Officers of the Department of Narcotics Control were supposed to start donning a new uniform in September, but the plan has been put on ice as its design and colour combination purportedly clashed with that of another agency.
The attires of all DNC units have already been stitched up in line with a notice issued a year ago, according to officials.
In May 2021, the home ministry's Security Services Division ratified a dress code for field-level DNC officers, complete with badges based on their ranks. Turkish blue shirts and deep navy blue trousers along with caps bearing the agency's logo were commissioned by the authorities.
Mukul Jyoti Chakma, deputy director of the agency's Chattogram unit, said the department instructed them to have the uniforms made in the specified colours locally.
He accounted that the narcotics watchdog has over 3,000 members around the country. “All personnel probably have their uniforms ready. Now they just have to wear them. The directive to begin putting on the uniform has to come from higher-ups.”
In July, the DNC headquarters decided in principle that the new uniforms would be worn from Sept 1. But at the end of August, the unit chiefs were asked to put the matter on hold through a verbal directive.
A few field-level staff claim there are many who are opposed to the idea of the DNC becoming a fully-fledged force and these quarters are creating obstacles.
However, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said that the narcotics department will have its own distinct attire, pointing out that the colours of the uniforms ordered for the agency are “somewhat similar” to another force's.
Khan said a change in the outfit's colour scheme is now being considered.
From sepoy to inspector, all officers of the agency used to sport khaki colours as per a 2014 directive. But members of the force had issues with the colour, which led to the move to change it seven years later.
The dress code mandate issued in 2021 requires ranked and non-ranked personnel - from additional directors, sepoys, and wireless operators to drivers - to wear the uniform.
However, no dress code was mentioned for the director general, additional director general and directors.
Officials of the anti-narcotics watchdog said the DNC is a member of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
The UN receives information on Bangladesh’s narcotics-related issues from the agency and provides assistance by training its members and delivering equipment.
Holding the status of a law enforcement agency, just like the police and the Anti-Corruption Commission, officials said the DNC can investigate the laundering of drug proceeds and other cases. But they are a force “without the means” to enforce the law.