Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Deaths in police firing

We condemn the deaths of five people killed in police firing on demonstrating BNP activists in Lakshmipur, Chandpur and Rajshahi the day before yesterday and yesterday respectively. 

We understand that under the present circumstances, when political tempers are frayed, it is the police that are under severe pressure. But that is where the training of the law enforcing agencies comes into play.

We wonder whether all the other crowd control measures were taken before opening fire.

Firing is a matter of last resort and not first and that too its purpose is to cause restrain and not death. It is not precipitate action on the part of the police but exercising utmost restraint in these situations that can assuage nerves and help control volatile situations. 

We note that two different enquiry committees have been constituted and we hope that these would not only bring out the circumstances of the killings but also suggest corrective measures for the police so that such tragedies could be avoided in future. But the police have filed cases in which they have accused BNP activists of creating disturbances.

However, the other concern of equal degree is the way politics is playing out now and how it will shape in the near future. Admittedly, we have had a state of confrontational politics ever since the revival of democracy in 1990. But it is the abject violent turn that politics is taking that causes us serious anxiety. Thankfully, though, the programmes of AL and BNP yesterday passed off peacefully.

In this regard one would like to know what prompted the government to thwart the BNP's programme on 29 January. It was most ill-advised for the AL to announce a counter programme. Its decision has been provocative and disruptive. And while the AL is heaping blames on the BNP for destructive politics we feel that it is AL politics which is proving unhelpful. 

The country is caught in the one-upmanship game, and as the ruling party it is for the AL to lead the way by abjuring the path of confrontation and opening up an avenue for dialogue. That is the only way that the country can be spared the distress it is very likely to face otherwise.

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