THE incidents of extrajudicial killings and political murders appear to have increased alarmingly in the capital and across the country despite protests from opposition political parties and human rights groups from home and abroad. As we see a hapless nation is witnessing growing incidents of killings almost everyday in joint forces operations at various places. The victims are killed in what the law enforcers said were ‘gunfights’ or found dead after being picked up from homes. At least 14 people have been shot dead by joint forces since January 6, a day after the parliamentary polls, in addition to over 138 persons including 32 political leaders and activists who were killed or found dead across the country. The political victims included 11 leaders and activists of BNP, nine each of Awami League (AL) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), and three belonged to the Jatiya Party. Local BNP and JI leaders and workers are now regularly killed in mysterious circumstances or shot dead by law enforcers while the AL victims were mainly killed by unidentified assailants mostly in factional clashes. The situation is turning ‘outrageous’ and human rights groups have blamed the farcical elections as the prime reasons for the spate of killings. The government is running the joint forces operations now to destroy the opposition at the grassroots and kill their opponents. Meanwhile crime data showed the year 2013 was the most turbulent year in the last decade in when 4,393 murders were recorded – the highest in a single year. In September last year alone, at least 376 murders were recorded and the number was 353 in October, 354 in November and 404 in December. Data provided by Dhaka Metropolitan Police moreover, showed 33 murders were recorded in last December alone in the capital; the number was 20 each in November and October while 19 were killed in September. Meanwhile, the joint forces are chasing the opposition people at their homes at most places such as in Satkhira, Jessore, Rajshahi, Naogaon, Gaibandha and Pabna where more bodies are recovered everyday now–bodies of people either killed without trial or in gunfights. Such killings were earlier called ‘encounters’ and then deaths due to ‘cross-fire’. Now it is ‘gunfights’. But these are mostly targeted political killings, according to Bangladesh Human Rights Commission and people don’t know where to turn to ask for a halt to the killing and demand justice. BNP and JI have publicly blamed the joint forces for killing their local men but it appears that the government is not paying any heed to the complaints. New York based Human Rights Watch has renewed its appeal again yesterday to the government to stop the extrajudicial killings. But the authorities made it clear that the joint forces would continue operations till April this year. We are in fact bewildered by the fact that some areas of our countryside have become the valley of death and the law enforcers are chasing people and destroying their homes on political considerations instead of protecting them. Meanwhile the crime data showed that police and such other forces have no intention to stop such killings or murders while outwardly working as an auxiliary force of the ruling party. We hope they would protect the people in need of protection.