Grotesque murder of Rifat in broad daylight: Let there be justice
Beneath the seemingly temperate veneer of our milieu there exists a vast dreadful underworld run by formidable crime lords. It is an incontrovertible fact that society prepares crime, and gangsters commit it. In our case, it is not a hyperbole to say that the country is by and large criminalised and there is not much to be optimistic about drastic reduction in crimes though much has been uttered and articulated by successive ministers for Home Affairs over the years.
The recent online police record of January-there is no mention of year-says there were 351 murder cases [www. police.gov. bd/en/crime_statistic/month/1]; then a year’s figure comes to more or less 4212, which is quite a large figure. Extrajudicial killing, abduction and enforced disappearance continued throughout 2018, with a record 466 deaths in crossfire and in police custody, the rights body Ain o Salish Kendra said in its analysis.
In presence of scores of people Rifat Sharif was brutally murdered in Barguna with sharp weapons in broad daylight in front of the Barguna Government College on 26 June 2019, but unexpectedly none from among the sizable crowd came to the victim’s rescue while his wife Ayesha Siddika Minni was trying in vain to save him from the hatchets of Sabbir Rahman Nayan the murderer. The reason wa: killers of the “007 gang” of goons were politically connected to ruling Awami League leaders; hence these these elements gained power in Barguna, so much so that one of the main accused, Sabbir Hossain Nayan, despite being in custody with drugs previously, was roaming around freely which gave him the audacity to murder Rifat.
The journalist couple Meherun Runi and Sagar Sarowar were murdered on 11 February 2012 in their apartment on the fourth floor. Police, RAB, CID and other law enforcement agencies have not succeeded to indict the killers till date. Again, The grotesque death of Madrassah student Nusrat Jahan Rafi-who was doused with kerosene and set on fire-have saddened all perceptive people across the country and beyond, excepting a few criminals in the deceased’s home sub-district Sonagazi in Feni, where a handful of people connived to protect the main culprit Siraj Ud Daula.
Over 1170 days have elapsed after the ghastly murder, assumedly after violation, of the Cumilla Victoria College B.A. honours student Miss Sohagi Jahan Tonu within highly secured zone of the Cumilla Cantonment protected by round-the-clock armed patrols in every nook and cranny who must not allow unauthorized entry of anybody. The Cantonment Military Police, RAB, CID and other law enforcement agencies have lamentably failed in detecting the assassin/s.
A pall of gloom perhaps still hangs over the Bahadur Shah Park in older part of Dhaka city which never witnessed a similar grotesque political murder of an apolitical innocent young man in broad daylight by a group of university students on 9 December 2012. People still convulse and shudder at the horrifying slaughter of Biswajit Kumar Das. The then Home Minister Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir claimed that assailants were expelled from Chhatra League long ago, which was far from truth. The Daily Star in its 14 December 2012 issue revealed the truth-the murderes were affiliated with the Jagannath University Chhatra League unit.
Impunity is exemption from punishment. It needs no eleboration that crime happens if it is not punished. Here it is worthwhile to quote eminent forthright Italian politician Federica Maria Mogherini: Without justice, the most heinous crimes go unpunished; victims are unable to obtain redress, and peace remains an elusive goal, since impunity generates more hatred, leading to acts of revenge and more suffering.
The Just Security think tank, based at the Reiss Center on Law and Security at New York University School of Law, stated that Bangladesh has failed to investigate credible allegations of the involvement of its own State Security Services in close to 1,300 extra-judicial killings, more than 400 enforced disappearances, the arbitrary arrest and detention of several thousand political opponents.” [Vide Toby Cadman, “What Should the International Community Do to Address Impunity in Bangladesh?” January 31, 2018; www.justsecurity.org/ 51664 /international- community-address-impunity- bangladesh/].
According to Article 49 of the Republic’s Constitution, “The President shall have power to grant pardon, reprieves and respites and to remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by any court, tribunal or other authority.” The late President Zillur Rahman granted presidential pardon to as many as 26 death row convicts during the tenure of the Awami League-led Grand Alliance government, State Minister for Home Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told Parliament in 2014. The convicts included AHM Biplob, the son of Awami League leader and Lakshmipur Municipality Mayor Abu Taher, in the sensational murder of Lakshmipur BNP leader Advocate Nurul Islam. Besides, since January 2009, the penalties of as many as 29 convicts had been waived; three among them had been sentenced to varying terms. [Vide ”26 removed from death row”; bdnews24.com, 05 Mar 2014.] Prior to that, during the BNP regime between 2001 and 2006, the then President was disapproved of for granting clemency to an individual.
However, Advocate Manzil Murshid filed the petition on 31 June 2014 on behalf of Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh, an NGO, which sought a rule on why article 49 of the Constitution should not be struck off as it was in conflict with articles 26, 27, 31, 35, 111 and 112. The third part involving fundamental rights starts with article 26 that states “All existing law inconsistent with the provisions of this Part shall, to the extent of such inconsistency, become void on the commencement of this Constitution.” Article 27 says, “All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law.” This contradicts the fundamental rights and undermines the position of the judiciary. [Vide “President’s power of clemency challenged”; bdnews24.om dated 01 Jun 2014.]
It is advisable that the Government gives due importance to the above observation to remedy the lingering horrendous ills without delay for the sake of proper governance.