How to get away with murder

Killing the truth has never been an easy task, yet people in society tend to kill it for their own good by shunning the greater interest of the society. When they cannot kill the truth, the individual or group makes every attempt to assassinate the character of the individual who holds the truth.

A deplorable attempt at character assassination was made to hide the truth

The worst-case scenario of such assassinations happen when individuals of state institutions get involved in such heinous acts — they tend to create hurdles on the pathway to justice as well as assassinate the character of the victim to protect the real criminals.

The aftermath of the killing of Major (Retd) Sinha Md Rashed Khan has unfolded in a similar situation. After the killing, the Teknaf police made every attempt to frame the slain major and his companions with drugs — a common feature when it comes to killing in the name of the anti-narcotic drive. In a desperate bid to kill the truth, the local police, as well as some senior police officers, have made a desperate attempt to assassinate the character of Shipra Debnath.

A careful look into the first information report filed by the police at the Ramu Police Station revealed this shocking fact. In the FIR, the police used some specific wording to portray Shipra Debnath as a woman possessing a negative character. The FIR described that Shipra and the slain major were “quite close” to each other, “came together” at the Nilima Resort, and “stayed together” in the same room. There is hardly any need to explain what these words mean. These words were good enough to assassinate her character.

Several of her photographs have been circulating on social media which have been allegedly leaked from the computer and personal devices belonging to her. How come these were leaked when the devices were seized by the police? Perhaps it was an insider’s job.

Perhaps, it was a deliberate effort to defame Shipra by assassinating her character — a weapon that has been proven to be very useful against women. The broader objective may have been a different one — getting away with the sensational extra-judicial killing.

The malicious attempt did not stop there — at least two senior police officers took it to social media and questioned Shipra’s character. While many agreed with them, many questioned the intention of the police and opined that it was a blatant effort of justifying a crime and drive people’s attention from the murder case to Shipra Debnath.

In a male-dominated society like Bangladesh, this is nothing new. We have seen in the past that when a woman’s name is involved in any kind of criminal activity, we tend to discuss her character more instead of analyzing whether she was involved with the crime or not. When it comes to rape or sexual harassment cases, we see the same trend — discussing the victim rather than the perpetrator.

The character assassination attempt by a section of police officials seems to have achieved what it had intended to. Social media started judging Shipra’s character based on the words of another. Some even questioned how a personality like Sinha could get attached to her. Instead of studying the motives of the murder, they started casting a bad judgment on her character. Instead of judging Shipra’s character, we should have studied the motives behind the words of the person casting the bad judgment.

An honest woman can mind her own business all day and remain a decent person till her death, but there will always be those who try to convince people otherwise. Perhaps she declined to do something or give something for free or did not listen to advice. She might have simply declined to stand with their wrongdoings — or just stood up for something she felt was right.

A section of police officials, including the Teknaf police, acted in the most devious way trying to wreck Shipra’s character. They did not act out of hate, rather they have tried to damage the victim’s character as a means in realizing their own goal — getting away with murder.

These police officials have no sense of remorse and acted without any conscience. They did not bother at all about what might have happened after they destroyed someone by assassinating her character. Instead of aiding the victim, they have committed clandestine character assassination and violated her rights to getting justice.

To conclude, we can take a cue from how Bangladesh Police views human rights. According to the website of the frontline law enforcing agency:

“Bangladesh Police aims to enhance the capacity and willingness of all its members to contribute collaboratively to the creation of a safer and securer environment based on respect for human rights, equitable access to justice, and rule of law in accordance with the spirit of our constitution and the principles of the universal human rights. We always attach paramount importance to uphold the cause of human rights. Members of our law enforcement agencies are well conversant with the Constitutional Guarantees regarding the ‘Inherence’ and ‘Inalienability’ of human rights.”

The extra-judicial killing of Sinha Rashed and subsequent behaviour of Teknaf police and other senior police officers perhaps speak otherwise. It is time that this agency act firmly against such corrupt officials and show zero tolerance to character assassination of the victims. It should stand ready to serve the victim and the vulnerable people of the country who desperately need their support.

This was first published in the Dhaka Tribune on 26 August 2020. Click here to read on the site.

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