The recent deployment of ansar members at the residences of 58 UNOs in Rangpur division is not enough to ensure their security, a UNO says
The safety issue of the field level officials of the country's public administration has come under question again with the vicious attack on a sleeping Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) in Dinajpur's Ghoraghat at the early hours of Thursday.
Analysts have termed the deadly attack on UNO Wahida Khanam at her residence as alarming for the entire society, saying it may hurt these frontline fighters' spirit in rendering duties unless they feel safe enough.
While operating mobile courts and making drives against illegal activities, they often come under political threats as they take many decisions which irk many. But attacking them for their legal actions is upsetting, they add.
UNOs from across the country have also raised their voices, seeking sufficient security arrangements from the government.
"Who will dare, from now on, to launch operations against land or river grabbers?", voiced Helaluddin Ahmed, senior secretary of the local government ministry and president of Bangladesh Administrative Service Association.
Every year, hundreds of public administration officials receive threats and many are injured while operating mobile courts and making other drives, he also said.
"We have been asking for gunmen or armed policemen for the UNOs' safety for several years. But our demand has not been met yet," he said, drawing the home ministry's attention to this issue.
Wishing not to be named, an UNO from Rangpur district told The Business Standard that she had been threatened several times for launching operations against illegal establishments.
"Local politicians do not care about us as we do not have adequate security or any armed guard. Even in many circumstances, they do not hesitate to hit UNOs physically. Think how safe we are at remote areas!"
Meanwhile, the government has already deployed ansar members at the residences of 58 UNOs in Rangpur division to ensure their security.
A UNO from Rajshahi division, wishing anonymity, told The Business Standard that the recent deployment of ansar members is not enough.
"We demanded at least ansar members from the battalion who have training on how to use guns. But the deployed ones do not have any rifle training," she added.
Ali Imam Majumder, former cabinet secretary and principal secretary to the Prime Minister's Office, told The Business Standard that UNOs are the heart of the public administration. So, their safety should get paramount importance.
"They [UNOs] become targets of perpetrators when they operate mobile courts against illegal land and river encroachers. So, there should be an armed police member with them all the time to ensure their safety," he said.
"Risking life for the sake of people is not a crime. Their safety must be ensured. Many local goons and vested groups got impunity in previous incidents. But the government should ensure justice this time," Ali Imam added.
Security analyst Brigadier (retd) Sakhawat Hossain said government officials' residences should have been more secure.
"If such incidents [attack] happen there, we can easily assume the safety of the common people. I do not think the country's ordinary people have any safety."