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19 January, 2022 09:28:32 PM

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Should Bangladesh disband RAB?

RAB always remains vigilant and has conducted many patrolling and other activities all over the country to counter human trafficking. Since 2004, RAB conducted 333 operations in various human trafficking cases, arrested 1,238 people, and rescued a total of 1,280 people.
Ozair Islam
Should Bangladesh disband RAB?

The US imposed sanctions on Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and seven of its current and former officials accusing human rights violations through enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings on December 10, 2021. The sanction means that RAB will not be permitted to purchase properties in the USA nor engage in any financial transaction with any US entity.

The situation becomes much more perplexing when the US Department of State published the 2020 Country Reports on Terrorism on December 16, 2021 where RAB has been reportedly praised for its success in cutting down terrorism in Bangladesh. Amid this confusion and crisis, critics raise a question, citing the allegations mentioned as a justifications for imposing sanctions, "Does Bangladesh really need RAB?"

The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), part of Bangladesh Police under the Ministry of Home Affairs, started its journey as an elite paramilitary force of Bangladesh on March 26, 2004. Since then, RAB has been successfully combating terrorism, extremism, and militancy, human-trafficking, drug abuse and proliferation, illegal firearms and ammunition, etc.

Since its inception, RAB has been combating drug smuggling and has arrested 48,491 nefarious drug dealers and criminals and recovered 762 kg heroine, 37,31,418 bottles of Phensedyl, 1,34,711 kg of cannabis, 94,035 kg of hashish, and approximately 60 million Yaba pills. Besides, RAB has conducted many successful firearms operations and recovered a total of 17,664 weapons so far.

RAB's outstanding achievement is substantially de-activating religiously motivated extremists. It has been conducting repressive operations since its inception to control the situation and arrested 2,729 militants, including top militant leader Shaikh Abdur Rahman and Bangla Bhai. It has neutralized one of the most notorious criminals who were responsible for many killings in Bangladesh's western region and were behind the nationwide bomb attacks in 2005. RAB also besieged Atia Mahal, a militant shelter in Sylhet which helped to earn success in a nerve-racking mission called ‘Operation Twilight’. The elite force also fought with courage to end Bangladesh's worst hostage crisis; the attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka. Since 2009, RAB has been able to bring the 323 militants to justice. RAB has demonstrated its success in bringing peace to the region by arresting an estimated 428 extremist leaders at various levels.

RAB along with the executive magistrates successfully conducted over 25,100 mobile court operations against food adulteration, child marriages, eve-teasing, land robbery, environmental pollution, hospital malpractice, syndicate business, illegal building construction, gas and electricity theft, illegal brick kilns, river occupation, and drug trade. Even amid the covid-19 pandemic, 3,662 mobile court operations were conducted and BDT 53,21,02,006 taka fines were charged.

RAB forces have always played a leading role in curbing juvenile delinquency. Therefore, RAB has arranged an awareness campaign against juvenile delinquency to get tender-hearted teenagers back on the right path. The brutality of teenage gang violence was exposed in 2017 through the murder of Adnan in Uttara. After the incident, RAB launched a campaign against the Kishore Gangs and arrested 08 people including their main leader 'Talachabi Razu` and the leader of 'Disco Boys'.

RAB always remains vigilant and has conducted many patrolling and other activities all over the country to counter human trafficking. Since 2004, RAB conducted 333 operations in various human trafficking cases, arrested 1,238 people, and rescued a total of 1,280 people.

Bangladesh was the first Muslim-majority country in South Asia to preserve secularism in its constitution. RAB is continuously working to ensure a peaceful environment where all the minorities live peacefully. RAB always works to immediately address any attack that occurs to the minorities. For instance, in 2021, RAB took an all-out effort to maintain security during the Durga Puja festival and promptly arrested 37 main culprits who took active parts in conducting violence and agitated people through social media. The cyber monitoring team of RAB also detected propaganda in social media and notified countrymen by taking appropriate actions.

According to a public opinion survey on the perception of security providers conducted by a UK-based firm, the RAB was rated at the top which is definitely a glaring recognition. This clearly demonstrates that RAB, as a force, complies with all laws and conventions connected with human rights, thus ensuring its accountability to proper law enforcement.

The socioeconomic context of Bangladesh is different from that of Western countries. The policing system of one country may not perfectly match, for all matters, with the context of other countries. To ensure peace and stability in Bangladesh, the country needs a special force like RAB. And, suggestion to disband RAB is not simply illogical, it is also like "cutting the head to cure headache".

The writer is working as a consultant to a Bangladeshi NGO.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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