Tuesday, August 19, 2008

New DMP branch to police political parties

New DMP branch to police political parties
AL, BNP deem it a move to harass leaders, activists
Source: Daily Star
August 18, 2008

Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) has launched a new intelligence wing recently to gather information in advance about the activities of different political parties and their front organisations.

Two major political parties--the Awami League (AL) and BNP--said the new intelligence wing has been set up to harass political party leaders and activists.

DMP Commissioner Naim Ahmed, however, said the objective of the Political Intelligence Office (PIO) is not to harass anyone; it is rather to collect information about any incident quickly so that the police can take preventive measures before it escalates into something bigger which may become difficult to handle.

Police sources said after collecting information the PIO will inform the deputy commissioners' offices of the area concerned about the matter.

The PIO will be given the responsibility of collecting details of leaders and activists of different political parties and their front organisations and make a database with the collected data. The PIO will also prepare analytical reports on important political matters.

It has already started gathering information on political agitations, student unrests and violence in garment factories in coordination with Special Branch (SB) of Police in Dhaka.

The PIO has been set up with a specialised team of officials from the Detective Branch (DB) of Police. Deputy Commissioner of South Zone DB Awlad Hossain will supervise the team led by an assistant commissioner of DB.

DB sources said DMP Commissioner Naim Ahmed in an order dated August 12 set up the PIO. Initially, five officials led by an assistant commissioner are working to figure out the PIO's modus operandi.

"The PIO has been set up so that we can get information on any kind of political and other agitations as those initiate and before those spread," DB Deputy Commissioner Awalad Hossain told The Daily Star.

He said, "If we can get any information in advance, we will be able to take preventive measures before the small incident escalates into something big."

DMP Commissioner Naim Ahmed told BBC Bangla Service yesterday that he has set up the PIO under Dhaka Metropolitan Police Rules, 2006.


Major political parties, meantime, termed the move illogical and anti-democratic.

Awami League presidium member Motia Chowdhury said it is a ploy to control politics even further and turn the country into a police state.

She said when the government cannot maintain law and order and give people security, it wants to let loose the police on the political parties.

Terming the move illogical, BNP chairperson's adviser Brig Gen (retd) ASM Hannan Shah said the police department should open a new wing to improve the deteriorating law and order instead of snooping on political parties.

"No civilised society has such practices. It is immoral of the present caretaker government. All including the civil society should protest it," he told The Daily Star.

Jatiya Party (JP) acting chairman barrister Anisul Islam Mahmud said no political party would welcome the move.

"It won't be right to engage the police in gathering intelligence on political parties when there is a normal process of collecting information for maintaining law and order," he said.

"Covert surveillance by the police on political parties and political activities is against democratic principles and practices," said Workers' Party President Rahsed Khan Menon.

"I see no reason to launch it," he said.

Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (JSD) President Hasanul Haque Inu said the government should instead increase the competence and manpower of traditional intelligence agencies.

"The intention to spy on political parties is bad," Inu said.

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