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Extra-judicial killing.


The death of Jagannath Univeristy student Iqbal Hossain Masum in police custody is merely the latest in a long line of questionable killings that have been committed upon innocent and criminal alike by the authorities. What makes this case even more egregious is that there is zero evidence that Masum was even a criminal and the official explanation for his death is transparently false.

Masum was taken away from a family function by members of the DB's Cheetah unit on the night of July 9, and after his father searched high and low for him all night all over Dhaka city, he was finally located the next morning at DCMH morgue. The official explanation that he died in crossfire is absurd on its face, as he was killed in the middle of the night while in police custody.

Even worse is the fact that there is no evidence tying Masum to any crime. Police concede that his name appears in no FIR, and claim that information of his criminality comes from interrogations of others in custody. In addition, unknown people held a procession in Masum's locality celebrating his death, in an apparent move to smear his name and imply his criminality. But locals have said that Masum was no criminal and that those taking out the procession are not known to the locality.

No one doubts that law and order was a serious problem, and required a dramatic solution. But it now appears that these kinds of extra-judicial killings are the government's preferred method of dealing with the problem. The top criminals are not touched, only the small fry and even the innocent are made the fall guys. The government has not even bothered to make a pretence of institutional reform or trying to establish law and order through legitimate means.

Not only is the government's modus operandi immoral, but due to its lack of imagination and seriousness to address the real underlying law and order problem, the approach will ultimately prove ineffective, and in the long run lead to more atrocities like the killing Masum.

An executive inquiry has been authorised. However, we have seen that these kinds of inquiries never go anywhere and are nothing more than an attempt to whitewash the truth and distract the public from the enormity of the official misconduct. It is not enough. We demand discontinuance of the method and a full judicial inquiry into Masum's killing to have all the questions that surround it answered.