220 people killed in anti-drug drive in two months
Rights groups term them extra-judicial killings
Published : Saturday, 18 August, 2018 at 12:00 AM Count : 198
At least 220 people have so far been killed in the on-going anti-drug crackdown across the country. The crackdown was launched in May. The law enforcers claimed that those who were killed in the drive were involved in at least 10 drug-related crimes while the rights groups term them extrajudicial killings carried out by police.
The rights groups claimed that more than 220 people had been killed and 27,000 others imprisoned in just two months.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in June he was 'gravely concerned that such a large number of people' had died in the anti-drug drive.
But it's not clear how many drug users are in the country. Asked about it narcotics department deputy intelligence boss Nazrul Islam Sikder said they didn't know about the exact figure.
"We have no government statistics or non-government statistics about drug users," Nazrul Islam Sikder said, adding: "But we guess it is 7 to 8 million." Drug seizures data from the Department of Narcotics Control suggests the drug trade has grown, but much of the increase happened three years ago, long before Hasina launched the crackdown.
The data shows a dramatic increase in methamphetamine or yaba pill seizures beginning in 2015.
Bangladeshi authorities began the sweeping measures in an effort to wipe out yaba, a cheap methamphetamine pill used widely in villages and towns across the country. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced a 'war on drugs in early May 2018 after reports of rising methamphetamine sales and use. Bangladesh's crackdown on drugs has drawn comparisons to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's brutal war on drugs, raising concern that his methods could spread to South Asia. Philippine authorities have acknowledged killing more than 4,000 drug suspects, but rights groups say the actual number could be triple that figure.
Last week, Sri Lanka's president said the South Asian nation would begin hanging drug offenders in an effort to 'replicate the successes' of the internationally chastised crackdown in the Philippines. If pursued, the plan would mean resuming executions in the country after a moratorium of more than half a century. According to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), only 10 per cent of total drugs are generally recovered in any country. By that estimate, 400 million yaba pills worth TK 60 billion are sold each year in the country. Law enforcers claim pills of around TK 100 billion are sold each year in local markets.
Such a huge turnout remains an incentive for smuggling yaba despite the 'zero tolerance' policy by the law enforcers, said several officials of RAB and police. Yaba trade has turned out to be another normal business for many in Cox's Bazar. The police are overseen by Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, who denied the police were executing suspects.
"Our law enforcement people don't kill, they don't execute anyone. It is impossible. If they do so they will be fired at that moment," he told Reuters. "It is not a lawless country," the home boss said.