Dhaka, Mar 09: Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan on Saturday defended deaths during alleged crossfires, saying law enforcement agencies only fire in self-defence during anti-drug drives.
“Many civil society members criticise the law enforcement agencies and accuse them of killing innocent people in the pretext of crossfires. I want to make it clear that no one of our forces is killing anyone in the guise of crossfire,” he told an anti-drugs rally at BG Press grounds in Tejgaon.
“During anti-narcotics drives, the law enforcers are forced to retaliate and fire, not to kill anyone but in self-defence,” he said.
Dozens of suspected drug dealers were killed in ‘crossfires’ in Bangladesh last year after the government launched an anti-drugs drive in mid-May. The deaths, often criticised as extra-judicial killings by rights groups, sparked widespread criticisms at home and abroad.
“A list of drug traders has been prepared and drives will continue until they quit,” the Home Minister said. “The prime minister has declared a zero-tolerance policy against drugs.”
He said the government has formulated a new act with tough punishment and the law enforcers are taking stern actions to prevent drug use.
“Our prisons can accommodate 35,000 prisoners but the current number of inmates is 95,000. Most of them have been arrested in drugs-related cases,” he added.