Graft Allegations: News reports on cops ‘motivated, misleading’

Says police association; TIB chief critical of its ‘stance to protect corrupt officers’

Bangladesh Police Service Association (BPSA) has described the recent media reports on graft allegations against some former and current members of the police force as a smear campaign by the media.

The association came down heavily on the media and also called for exercising more caution while reporting on the police force in future.

In a statement issued yesterday, it claimed that the reports being run by print, electronic, and the social media outlets are partial, motivated, exaggerated, and misleading.

Former inspector general of police Benazir Ahmed has recently come under the spotlight due to reports on his huge properties, including land, houses, and apartments. Benazir and his family had reportedly left the country after the Anti-Corruption Commission started investigating his wealth.

Former Dhaka Metropolitan Police commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia recently hogged the headlines for allegations of corruption.

The BPSA statement came a day after Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan on Thursday said the graft allegations against Asaduzzaman appeared to be based on speculation.

The same day, the BPSA, a platform of the police’s BCS cadre officials, held a meeting at the police headquarters. Some participants of the meeting even demanded that legal action be taken against those involved in publishing such news.

Dr Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), said police’s stance is akin to “shooting the messenger”.

“By doing this, they are actually warning the people and the media that you don’t comment on the graft allegations or publish reports in the media. They are actually threatening the media and the people,” he told The Daily Star when asked for his reaction on the BPSA statement.

He said the BPSA, as a representative association of police, does not want publication of reports on irregularities and corruption by the force members.

BPSA STATEMENT

According to the statement, anti-liberation and anti-state elements, along with cyber terrorists hiding abroad, are using the social media to assassinate the characters of police officers through spreading misinformation. Inspired by them, several media outlets are running biased and negative reports against some former and current members of the police.

The statement, signed by BPSA President Monirul Islam, additional IGP, and General Secretary Golam Mostafa Russel, superintendent of Narayanganj police, said in most cases, the reports did not mention their sources of information. Such reports damage morale and tarnish image of the police members.

It went on to say that because of the police’s successful role against the anti-liberation, communal, and anti-democracy forces’ activities like torching properties and hurling petrol bombs, they are constantly criticising the police force.

It added that some media outlets are publishing negative reports against certain police officers out of personal vengeance and individual interests, which goes against the ethics of journalism.

The BPSA said the media has obligations to publish impartial news. “But for some mysterious reasons, a section of the media is cleverly trying to make the police force controversial, which is nothing but an attempt to stifle honest journalism. Such one-sided behaviour from the media is tantamount to deceiving the general readers.”

In the interest of public safety, the BPSA requested the media to refrain from publishing any misleading reports.

The association’s statement also highlighted the role of police in uprooting terrorism and militancy and also during the Covid-19 pandemic.

IFTEKHARUZZAMAN’S REACTION

Iftekharuzzaman said the BPSA took a stance to save the police officials against whom graft allegations have been brought.

“Instead, they could have said that they were embarrassed by the reports on the allegations against their fellow members. As a police association, it should state that they are ready to cooperate with investigations.

“If they can do it, people’s faith in them would be restored to some extent,” Iftekharuzzaman said.

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