Space For Rent
Sunday, February 28, 2016, Falgun 16, 1422 BS, Jamadiul Awwal 18, 1437 Hijri

The need to tackle crime
Published :Sunday, 28 February, 2016,  Time : 12:00 AM  View Count : 13

A front-page report in this newspaper yesterday focused on the spurt in crimes in the past month in the national capital. The figures are certainly worrying, as all reports of lawlessness are. The figures which have been cited come from police sources, which is all right up to a point. But the bigger reality is that the actual number could be much higher given that many citizens are reluctant to report to the law enforcers on the assumption that the police will not record their complaints or that by reporting the crimes they might only endanger themselves further. And note, by the way, that many of the victims of crime have indeed come up with allegations that the police are unwilling to record their statements relating to the crimes they have been subjected to. That is indeed cause for worry.
The plain fact today is that crimes have gone up in the capital. If that is the reality, there is the other reality too, which is that they may well have gone up in other urban areas as well as the rural regions. There are all the instances of crimes committed in our villages which remain unreported in the national media. And these crimes include murder, maiming, a resort to criminality over property-related issues, rape, abduction and even such nefarious acts as the issuance of fatwa by local preachers who are not afraid to take the law in their own hands. Add to that the carefree manner in which the law is easily and freely tampered with by political party activists, especially by those belonging to or identifying with the ruling party. In these past few years, instances of mind-boggling murders, such as the killing of a journalist couple, the murder of seven men in Narayanganj, the abduction and killing of small boys, et cetera, have been indicative of the law enforcers' inability to prevent such crimes or track down those who have committed them.
But, again, blaming the police for this spurt in crimes will not be enough, for the good reason that that the force we have at this point is too under-manned to keep tabs on criminal activities throughout the country. At the same time, the degree of professionalism we expect our police to demonstrate, in line with standards followed around the world, has not quite been there despite all the platitudes we have heard over the years. The recent incidents of mobs lynching robbers in areas close to the capital are some graphic examples of the extent to which citizens have lost confidence in the ability of the law enforcers to handle crime. Obviously, lynch mobs are a bad sign for any state. And to prevent a recurrence of such acts, the police must go out on a limb to convince citizens that they can and will tackle crime whenever and wherever it takes place.
In the cities, police patrols must not only be increased but also be noted for the efficiency with which they tackle crime. It is fine for policemen to stop and check motorbike riders and auto-rickshaws, but such checks must not cross the line and turn into a harassment of citizens. Again, there are other vehicles such as private cars, trucks and buses which many criminals use to get away. Why not subject those vehicles to checks as well?
Finally, in the villages, let there be a renewed focus on a revitalization of Village Defence Parties (VDPs) if tackling crime is a priority.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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