We are concerned that law enforcers are continuing their drives in plainclothes, despite a written directive on June 17 from the Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner that operations of 'civil teams' should be halted immediately. The DMP Commissioner issued another letter on June 21 warning all police stations to stop these drives and detailing specific conditions under which civil teams can be deployed.
These directives have come amidst widespread allegations that law enforcers in plainclothes are carrying out illegal activities, including threats and intimidation to people to extort money. Plainclothes law enforcers have also come under scrutiny following allegations of abductions and disappearances by people claiming to be law enforcers in civil clothes. The police headquarters and senior officials have given repeated instructions to the police stations over the months to ensure that activities of civil teams are stopped, but there continues to be allegations of law enforcers conducting their drives in microbuses or Legunas at night.
Under the circumstances, the DMP itself, worried about the work and image of the institution, has directed that all civil teams be abolished without delay. Civil teams can be formed for arrests of criminals and seizure of arms and drugs under the guidance of the Deputy Commissioner, and be done away with immediately; in addition, the joint commissioners of Operations and Crimes must be informed prior to the formation of the teams.
We laud the DMP Commissioner's directive; however, the DMP must ensure that the directive is implemented and exemplary action taken against guilty police officers, unit heads and OCs of concerned stations so that plainclothes policemen, misusing their powers, do not harass ordinary people.