The extrajudicial killing of Major (retd) Sinha Rashed Khan has shaken the entire nation in much the same way that the murder of the BUET student Abrar Fahad did almost exactly a year ago: in both instances, what we recognised was the snuffing out of bright, intelligent young Bangladeshis, with so much to offer this nation, at the altar of the infernal and nefarious. We can only do so much though, of course. If our outrage just manages to move the ball forward a bit towards the goal of a nation where everyone is allowed to choose a life that is an exploration of their potentials and their aspirations, it will have been worth it.
That the police force today stands so far detached from the people they are meant to protect can never be a good thing. Despite the arrests of 7 accused, including the top three accused, the signs haven’t been forthcoming from the police leadership that they are willing to pause at this stage and take stock: is this really where they were meant to be? For so many citizens, the police today stand out as a source of vexation, rather than a source of assurance. One found the IGP, Benzir Ahmed, a bit defensive and clammed up during the joint appearances he made with the Army chief. The same old 2-step manoeuvre - isolate and abdicate - may achieve ends to which he is privy, but it won’t go anywhere towards fixing the relationship between the people and the police.
After all, how many isolated incidents does it take, before you spot the pattern? Indeed, hasn’t the pattern been apparent for too long now? The police have to realise, that a public to which you can read off a script can hardly keep the faith in perpetuity. That it was tried again in this case, where none of the surrounding conditions fit that tired script, served to show how moribund they’ve become, unable to think on its feet, and crying for reform. The present IGP had been making some very positive noises since coming into the role, and sounded like the man who could guide the force through a process of revival in terms of its role and purpose. In an age where it can be mulled to “defund the police,” as in the U.S. recently, we must be open to at least reform.
There is time for that still. The ideal thing to happen would be for this to lead to a more earnest discussion on extrajudicial killing. Recent statements in parliament and elsewhere reflect that our entire society needs to be reminded that it is wrong and it is unhelpful. Even the sense of security it comes associated with is a charade. You only find out when it hits close to home.