117 custodial deaths in B’desh in three months

Himalayan News Service

Dhaka, April 1:

Bangladesh police and the elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) have killed at least 117 people in their custody in the last three months, a rights group has alleged.

While 95 people died in custody of the Bangladesh police, 22 people died while in custody of the RAB, the Daily Star newspaper reported today, quoting a human rights group Ain Shalish Kendra (ASK).

The RAB is the elite force formed about a year ago with personnel of the Bangladesh Army and police.

In almost all the cases, the police or RAB arrested the people and later said they had been killed in gun battles in their bid to flee. The Ain Shalish Kendra in its report said around 1,660 people were injured and 14 had died in political violence in the country during the last three months. In the same period, 178 women were raped and 31 of them were killed. Twenty-seven women were attacked with acid while 59 suffered torture due to dowry demands.

Incidents of attacks on journalists also saw a rise.

Forty-seven journalists were attacked, harassed or threatened, including 12 by the ruling political parties. Meanwhile, the US State Department’s human rights report released this week criticised the Bangladesh government for its “poor human rights record”. Moudud Ahmed, the law, justice and parliamentary affairs minister of Bangladesh, dismissed the US State Department report saying it was not objective.

Reacting to the report that said there was a significant rise in extra-judicial killings, minister Ahmed claimed that only listed criminals had been killed in shootouts with the RAB and the police. He said no innocent people or political personalities had been killed.