Benazir Ahmed, the outgoing inspector general of police, has sidestepped the question about the killing of Councillor Akramul Haque by the Rapid Action Battalion when he was heading the elite police unit - an incident that prompted the United States government to slap him with a travel ban.
In his final press briefing on Thursday before he hangs up his uniform, Benazir was asked about how he felt about the incident, which occurred during his term as RAB director general in 2018. He declined to comment, saying it was a “legal issue”
“I can’t comment until it’s proven unjust and unethical,” he said adding that the matter was “nothing personal”.
The Teknaf municipality councillor and former president of Upazila Juba League died in a so-called gunfight with a unit of RAB at Noakhalipara area in Cox’s Bazar during an anti-drug drive in May 2018.
Akramul’s family distributed four terrifying audio clips which included the moment of his death, sparking huge controversy and claims that the RAB had planned his killing.
It was followed by the then Human Rights Commission Chairman Kazi Reazul Hoque ordering a judicial probe into all such incidents.
Benazir, who took office as IGP two years after the incident, is due to go into retirement on Friday, bringing an end to a career in law enforcement that spanned almost three and a half decades.
Last year, the US slapped a ban on Benazir and six other former and incumbent RAB officials citing a “severe breach of human rights in the extrajudicial killing” of Akramul.
“My field-level officers did it while following government directives. I did not have any personal conflict with the person who died. Many try to identify it as so, but that’s not the case,” he said.
Benazir said his responsibility was to oversee whether any of his colleagues breached mandates. “Anyone overstepping the rules meets legal actions.”
The IGP stressed the case was scrutinised by magistrate inquiries and he ordered internal questioning during his departure from the RAB. “It’s not true that there hadn’t been any investigation.”
Benazir then said one can only hope to reach “closer to perfection” but never to be perfect. “Achievement is a never-ending process. An organisation is a living entity and all such things are always subject to change. Nothing in an organisation can be achieved all at once.”
The government has drawn up security plans for Benazir during the course of his post-retirement leave.