Why do police stray into trigger-happy mode?

Editorial
They should be trained in standard crowd control methods
THE death of a school student in an accident on the Dhaka-Mawa highway on Wednesday has had a backlash of a stupendous proportion breaking into a series of incendiary incidents. At first, there was agitation over a demand for constructing speed breaker, this led to clashes between crowds and the police which culminated in the police opening fire. The post-accident casualties were considerable as a youngman died, 25 were injured including eight policemen while 16 sustained bullet injuries.

In facing the public after a serious mishap the police react in a familiar and predictable fashion. Almost like automatons they would first chase the crowd, wield batons charging at them mercilessly, fire tear gas shells and rubber bullets and when in their assessment things go beyond their control, and they feel scared, they open fire unmindful of the consequences. That is an extreme measure that the police always strive not to use. Do they?

Ours is a highly populous country with a huge density of population, so that mobs gravitate to any sight of accident and go on a rampage, transport-bashing and barricading traffic for hours. A public behaviour that is getting into a ballistic pattern. Given such mob psyche can there be any room for antiquated crowd control methods? Specialised skills and techniques need to be instilled into the police force through training and re-training programmes at par with countries of similar orientations. It is our firm opinion that this aspect of crowd control should form a major component of police reform and re-equipment along modernist lines. Unless this is done such crowd behaviour and rabid police response will continue to happen and governance would be the worst casualty.

The angry reaction of the public is somewhat understandable. This is for the fact that reckless and incompetent driving is commonplace on the highways and lethal accidents are never accounted for nor the culprit ever convicted. There is no speed limit, either prescribed by law, or supervised by any patrol police near bazars and schools located on the sides of highways. So the demand for speed breaker was quite justified and all that perhaps could have quelled their temper within limits was an authentic assurance for it, punishment to the perpetrator and a commitment towards having the precautions in place on the busy highway.

We want the whole series of incidents centring around the schoolboy’s death and death of another person and the firing mayhem investigated focusing on the role of the police.

daily star