By- Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Following arrest of three officers of Detective Branch (intelligence unit of Bangladesh Police), grave conspiracy has started within the top-ranking officials of police as well as some of the key figures in the Ministry of Home Affairs in giving a proper lesson to the members of National Security Intelligence (NSI). It may be mentioned here that, members of the Detective Branch (DB) were rounded with huge amount of cash, some bank cheques reportedly grabbed by the BD men from locals as extortion, wrongful ID cards and private weapons. According to the Police Service Code in Bangladesh, members of Bangladesh police are not allowed to possess photocopies of their identity cards, though the arrested DB men were carrying such photocopies only. They also failed to give any explanation on the bank cheques, which had been confiscated from their possession.
The National Security Intelligence, commonly known as the NSI is the leading civilian intelligence agency of Bangladesh, directly responsible to the office of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh. The agency has 64 branch offices across the 64 districts in Bangladesh. Although a civilian body responsible for foreign intelligence is headed by a senior military officer. NSI is staffed mostly by civilian personnel.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s DB inspectors Shafiuddin Sheikh, Ruhul Amin and Gias Uddin were temporarily suspended on Thursday following their arrest by NSI officials in front of the Holy Family Red Crescent Hospital at Maghbazar area in Dhaka city. The DB men were making numerous calls to a businessman demanding significant amount of money. The bank cheques amounting to Taka 620,000 (almost US$ 9,000) were on Dutch-Bangla Bank, Dhaka Bank and Prime Bank. The officers of DB failed to give any response as to who issued these cheques and why they were holding such private properties illegally. Seeking anonymity, a source inside Detective Branch said, the officers at DB are engaged in regular extortion of money from various individuals and businessmen. It was also disclosed that, inside the DB headquarters, there are a number of private cashiers, who are assigned to keep the amounts collected from various individuals and later the amounts are carried out of DB office by the extorting officers.
After the arrest, the officers of Detective Branch were handed over by NSI to additional commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police. The entire incident from the arrest to handing over was video graphed by National Security Intelligence. Surprisingly enough, right after the officers were brought back to Detective Branch office, the high officials of DB started putting blame on NSI of physically torturing the DB men. A section of local media was assigned to run defamatory reports and editorials against NSI and some newspapers were even bribed by DB to run reports to salvage the accused officers of the Detective Branch.
Refuting DB’s claim of physical torture of their officers, National Security Intelligence officials said, the DB men were handed over to the senior officers of Bangladesh Police after they were caught red-handed, while extorting money from a local businessman. Bangladesh’s top intelligence outfit issued a strong rebuttal of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police Detective Branch (DB) inspectors who claimed they had been subjected to physical torture in custody.
Md Shafiq Ullah, director of NSI said, “A certain group was out to destroy the image of both the police and the NSI. We will ask the Prime Minister’s Office for departmental action against the three inspectors arrested while taking bribe, their team leader assistant commissioner and those who are dishing out false information to the media.”
It may be mentioned here that, allegations of extortion and corruption of the members of Bangladeshi Police is nothing new. According to a statistics, more than 92 per cent of the police officers living in Dhaka city as well as other divisional towns in Bangladesh live in rented houses or apartments, where the amount of monthly rent is much higher than the amount of their salaries. At least 35 per cent of the police officers (mostly at the rank of inspectors and above) possess their private cars and even are holding shares in business enterprises.
While the tension between Detective Branch and National Security Intelligence is yet to cool-down, some over-enthusiastic officers at DB have reportedly started intercepting phone calls and mobile phones of a few officials of National Security Intelligence. Seeking anonymity, a source inside DB said, the colleagues of the suspended extorting officers of DB are plotting trap to give a proper response to the members of National Security Intelligence for humiliating their colleague and putting the image of DB into dock. These policemen are having hidden support and even instigation from some of the corrupt senior officers of DB and Bangladesh Police as well as at least one of the top-policymakers at Ministry of Home Affairs.
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is globally renowned Anti-Jihadist Journalist, Columnist, author & Peace Activist. He is the Editor of “Weekly Blitz” and “Daily Frontline”. He is the recipient of PEN USA Freedom to Write Award 2005, AJC Moral Courage Award 2006, Key to the Englewood City, NJ, USA [Highest Honor] 2007; Monaco Media Award, 2007. He can be reached at [email protected]