The unsung heroes of New Market Police Station
Published : Wednesday, 10 March, 2021 at 12:00 AM Count : 806
I usually avoid visiting two places - hospital and police station.
The first makes me mentally sick while the second turns me nervous, with and without a reason.
However, despite my sheer reluctance, last week I had to visit my local police station on two separate days. No not as an accused or a convict but to surrender two single barrel hunting guns once owned by my late grandfather.
In absence of the rightful heir, otherwise my maternal uncle living in the UK, I was authorised to surrender the somewhat vintage weapons which were last used probably in the early 80s.
Based on an earlier phone conversation with the Officer-in-Charge (OC), I arrived at the station next evening at 9 PM. The sharp and astute OC inspected my documents diligently, advised me on the missing papers, and even spoke to my uncle for a few minutes advising him on the correct official procedure.
For those who are abroad and thinking to surrender licensed guns to the government's armoury, it is important to note that the entire process needs to be initiated with the help of our embassy or high commission abroad.
Thanks to the Corona-pandemic for disrupting all official and diplomatic activities, or else I wouldn't have been able to surrender the guns going beyond the rule book.
Partly based on valid documents, partly on faith and perhaps partly being surprised, the OC assigned a sub-inspector (SI) to deal with my issue. Not surprisingly, the assigned SI proved out to be markedly competent as his boss.
The problem began while matching the gun number carved inside on the second gun. It was a Remington single barrel gun with the number hidden above the forearm bracket near the trigger.
Following the separating of forearm bracket, we were able to detach the gun in two parts but failed to attach it back in a single piece. Taking sympathy on our failed efforts joined another enthusiastic junior officer to help us attach the two pieces. His attempts too ended in failure.
After 45 minutes of repeated failed attempts we gave up.
Finally it was decided that the gun needed to be taken to a gun shop. By then it was well passed 11 PM, but I was impressed at the patience displayed by the junior officers of the police station.
As I let go of my mother's private car, I had to lodge a General Diary (GD). It was more than after two decades that this writer had to pen a general diary in Bengali following cautious and cooperating dictation of the SI.
The last time I wrote in Bengali was when I sat for my Bengali papers in HSC exams. By then the patient SI and this hungry and exhausted writer were closing-in to midnight.
The official procedure had come to an end, but it wasn't possible to deposit the guns since one needed to be repaired. Understandably, I had to bring back the guns to my residence.
The new problem now was I had brought the bare empty guns in a private car now I would have to carry back the weapons in a rickshaw.
Sensing my insecurity and irritation, the SI once again assured me to accompany me home. The distance between New Market Police Station and my home is a little over a kilometre, but the ten minutes journey seemed like an hour.
First, the rickshaw-puller in front of the station was bemused if he should carry us or not.
Second, it was quite a scene as the SI and this writer was travelling in a rickshaw with two bare guns at hand.
A number of pedestrians coupled with some curious onlookers along the empty Katabon New Elephant Road route looked at us with utter amazement. As our rickshaw took a right turn from the Bata shoe shop turnabout, I was barely 50 metres from my house.
As I got down from the rickshaw with the guns my night guard came forward to help me. I finally landed on 'safe haven'.
No sooner had I thanked the SI for his kind assistance and paid the rickshaw puller, a young and over-enthusiastic neighbour came running and crying out loud in Bengali "Bhai kono shomossha hoise?" (Brother is there any problem)
This is the number one problem with my adjacent alley neighbours or SK Goli people. Filled with dubious elements, this alley has for long been the most problematic spot for almost all New Market Police Station OCs, and it still remains the same.
I brushed him off with my exhaustion, had dinner and straight went to bed.
It wasn't until four days later when the same SI had accompanied me to a gun shop at Purana Paltan, helped me fixed the gun following a lengthy process.
Another point in reminder, please don't be too confident to visit a gun shop without valid documents. No matter who you are, they may right away reject you at the doorstep.
Thanks to the SI for accompanying me, otherwise I would have been rejected entry. Finally, I was able to surrender the guns after four painstaking hours.
Hat's-off to this sub-inspector for his off-duty-hour services.
However, the actual reason to pen this opinion has a different reason. Our elite law enforcement agency, the police have come under the media spotlight for far too many scandals in the past couple of years. And as of late, Bangladesh Police is practically going through an image crisis.
The point, however, as much as it is our professional obligation to cover all mismanagement and irregularities done by the police - it is equally important to praise those dedicated policemen who continue to sincerely serve us in silence.
The last time I visited my local police station was about a decade ago, can't recall for what reason. It was in a chaotic state back then. The station premises and rooms were dirty and stinking. Questionable men and women were seen socialising with policemen here and there. To cut a long story short, the police station appeared more in the likes of a noisy Dhaka fish market.
It is a completely transformed police station today with a clean premises, dedicated policemen and staff working in full conformity to discipline and competence. More to it, it was the first time I was contacted a couple of times by the police station's officer dealing on public grievances.
In fact, my last visit at the New Market Police Station was the first time when I was extended full cooperation by its staff to learn how a police station functions, though it wasn't their job to provide me details.
True, in Bangladesh we still have far too many procedural red tapes to get simple jobs done with no trouble. But there are also people to run the extra mile to serve our purpose, and for this writer it is time to acknowledge the energy, time, patience of those sincere law enforcers of my area.
To finish with, police in anywhere around the world has to be pro-people than being pro-government.
Surprisingly enough, the pro-people police I was searching for, lives and operates nearby.
But then again not all Dhaka-dwellers are lucky as I am.
The writer is assistant editor,
The Daily Observer