Notwithstanding the police headquarters' announcement of zero tolerance to drug abuse or involvement in drug peddling in any way by members of the police, such abuses are reported time and again. The campaign against drug abuse and trade was launched in September last and dope tests of 100 suspected policemen of different units and divisions of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) were carried out. As many as 26 of those tested positive and there was news of initiation of the process of termination of their service. Whether they were sacked or not could not be ascertained. But on Sunday last, report had it that 10 members of the police were fired. Just a day later a team of the Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) arrested an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) with 3,198 yaba pills and a bottle of phensedyl from his house in Thikadarpara, Rangpur. The ASI, according to a senior police officer, had once been suspended from job earlier. Like old habits, bad habits also die hard.
Drug cartels have long chosen Bangladesh both as a route and destination of various narcotics. But it is yaba pills that have posed the greatest threat to the country's young and older generations. Its widespread distribution has become a cause for serious concern. The police hierarchy's drive against this social and moral vice is highly appreciated because it has rightly diagnosed where the treatment is needed most urgently. If the guards appointed to protect wealth collude with thieves, theft cannot be prevented. In this case, the law enforcers by turning a blind eye to drug smuggling and peddling or even helping smugglers or peddlers carry out the illegal trade in exchange for fat bribes have not helped the cause. This is exactly why the high officials in the police have repeatedly been issuing stern warnings against drug taking and trade by members of the police.
Punishment such as dismissal from service, however, will not solve the problem. As the Rangpur ASI's case testifies, he learnt no lesson from his earlier suspension. Those who become addicted ---no matter if the persons concerned are members of the law enforcement agencies or public ---would be better off if there is a well-developed system of rehabilitation for them. It is a slow and painstaking process. Rehabilitation centres in this country are also not well-equipped to treat addicts. Loss of job may also turn them into hardened criminals.
Once someone falls prey to addiction, s/he is a mental patient and therefore such addicts need help from clinical psychology. Members of the police are no different. There are many temptations before them. Vulnerability to drug abuse ought to be taken care of as a pre-emptive measure during training. But if temptation of unearned money drives members of the police into drug peddling or collusion in such acts, surely they deserve no mercy. If the police cannot maintain discipline in their personal life, the bad influence of their moral degradation and bad habits is bound to vitiate their service to the people. So the police headquarters' message is loud and clear.