Sunday, April 22, 2012

70 MEN DISAPPEARED IN 2012 Disappearance: Bangladeshi dissenters in grip of fear for life

It has become difficult to live in Bangladesh without fear. The list of those disappearing for ever after being carried off by persons claiming to be members of this or that special organisation of the country’s law and order forces keep getting longer.

The Home Minister and chiefs of forces under her routinely deny that the law enforcing agencies abducted them. But neither do they ever come back to tell the people as to who were the heinous kidnappers and why police failed to save the lives of kidnap victims, particularly if such victims had connections with politics. As a result Bangladeshis—-especially those who disagree with the present government or those who by any of their action have posed some kind of a threat to it—-shudder whenever they see a particular type of microbus or a motorcycle is following them, be it at day or night.

Also, when people hear an unexpected knock on the door the same type of terror grips them. With the kidnapping of BNP’s central organising secretary , ex-Member of Parliament and well-known, though some times controversial former student leader Ilias Ali, along with the driver of his car Ansar, on the night following Tuesday, the disappearance issue has created a tremor across the country. 

Safe return demanded

The BNP was observing a general strike in the greater Sylhet region yesterday (Thursday) and it has called a countrywide dawn to dusk general strike on Sunday demanding the safe return of Ilias Ali.

Meanwhile, the human rights organisation Ain-o-Salish Kendra, which is not at all a BNP-sympathiser, has told the press that in the first three and a half months of this year (2012) as many as 22 persons have been kidnapped. It also said that 70 persons disappeared after being kidnapped in the year 2011. 

137 cases of kidnapping

But the Naya Diganta newspaper has reported much higher numbers of the missing people. Quoting statistics obtained from the Police headquarters the Bengali daily said that 137 cases of kidnapping were filed in last January and February, while 808 cases were filed in 2011. The report did not cite any number regarding persons who returned from captivity nor of the cases resolved.

What increases the worry of the public is that the kidnappings are taking place while deaths from crossfire of the police and the RAB continue unabated. Crossfire deaths are considered to be serious violation of law because these are extra-judicial killings.

The mounting number of kidnappings have thus not only aggravated the law and order situation but these are simultaneously causing loss of faith in the law enforcing forces and putting into question very seriously whether the ruling party has a desire to run these forces impartially and in accordance with law.

Recently it was seen that the kidnapping and disappearance of opposition BNP’s local leaders and active supporters have markedly risen. With Ilias Ali’s disappearance, for Opposition BNP the issue has become one that they must protest at a national level. It is not unreasonable to fear that the situation will turn into a grave confrontation between Awami League and the main opposition BNP. Such confrontation will not necessarily remain within the bounds of lawful action. In other words the present government’s callous attitude in allowing kidnapping, disappearance and extra-judicial killings to continue is taking the country to a deep chaos and widespread violence. This will jeopardise democratic politics and peace.

BY : Ataus Samad.