PMO fears breakdown in field administration

Rozina Islam: The Prime Minister’s Office apprehends unrest in the field-level administration due to the unwritten understanding between the police and the political forces. It has accordingly sent letters to the public administration ministry, the home ministry and the cabinet division, to resolve the conflict between the field level police administration and the district administration.

This was revealed in a letter of the prime ministers office along with an attached report.

The report stated, “It is noted that many police officers use political influence and money to get promoted from the rank of Additional SP to district SP. Once in that rank, they are filled with self-importance and their main aim is to make money under political patronage. As a result, the common man is harassed in various ways.”

The report said that similarly the Officer-in-Charge (OC) at the upazila level police station often sidesteps the upazila nirbahi officer (UNO).

The Prime Minister’s Office sent this letter to the prime minister’s political advisor HT Imam, the public administration secretary, the home secretary and the cabinet secretary, asking for measures to be taken to resolve the conflict between the police super (SP) and the deputy commissioner (DC) in the field level administration.

The report attached with the letter states that the adverse relations between the deputy commissioner and the police super was disrupting important government work. This was having a negative impact on the people and the government’s image was being tarnished.

The report presents examples, analyses and recommendations concerning the situation emerging from the conflict between the police and the district administration. In keeping with the letter from the prime minister’s office, the home ministry has issued a letter to Inspector General of Police Hasan Mahmud Khandakar. Similarly the public administration ministry and the cabinet division also are issuing letters to the authorities concerned.

The report of the prime minister’s office said that the SPs and DCs lacked the attitude that they are not separate, but complementary to each other. This gave rise to unrest in the administration. The report also said that the Rules of Business clearly defined the duties of the DCs and SPs and that everyone was accountable for their actions. So if administrative work between the DCs and SPs deteriorates, that would be a violation of the law.

Senior home secretary Mozammel Huq admits to receiving the letter and tells Prothom Alo, “The letter apprehends a break in the chain of command and we are taking measures accordingly. While this is not the situation all over the country, everyone is aware of the incidents in Narayanganj, Munshiganj, Jamalpur and Nawabganj. We have decided to send letters to the concerned persons in order to prevent the situation from deteriorating any further.”

The report of the prime minister’s office says, “The psychological conflict between the DC and the SP at the field level has come out into the open. They both want to prove themselves the stronger than the other. As the police are a law enforcing agency and has arms, they have closer ties with the politicians. The unwritten understanding between the police and the politicians instigates the police to do as they please. And on the other hand, the DCs haven’t been able to shrug off their colonial mindset as head of the district administration. As a result, the gap between the two administrations is widening.

The report says that the officers of the civil administration (deputy secretaries) appointed as DCs are senior in age and service to the SPs. The DCs at present are of the 10th to the 13th BCS batches. And the SPs are from the 17th to the 20th batches. It is alleged that despite the DCs being senior to them, the SPs often treat them with disrespect.

Two incidents: The prime minister’s office report states that before the Narayanganj-5 by-elections on 8 June, the police super of Narayanganj at the time organised a meeting to discuss the law and order situation. On the same day the DC organised a meeting of the law and order committee. The DC had not been aware of the SP’s meeting.

According to the Rules of Business, the DC is responsible for holding meetings related to law and order. The SP cannot summon such meetings. This stirred up animosity in the administration. When the matter stirred resentment among the bureaucrats, the cabinet division asked the home ministry to look into the matter.

The DC and SP were both withdrawn from the area and replaced. The present DC and SP say that they have no problems and are working in harmony.

The second incident cited in the report is about the Gajaria incident. On 22 March, the day of the by-election at Gajaria, Munshiganj, the UNO and assistant returning officer ATS Mahbubul Karim was physically assaulted by the Louhajang police station ASI Mohammed Emdad who also threatened to kill him with his pistol. The SP Habibur Rahman took no action. After much ruckus, he was finally withdrawn.

Public administration secretary Kamal Abdul Naser says that these are isolated incidents, but they are alert.

When asked about this prevailing situation in the administration and what was to be done, the prime minister’s political advisor HT Imam refrained from comment.


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