Bangladesh

As crooked as a cop can get

In November 2015, a police probe found the then officer-in-charge Pradeep Kumar Das of Bayezid Bostami Police Station guilty of filing a false case against an oil company high-ups to harass them.

Police Headquarters later suspended and attached him to Range Reserve Police.

But within a couple of months, Pradeep was back in Chattogram Metropolitan Police (CMP) with a "good post". He joined the  Detective Branch of police.

The OC, now accused of murdering Major (retd) Sinha Md Rashed Khan in Cox's Bazar, served as OCs at different police stations in Chattogram, police sources said.

During his 24 years in the force, he had been suspended, withdrawn, and stand released several times over various allegations, including harassing people and extorting money from them.

Despite having a bad record, he became OCs at important police stations, the sources said, adding that there were allegations that he had "spent" a huge amount of money to get the posts.

Pradeep was withdrawn on Wednesday from Teknaf Police Station after he was sued for killing the former major. He surrendered before a Cox's Bazar court yesterday that placed him on a seven-day remand of Rab.

During his two-year stay as Teknaf OC, incidents of "shootouts" surged, especially after a countrywide anti-narcotics drive.

He was awarded the Bangladesh Police Medal in 2019 for his so-called courageous operations.

According to police sources, Pradeep is from Boalkhali upazila in Chattogram. He joined Bangladesh Police in 1996.

He spent most of his career in the CMP and Cox's Bazar areas.

He was the OC of Bayezid Bostami, Patenga, Panchlaish police stations in the CMP and Cox's Bazar Sadar, Ukhiya, Maheshkhali police stations before taking the charge of Teknaf Police Station.

On August 4, 2015, when Pradeep was the OC of Bayezid Bostami Police Station, a police team seized a tanker lorry laden with 9,000 litres of fuel from an oil refinery.

A case was filed against 10 high-ups of the oil company, including its chairman and managing director, under the Special Powers Act for transporting "illegal fuel".

The company denied the allegation and lodged a complaint with the police headquarters. It also said the OC had demanded bribes.

A probe committee, led by an additional deputy inspector general, in its report said Pradeep and other policemen misused their powers and filed the case to harass the company officials.

Pradeep and two sub-inspectors were suspended.

When Pradeep was the OC in Maheshkhali Police Station, there were allegations that he helped local criminal gang -- Ferdous Bahini.

Introducing himself as an Awami League man, he used to be in the extended AL meetings in the upazila.

Local AL leaders even informed their high-ups about Pradeep, some of them claimed.

Locals lodged complainants against him with the offices of the deputy commissioner and superintendent of police and demanded he be removed, locals claimed.

In 2012, when Pradeep was the OC of Patenga Police Station, he seized a barge. Eighteen days later, police filed a case against 12 people, including barge owners, under the Special Powers Act.

The incident triggered criticism, and police headquarters and some intelligence wings carried out investigations.

Pradeep was withdrawn from the police station over allegation of harassing the barge owners.

He became the OC of Teknaf Model Police Station on October 19, 2018.

At least 87 people were killed in 48 incidents of "gunfights" involving Teknaf police alone between August 1, 2018, and August 1, 2020, according to reports published by this daily.

Many of the victims' family had said their loved ones were picked up by Teknaf police a day or two before they were killed in so-called shootouts. They had said their loved ones were killed after they failed to bribe Teknaf police.

Pradeep in a recent Facebook video post threatened of "ghostly attacks" on yaba traders' homes, shops, and vehicles to rid Teknaf of drugs.

"Those homes will be ghostly attacked. Some houses will ghostly catch fire. Some vehicles may catch fire ghostly," he said.

"We have taken out activities to uproot yaba traders from every neighborhood like we remove cancerous parts of our body. Our activities have started," he said, adding that house of one Mamun of Sabrang union came under ghostly attack and fire.

Many questioned how a law enforcement officer could publicly threaten attacks and arsons.

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