Sunday, May 4, 2008

Outlaw Attack on Cops

Outlaw Attack on Cops
21 arrested as combing operation launched in Bagmara

Security was put on high alert in five northern districts and a combing operation launched in Bagmara upazila of Rajshahi with arrest of 21 people yesterday, a day after killing of a policeman at Taherpur.

The five districts are Rajshahi, Natore, Naogaon, Pabna and Sirajganj.

Meanwhile, Lal Pataka faction of Purbo Banglar Communist Party (PBCP--Marxist-Leninist) has confessed responsibility of Friday's attack on police.

Primary investigation found the attack, which left a policeman dead, four others injured and five of their firearms looted, was pre-planned, and that the underground operatives have regrouped taking advantage of police indifference to vigilante activities.

The local police also delayed rescue of the victim policemen.

Inspector General of Police (IGP) Noor Muhammad, who visited the spot yesterday noon, also admitted police failure, and said stern action would be taken for negligence to duty.

"Such an incident must not have been a matter of one day. The perpetrators had to take preparations for long … And so, it is police failure that they could not gather information in time", said the IGP, terming the incident dangerous and alarming.

With the Taherpur incident, at least 12 law enforcers were killed and some 28 government firearms looted in attacks by outlaws in Rajshahi, Natore, Naogaon and Sirajganj districts in the last five and a half years, according to police sources.

Such incidents are recurring as the law enforcers conduct intensive raids after the incidents but discontinue those within a few weeks.

"This time we are not going for any wholesale arrest. We kept our forces alert to avert further incidents. And we are now conducting massive intelligence operation. We will not arrest anyone for harassment, and without proper information", Rajshahi Range DIG Mokhlesur Rahman told The Daily Star.

Among the 21 arrestees this time, two are listed outlaws while four are held on suspicion, the DIG said.

Asked about 15 people kept in the open at a small field behind Taherpur police outpost, he said, many of them are eye-witnesses to the incident and they would be released after interrogation.

Police recovered a 9mm revolver loaded with four bullets, six bullets of Chinese rifle, two bullets of 303 rifle, a bloodstained knife, cartridges and some other evidences from the spot of Friday's attack.

OUTLAWS' CONFESSION
A man identifying himself as Nikhil Sarker, 'regional responsible person of PBCP', telephoned two local newsmen and claimed responsibility of the attack on police.

The two newsmen said the caller vaunted about continuing their attacks on law enforcers and said they would also attack Rab and army personnel.

The Friday attackers sprayed leaflets while fleeing the scene. The leaflets narrated PBCP activities and called upon poor people to join the outfit. They hailed guerrilla attacks on law enforcers for what they said is establishing the revolutionary people's power in the country.

They also warned that 'sources' of law enforcers in villages must not to help them any more.

Local people blamed police for 'indifference' to outlaws' activities. There have been no regular police patrol and raids against outlaws and militants in the region since October last year.

One Afzal Hossain of Harmirkutsa said police took no action despite repeated complaints to them about activities of PBCP members in recent months.

A businessman unwilling to be named said he was threatened by outlaws over phone only a week ago. But police ignored his complaint saying the outlaws are no more able to conduct attacks.

Goalkandi union Parishad member Shefali Begum said police patrol decreased since the former officer-in-charge (OC) was transferred in October last year.

Asked about this, a police source said former Bagmara OC Mirja Golam Sarwar was transferred after he had arrested 106 listed outlaws and 56 militants in regular raids till October 2007. There have been no such raids since then.

"The incident (on Friday) occurred at around 6.30pm and we reached the spot at around 8:00pm. But police took another half an hour to reach there, (18km from police station)", said Mamunur Rashid, a local newsman.

"Minutes after the attackers left the scene chanting slogans, I found one policeman in a pool of blood. I took him to a nearby village doctor. The doctor advised taking him to hospital and informing police. I rushed to Taherpur police outpost in 15 minutes. But policemen didn't move to the spot which is only yards away", said Mokhlesur Rahman, a roadside shop-owner at Taherpur market.

Bagmara OC Fayzul Islam said raids and patrol duty never yield any result. "Those attacked were also on patrol. Have they avoided attacks?" he asked.

He said police reached the spot late due to bad road condition.

IGP's VISIT
IGP Noor Muhammad, addressing local people at Taherpur police outpost, sought their assistance in combating outlaws' activities, and assured that general people would not be harassed.

"Some of you must have seen the criminals and you should inform police about their identities. If you don't believe local police, you inform the SP, DIG. If you cannot trust police, you should inform Rab", said the IGP. And he gave his own mobile phone number requesting people to inform him about outlaws.

"Please assist us and see what exemplary actions we take against the criminals".

The IGP was accompanied by Additional IG (CID) Zabed Patwary and Additional IG (Special Branch) Baharul Alam.
 

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