of this drive around 132 people have been killed during “gunfights” with the law enforcers. All of them were branded drug peddlers. Amid the controversy of the killing of a ruling party leader named Akram, a city councilor of Teknaf, Cox’s Bazar, there had been no new “shootout” incidents in the past 36 hours.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has declared her firm determination to stop the drug dealers and vowed to continue the anti-drugs movement.
In a press conference in Dhaka last week, she said: “I can only say that we’re not considering who are ‘godfathers’ or who are ‘dons’. Actions are being taken against those who are involved in drug-dealing and trading, and have such allegations against them.”
She strongly said that no one will be spared. “I can say this as whenever I deal with something, I deal with an iron hand,” she said.