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Monday, 18 February, 2002, 10:18 GMT
Bangladesh students allege police torture
Bangladeshi police
Improving law and order is the government's top priority
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By the BBC's Alistair Lawson in Dhaka

Students in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka have accused police of arresting and torturing innocent people during a crackdown on organised crime at the weekend.

They failed to arrest those who are criminals

Dhaka University student

Hundreds of policemen and paramilitary personnel took part in the massive security operation which was centred around Dhaka's main university.

About 300 suspected criminals were rounded up, many with alleged connections to extortion rackets.

The government said the operation represented the fulfilment of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's pledge to get tough on organised crime and terrorism.

But student leaders say the police behaved brutally during the carefully-planned and highly secretive raid.

Spiralling lawlessness

Police said at least 48 listed criminals were caught in the raid, which they said was vital in order to curtail spiralling violent crime in the capital.

Dhaka street scene
A reward of $260,000 has been offered to catch 23 top criminals

But student leaders said not one targeted criminal was captured.

One student, Hussain, who was caught up in the raid, said the police arrested the wrong people.

"They failed to arrest those who are criminals... I don't know why they didn't arrest them. But they have arrested many innocent students," he told the BBC.

"They cannot arrest people without an arrest warrant. It is totally unacceptable," he said.

Dhaka University, which with about 30,000 students is the biggest in the country, is well known for frequent outbreaks of lawlessness.

Although much of this is between students who support either the government or the opposition, authorities say the campus is also being used by gun-runners and extortionists.

See also:

16 Feb 02 | South Asia
Bangladesh cracks down on crime
10 Oct 01 | South Asia
New Bangladesh PM promises order
09 May 01 | South Asia
Dhaka police fear crime wave
06 May 99 | South Asia
Bangladesh police arrest 15,000
30 Mar 98 | S/W Asia
Bangladesh approves new assault laws
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