The killing of BNP leader raises unpleasant questions

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New Age Editorial 

THE killing of a ward-level leader of the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, whose body was found near an irrigation canal at Adabaria village of Kumarkhali upazila in Kushtia Saturday night a few hours after he had allegedly been picked up by some members of the Rapid Action Battalion from Sailkupa in Jhenaidah, is indeed a matter of grave concern. According to a report front-paged in New Age on Monday, the police have identified strangling as the cause of death and also found a deep wound in the back of the victim’s head. While handcuff used has the word ‘police’ engraved in it, the additional police superintendent of the Kushtia said ‘such handcuffs are available in the market’ and anyone ‘can buy those Polwel market in the capital.’ Although the officer-in-charge of the Sailkupa police station said some unknown men who wore RAB uniforms and were in a white microbus that had a ‘RAB-6’ sticker pasted on its windshield had picked up the BNP leader, the RAB-6 camp commander said his force had made no such arrests.

It appears that the killing of Rafiqul Islam Majumder has put the police and the battalion in a tight spot, not least because the previous president of the same BNP unit, Chowdhury Alam, has remained missing since June 25, 2010 and, in that case, too, the involvement of law enforcement agencies was alleged. Moreover, the law enforcement agencies seem to be trying to create a smokescreen over the killing as they have done in the case of the alleged enforced disappearance. However, not surprisingly, they seem to have raised more questions than they have provided answers. First of all, the law enforcers, according to media reports, have talked of personal enmity behind the killing of Rafiqul Islam. If so, question naturally arises as to why he had been picked up people who wore RAB uniform and were in a vehicle that had a ‘RAB-6’ sticker pasted on its windscreen. Answer to this question is important given the allegations that the battalion is being used to settle personal and partisan scores. It is possible that the people who picked Majumder up may not be members of the battalion. If so, the question to ask is how they managed to get hold of RAB uniforms and the ‘RAB-6’ sticker.

Regrettably, however, other than the outright denial that Majumder was not picked up by his men, the RAB-6 camp commander has thus far provided precious little that could rule out the battalion’s involvement in the killing. Such crafted silence risks being interpreted by the public as nonchalance, especially given the fact that extrajudicial killing by the battalion and some other law enforcement agencies continue despite widespread criticism and condemnation, at home and abroad, and despite several ruling against such killings by the highest judiciary. The people at large may suspect that the sense of impunity has become so entrenched among the law enforcers that they no longer even try to cover up their trail.

That said, it needs to be pointed out that the onus ultimately rests on the incumbents’ shoulder. Given the fact that, in recent times, several opposition leaders and activists have fallen prey to either extrajudicial killing or enforced disappearances, allegedly perpetrated by law enforcers, the incumbents need to come up with a credible explanation and dispel the misgiving that they are using the police or the battalion to settle partisan scores.

The New Age BD 

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