Case distortions and social order

Published in the Daily Star (4 Sep 2009)

GRADUALLY we are getting used to the initial covering up and subsequent disclosure of criminal cases. Under one government, we learn how an apparent killing or a bomb blast is either just an accident or deep-rooted political conspiracy. And then after the change of government, we learn how the criminal cases were distorted during the previous regime to cover up the truth. From “media created” Bangla bhai to the attack on Humayun Azad, or from the Ramna bombing of 2001 to 21st August 2004 grenade attacks — it’s the same story.

The propagated stories, often hilarious, raise concerns over the law enforcing agencies. But all the more astonishing is how the investigators, after the series of exposures of such case-distortions, continue to twist new cases and spin new tales, and still expect us to believe them!

Distortion of a criminal case at the hand of the investigators may emanate from political pressure or from incompetence in probing the act. In both cases, the investigators try their best to convince everyone that either an apparent murder case was just an accident, or they find an innocent person to “confess” in an effort to hide the actual culprits. The investigators believe that their incompetence or politically motivated wrong doings should be kept secret at any cost. Hence, this cover up process, as we have seen in recent George Miah case, can be very ruthless.

There is, however, a huge difference between politically motivated distortions and distortions out of incompetence.

In the case of politically motivated distortions, there is always a hope that a new government will come to power and bring the culprits to justice. The criminals also remain in fear that one day their incumbent protectors will be voted out from power and the new government will reinvestigate the cases to prosecute the actual criminals. The families of the victims can also keep this faith.

For cover-ups that arise from the incompetence of the law enforcing agencies to solve any particular case, the end result is rather severe. While the families of the victims remain hopeless, the criminals remain at large. As the criminals become more confident and spread their criminal activities, others get encouraged too.

This makes it all the more essential to reinvestigate the mysterious deaths of Ganatantri Party President Nurul Islam and his son. The initial investigative reports, which concluded that it was a case of electric short-circuit from the fridge, soon came under question when the compressor of the fridge was found intact and the electric cable unplugged. As was seen on TV footage, the mysterious explosion — which melted down the ceiling fan, shattered the front door of the fridge — left the back of the fridge intact.

According to some eyewitness accounts, the explosion was too mysterious for the law enforcing agencies to solve because they do not have enough equipments and know-how to scrutinise the case. As for the government, maybe there are too many things on its plate. Hence, though sympathetic to the cause, it’s unlikely that it will increase the capacity of the investigators to solve this case. But this is very unlikely to be just another unresolved case.

The criminals have already got the signal that the government is simply incapable of probing their criminal acts. They now know that when it comes to the death of an honest leader like Nurul Islam, they can get away. One unsolved murder, by proving the incompetence of the state, can invoke further criminal activities. This is how the killings of national leaders have increased over the years. This is how the criminals have established the fact that anarchy prevails instead of justice.

Such social disorder contradicts the whole purpose of having a national government. Citizens elect a group of persons among themselves as the government of the country so that law and order is maintained. It is perceived as a “social contract” between the people and the government, implying that the people give up some rights to the government in order to receive social order. Most historical accounts suggest this as the reason of establishing states and affirm that the principal task of the government is to maintain law and order. Issues such as taxation, budget, development works, and poverty reduction came much later as other government duties. Hence, it is against the “social contract” to argue that the government cannot spend on investigating a murder case because it has other tasks at hand.

Capacity building of the law enforcing agencies to solve this particular case is essential to protect the nation from similar instances. It is also essential to establish the supremacy of the state power over the criminal minds by solving the case. After all, that’s what the government was all about at the first place.


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