13 August 2017, Sun, 9:50

'Victims of 'disappearance' can't speak fearing recurrence'

Living with fear and trouble has been injected into the culture of the Bangladesh people in recent times, a rights leader said on Saturday.

In an event at Dhaka Reporters' Unity, Syeda Rizwana Hasan alleged that citizens holding national identity cards are being abducted by law men and such abduction has been a culture of the law enforcement agencies.

"If the people nowadays want to protest [at violation of rights), his/her family says 'don't invite any trouble'... The people are in a culture of living with trouble," she said referring to criticism in television talkshows about why the victims did not speak out once they were free.

"The victims and their families would have been vocal, should an incident of abduction be the only one in the country," said Rizwana, chief of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA).

She came up with resentment, addressing a discussion titled 'Rule of law and role of law enforcement agencies' organised by Moulik Odhikar Surakkha Committee (Committee to protect fundamental rights).

Committee member Noor Khan Liton allegorically said, "Ain Shringkhola Rokkhakari Bahini (Agencies to protect law and order) are now being deliverately called Ain Shringkhola Bahini (law and order agencies). The word 'protect' does no longer suit the agencies."

Unidentified persons abducted and later freed Rizwana Hasan's husband Abu Bakar Siddique in 2014. A general diary was then filed with the police but the investigation said nothing about who were behind the abduction.

About silence of victims and families, Rizwana told the discussion that such abduction was allegedly carried out, not only by the law enforcment agencies, but also at the directive of such a high level that the subordinates could not deny.

In this context, she insisted, it is essential to restore confidence of the people in the state agencies by taking necessary steps.

"We have to change law [or name of an agency] if necessary to get rid of no-confidence in public mind about the law enforcement agencies," she said referring to the renaming of the Bangladesh Rifles as Border Guard Bangladesh after the 2009 revolt.

"We have to think about RAB (Rapid Action Battalion) as well," she said.

The rights leader emphasised that agencies such police, RAB and army must protect the citizens.

"No party can win an election if the citizens holding identity cards go missing," she added.

One Jesmin Nahar, hailing from Satkhira, narrated the story of disappearance of her husband. She mentioned that there are proofs that her husband was kept in jail for three days but the police denied that he was detained.

Supreme Court lawyer Jyotirmoy Barua said law has provision for remedy when there is a genuine incident of abduction. "But when someone is picked up, not arrested, and that too by the law enforcement agencies, there is no legal remedy," he pointed out.