In his ageless book ‘Stride toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story’ (1958), Martin Luther King, Jr., the American civil rights legend, wrote, “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.” And, the oppressed people look for police force, when they seek justice. The presence of the police force brings moral strength and courage in the distressed communities.
We have seen this valiant role of police in our nine-month-long Glorious Liberation War in 1971. Pakistan Army was on rampage in the Dhaka city on the fateful night of 25 March 1971. Thousands of innocent students and people were indiscriminately killed in the Operation Searchlight, the code name of a planned deadly strike on Dhaka, officially launched by the bloodthirsty Pakistan Army on that scary night.
From the first phase of the Liberation War, Rajarbagh police lines became a great headache for the Pakistan Army due to its extreme commitment to the motherland and the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
In his article titled ‘Bangladesh Police in Liberation War’, published in the Daily Star on December 16, 2019, Muhammad Nurul Huda, 17th IGP of Bangladesh Police and a renowned columnist, wrote:
In the above inspiring and historic resistance by Bengali policemen many valiant sons of the soil embraced martyrdom and nearly 150 police personnel of different ranks were captured by the Pakistan Army.
We read several heroic chronicles of our policemen in the liberation war in different notable write-ups of eminent journalists like Neville Anthony Mascarenhas (a British-born Pakistani Journalist and a distinguished author), Sydney Schanberg (the South Asian correspondent of The New York Times), Simon Dring (Reporter of The Daily Telegraph), Cyril John, Michele Roberts and Louis Heren (Reporters of The London Times). Our police members fought against a mammoth Pakistan Armed Force, which was considered as one of the strongest military forces in the world at the then period of time, with simple ammunition and the immense love for the nation. They gave their lives for the freedom of Bangladesh without any hesitation.
Nevertheless, their sacrifices would not go in vain. The nation will always remember its martyred sons, who bravely chose to save the countrymen with mere .303 rifles, with deep respect and honour.
After the liberation, we have seen the valiant roles of the police force in every significant event, be it social, political or, economical, of our country. In all major social gatherings like Baishakhi Mela, Boi Mela, Mangal Shobhajatra, religious programmes, elections etc, we feel relief after seeing the active presence of the police force. Their relentless surveillance (of overall situation) makes the people free from anxiety. Therefore, police force is other name of trust and dependence for the citizenry of our country.
In ‘Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Last Message to the American People’ (1945), Roosevelt, the 32nd president of the United States, who guided America through Great Depression and The World War II, said,
Today we have learned in the agony of war that great power involves great responsibility.
Bengali people have gone through the 1971 war, which was no less tormenting than WWII. The scars of the war have not yet healed among people. They fought for the ‘Sonar Bangla’, where everyone, irrespective of their caste, creed and religion, will be treated equally.
To make our country ‘Sonar Bangla’, which dreamt by our great leader Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, having responsibility and accountability in every professional is essential. Bangladesh police knows its huge responsibility for the underprivileged and repressed people, who suffer from the torture of the influential quarter of the society for long, of our country. Therefore, we see the dynamic role of our law enforcing agencies in the brutal cases like abduction, rape, killings of the poor men, women and children every day. In every case, victims get the first priority to the police force.
When it comes about professionalism, we often give the example of the foreign law enforcement agencies. We watch the Hollywood movies in You Tube and appreciate the activities of different US police forces like Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), New York City Police Department (NYPD), Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) etc. This is a farce indeed. There is a well-known Bengali proverb: Geyo Jogi Bheekh Pay Na (which means people do not value the native sage). Similarly, we do not encourage the good activities of our policemen.
Yes, it is true that the US law enforcement agencies have excellent track records in case of maintaining law and order situation. But, here, we must understand one thing. We have to see the capability in both cases. The USA is the biggest superpower of the world with the second largest economy. Therefore, from the firearms to the patrolling cars, these law enforcement agencies use the latest cutting-age technologies to catch the culprits. On the other hand, our police force has its limitations as our country is a developing one.
Still, the members of Bangladesh police maintain the law and order of the country with admirable professionalism. The comparison between the two forces is completely unjust and ridiculous. If anyone does so, it would be utterly disrespectful to the entire police force.
However, religious extremism and terrorist activities, which pampered by the influential groups of the society, become a great headache for the law enforcement agency throughout the country. On January 3, 2021, Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina appreciated the efforts of our police force in her meeting (Source: Prothom Alo) by saying:
Police have to play a stronger role in curbing militancy and terrorism alongside stopping the abuse of drugs. Many police personnel have sacrificed their lives for the noble cause.
Therefore, we should congratulate the members of our own police force for their splendid jobs instead of the foreign law enforcement agencies. What they are doing for us, is truly praiseworthy. They do not care for their own lives.
Still, there are some problems. Sometimes, unwanted things happen between policemen and general people of the society, when even rational and educated people act in an uncivilized way. Sometimes a little scuffle turns into a big thing. Still, everyone call police in every such case, because, whatever the matters are, common people knows that law enforcement agencies, like Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP), Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI), Criminal Investigation Department (CID) etc, are always there to help them and solve the problematic situation.
On 15 April, 2020, Dr Benazir Ahmed, BPM (BAR), took charge of the Bangladesh police as the 30th Inspector General of Police (IGP) and after that, we have noticed fundamental changes in the role of the police force in different sectors.
Dr Benazir Ahmed, who proved himself as a visionary police officer through his effective and farsighted actions and made a revolutionary transformation in overall policing pattern of Bangladesh police in the last one year, is a man of integrity and constructive mindset. He was born in Gopalganj in 1963 and learnt in several renowned educational institutions throughout his illustrious academic career.
For the strong leadership quality, Dr. Benazir Ahmed is considered as the ‘Crisis Manager’ by his admirers. In the eyes of general people, incumbent IGP, who has different degrees such as MA, MBA and LLB along with PhD in Business Administration from the Faculty of Business Studies in the University of Dhaka, is a versatile genius. And, to the youth, Dr. Benazir Ahmed is a respected celebrity for his vast knowledge in different types of academic discourse, because, earlier, they never saw a police officer with so many degrees in different faculties.
American five-star general Douglas MacArthur, who was the commander of the Southwest Pacific in the World War II (1939-1945) once said:
A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.
At his command, in the crisis period of Covid-19, Bangladesh police rapidly proceeded and fearlessly took the necessary steps to save the citizens of our country.
As we all know that Bangladesh police, which is tirelessly working for the peace and prosperity of the nation, always defend its countrymen in every possible way. In this coronavirus pandemic situation, when everyone is reeling under the shock wave of Covid-19 and prefer to stay at home, the brave members of the police force have been doing several works, including their regular jobs of maintaining the law and order situation, like creating awareness about Covid-19 among the general people, ensuring a complete lockdown situation and monitoring the social distancing throughout the country every single day.
At one point, when the coronavirus infected a large number of on-duty policemen, Dr Benazir Ahmed made the police barrack as an isolation center to save the lives of the members of the police force.
Not only that, he has increased the capability of the Central Police Hospital for the advanced medication of the Covid-19 positive policemen. As a result, it becomes one of the best hospitals for the Covid-19 patients of the country at present.
Additionally, IGP Dr Benazir started ‘Pandemic Policing’ system and established a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and management protocol in this aspect.
For the busy schedule of the policemen, their family members suffered a lot. Sometimes, they suffer financially also. Dr Benazir felt that the sacrifice of the families of all policemen should be recognized in a proper way. Therefore, he established ‘Community bank’ for the benevolence of general policemen.
To bring qualitative change in Bangladesh police, he started ‘Bit Policing’. Under this initiative, there would be 6912 bits throughout the country. Therefore, common people can get the service of police much easily now.
It the last 12 years, the capability of the police force increased in a big way under the firm leadership of Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Police force has started to use the modern technologies for close surveillance and monitoring the cyber sector, as because, cyber security becomes a great challenge at present. The cyber sphere is too big to overlook. Millions of people, who belong to every age groups, ethnicity, race, are using this space for millions of reasons. Certainly, everyone’s intention is not good. Cyber bullying, child and women pornography become menacing predicaments for our country. Young women, who are much vulnerable for these alarming phenomena, become the main target of the cyber criminals. Therefore, it is crucial to check the crimes in the virtual world.
To make the cyber space safe for women, IGP Dr Benazir has taken special steps. An official facebook page, named ‘Police Cyber Support for Women-PCSW’, has been opened for ensuring the safe cyberspace for the women of our country. This facebook page, which being run by the Police Headquarters of Bangladesh police, provides necessary advice and legal assistance to the female victims. To ensure prompt service, there is a hotline number (01320-000888) in this page. As a result, at present, mistreated women easily get the service of police.
In spite of all these contribution of police force, some critics, who always abuse the law enforcement agencies in different meetings and seminars, often allege that police use excessive force to control the law and order situation and accuse the force for violating the human rights.
Here, we should remember the famous saying of the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, which is very much relatable to this issue:
When you play with a gentleman, you play like a gentleman. But when you play with bastards, make sure you play like a bigger bastard. Otherwise, you will lose.
We must realize that the members of the police force do not attend in any discussion with the terrorists in the air conditioned rooms like the intellectuals, when they are on-duty. When criminals go berserk and kill innocent people deliberately, quite understandably, it becomes impossible to control the situation in a peaceful manner for the members of the law enforcement agencies. We have seen such deplorable incidents in Shalla and Banskhali upazila in recent times (2021). Apart these incidents, we often see the deadly attacks, which organized by the wild political activists, militants, individual lawbreakers and unruly mob, on the members of the police force in different occasions.
Therefore, sometimes it becomes necessary to use minimum force to disarm those lawless groups from the society for the bigger interest of the nation. Violation of human rights is not applicable in these cases. When the lawless groups torture innocent people inhumanely, burnt their houses and other belongings, rape the school and college going girls, destroy government establishments and treasures in sporadic attacks, there is no other way except punishing them. It is unacceptable to expect that the policemen would not open fire, when their own lives become threatened by the goons.
It is an irony that when the critics talk against the so-called cruel actions of the policemen in their discussion, which generally being arranged in the decorated seminar rooms of the five, four or three-star hotels, like the intellectuals they expect the strong vigilance of police force around the seminar room, because, they know well that presence of police means security, presence of police means safety for their precious lives.
Therefore, it is better not to criticize the activities of the law enforcement agencies vehemently, because they do not use extreme force for any showoff. Without drinking a sip of water, they often stand on the roads all the day under the sun, which definitely not for sunbathing, only for the protection of the people of this country. Their families crave for their presence, which becomes rare due to their 24/7 duty, in their family programmes. Therefore, before blaming the police members for bribery or any unfair means, as a conscious human being and responsible citizen, it is necessary to introspect ourselves. What is the situation of other sectors of the society? Are all professional so clean that we can seamlessly put charges against all the police personnel, whereas most of them are honest and dutiful, for the wrongdoings and misbehavior of some rotten eggs?
Last but not the least; our police force is our pride. They sacrifice the happiness of their lives for the benevolence of the people. They deal with guns and bullets, so that we can play with balloons and roses. The policemen deserve more respect from citizenry than they get because of their enormous contribution for the society.
Writer : freelance columnist and former
Reporter of The Daily Observer