War on drug is right but victims must get right to self defense
Faruque Ahmed
26 Jun,2018

The war on drug is going on in full swing. The death toll all over the country is steadily rising every day. Security forces reported 16 killed in the night before Wednesday in several districts with the total death hitting over132. The number of arrestees stood over ten thousands so far.

Shock waves have gripped the nation prompting the debate whether such indiscriminate killing in police firing in the darkness of night is acceptable without due legal process of law.

People don’t want that the country to be flooded by yaba and such other drugs adding criminal violence in the society but they also want to see that the rule of law be allowed to give victims the right to self-defense. The way police are killing people is clearly extra-judicial killing in open defiance to the rule of law and constitutional guarantee of the person’s right to life without fair trial.

Its denial is creating an anarchy like situation in the country where not the rule of law but the barrel of the gun is running the nation. We still claim to be a democracy and a civilized society can’t allow to give people to crossfire without due trial. Most people being killed this way are in fact dying innocent for failing to take cover of the law, nobody can deny it. 

Human rights bodies at home and abroad have already raised voice against such arbitrary killing in the name of war on drug. Nobody is against eliminating  drug network and such criminals but many believe summarily killing a person is not clearly serving the purpose.

The application of the legal system would allow the suspect to make deposition in the court of law and that could lead to full exposure of the drug network and the godfathers behind it. 

Their summary killing is shielding the big drug lords. They are remaining behind the scene and will take no time to recruit new dealers and peddlers to run the business in full swing. Killing of low level drug dealers seems to be an eyewash as long as big fishes will remain beyond the reach of the law. Illegal killing will not end illegal trade. It has developed under the shelter of the ruling party men and killing small fries will make no impact at the end. Many believe there may be other motives behind it. 

The US ambassador in Dhaka Marcia Bernicat told Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal on Wednesday only arresting the kingpins can make the drive a success. Diplomats at a meeting with Awami League leaders on last Monday in city also raised the issue asking the government to respect human rights and victims’ rights to self-defense.

One thing has become established is that the list of suspects that the police are following in carrying out night time raids and putting people to crossfire and then claiming that they have died in gunfight is highly controversial. The home ministry list seems to be biased many ways targeting many innocents as well. 

The killing of Telhnaf Municipality councilor by RAB last week appears to have been based on wrong information. His father’s name and local address were not true and RAB confessed it now but hold on the claim that he was a drug lord in the area known as gate way to yaba trafficking from Myanmar across the border.

But locals said Ekramul – a ruling party man, three time elected councilor and president of many local trade bodies was an honest person and knowingly had no link with drug trafficking. Even Tekhnaf Police Station said they had no police case or diary against him linked to drug trafficking.

But RAB had picked up him from his home and gunned down on last Saturday night at local Marine Drive and next morning said he died in gun battle while running a yaba consignment to Cox’s Bazar town.

The incident has not only tarnished the image of RAB as trustworthy law enforcers but also raised question on the credibility of the list prepared by the home ministry.

It appears that the list has dropped the name of Badiur Rahman Bodi – the local ruling party MP and a known drug lord from the list of suspect although his name was in five other intelligence agencies reports of dreaded drug barons.

The Home Minister also defended Bodi saying other lists were not based on facts. That prompted human rights activist Sultana Kamal to raise the question that killing of other suspects based on such list also seems to be controversial.

Locals wonder how Bodi’s name was dropped while Ekramul name – who appears to be innocent came up in the list of suspects prepared by the home ministry. Ekramul was reportedly vocal against Bodi’s drug trade and many wonder if it were an act to eliminate the rival.     

So people believe there is no alternative to transparency in running the war on drug to screen out the real culprits. Relatives of most gun down cases claim victims were picked up from home and then put the blame of gunfight or internal clash among drug gangs to justify their killing. It is true many of them may be real drug peddlers but the state can’t deny them their right to fair trial. The nightmarish situation must come to an end.