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Monday, 10 December, 2001, 13:53 GMT
Dhaka lynchings spread alarm
Preparing for Eid
Preparations for Eid have been marked by more muggings
By the BBC's Moazzem Hossain in Dhaka

Rising incidents of mob-violence have alarmed police officials in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka where an estimated 14 people were killed by angry mobs over the last 10 days.

In the latest incident on Sunday, four suspected muggers were hacked to death on a busy Dhaka street in broad daylight.

Social scientists and criminologists say this dangerous trend is the symptom of people's declining confidence on the country's police and judicial system.

Mob-violence has reached alarming proportions at a time when the new government of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia is desperately trying to improve its law and order record.

Figures contradicted

On Monday a government handout claimed that the crime rate has fallen since the new government took over last October.

However, newspaper reports contradict government statistics.

Hat seller
Shopping areas are more crowded, making crime easier

The Daily Observer newspaper says, ahead of the main Muslim festival of Eid, mugging is on rise in the city.

The government has tried to improve the situation by deploying more policemen on city streets to ensure the security of shoppers.

However, everyday an increasing number of mugging incidents are being reported to the city's police stations.

Police officials say all the 14 victims who were lynched on the streets of Dhaka were suspected muggers caught by the public.

'Police not around'

A crime reporter with the Daily Star of Dhaka, Sheikh Nazrul Islam, said the true number of street crimes in Dhaka was much higher than the official figure, as many victims did not go to police stations to lodge complaints.

Police beat demonstrator
People are highly critical of the police

He said people simply did not trust the police anymore as they were never available to help the victims of mugging.

Sociologist Professor Borhanuddin Khan of the Dhaka University says the painful incidents of mob beatings are a sign that people are losing their confidence on the country's police force and the judicial system.

Dr Khan says the main reason why people killed suspected muggers on the streets is the widespread belief that if the muggers were handed over to the police, they would simply buy their way to freedom by bribing the police.

Bangladesh's police department was rated as the country's most corrupt institution earlier in the year by international anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International.

The chief of the Bangladesh police, Inspector-General Modabbir Hossain Chowdhury, denies that the loss of public confidence on the police is the main reason for the recent increase in lynchings.

He does admit that police officials are concerned at the sudden increase in these tragic events.

However, Mr Chowdhury claims that it reflects people's willingness to co-operate with police to fight street crime.

See also:

10 Oct 01 | South Asia
New Bangladesh PM promises order
09 May 01 | South Asia
Dhaka police fear crime wave
09 Apr 01 | South Asia
Bangladesh hit by more strikes
14 Apr 01 | South Asia
Bangladesh bomb: Man arrested
29 Mar 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Bangladesh
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