Home Asia At least 86 killed and 7,000 arrested in Bangladesh anti-drugs campaign

At least 86 killed and 7,000 arrested in Bangladesh anti-drugs campaign


At least 86 people have been killed and 7,000 arrested in Bangladesh after police launched a crackdown on drug trafficking this month, officials said.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina approved the anti-narcotics campaign in early May to tackle the spread of ya ba, as methamphetamine worth an estimated $3 bn (2.25 bn) annually, government officials say.

The drug is sourced from Myanmars northeast and smuggled into neighbouring Bangladesh and attempts to tackle the problem have prompted fears from rights activists of a Philippines-style war on drugs.

In recent times, drug dealing has increased and we feel that people should be alert and motivated to act against it, said Devdas Bhattacharya, a senior police official.The process will continue until its eradicated totally.

He said police arrested six people on Sunday, including a 12-year-old boy from Myanmars Rohingya Muslim community, who had carried 3,350 ya ba tablets to the capital, Dhaka.

Bangladesh has said an influx last year of Rohingya fleeing Buddhist-majority Myanmar is partly to blame for soaring methamphetamine use. But many Rohingya say their young people are being pushed into crime because they cannot legally work or, in many cases, get access to aid.

The 86 deaths occurred when police defended themselves in confrontations with suspected drug traffickers, said Mufti Mahmud Khan, a director of the police Rapid Action Battalion.

Its their legal right to save themselves from the attack, Mr Khan said.

Human rights activists are worried the Bangladesh campaign is taking a page from the Philippine drugs war, in which thousands of people have been killed in the past two years.

The Sheikh Hasina government says it is a protector of human rights, so it should reform its domestic record, set an example, instead of wishing to be compared to an abusive regime, said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director for Human Rights Watch.

Ms Ganguly said the government should heed concerns and allegations by families and activists that several of these deaths could be extrajudicial killings.

Interior minister Asaduzzaman Khan rejected the rights groups allegations and denied that police had carried out any extra-judicial killings. He said dozens of police had been injured in anti-drug operations.

The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) said the anti-drugs drive was part of a campaign to intimidate it but Mr Khan also rejected that, saying ruling party members would not be spared if found guilty of drug crimes.

We are determined to save our young generation from the curse of drugs, he said.

Agencies contributed to this report



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