Rapid Action Battalion or RAB is an anti-crime and anti-terrorism elite force in Bangladesh. It is under the jurisdiction of the Bangladeshi Ministry of Home Affairs. It was formed on 26 March 2004, started its operations from 14 April 2004 and initially, it consisted of members of the Bangladesh Army, Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Air Force and the Police.
Since its inception, the RAB has seized a total of 1577 illegal arms and 15645 rounds of ammunition. It has also had many notable arrests.
Although the RAB has been successful in apprehending several high-profile terrorists including the infamous Bangla Bhai, Amnesty International has criticized the RAB’s lack of accountability as it has been responsible for many deaths which have been attributed to crossfire. There have also been many reports of arbitrary torture.
Despite protests from the main opposition party, the Awami League, the Bangladesh National Party denies that the RAB has been used for political ends.
According to the Daily Star, a Bangladeshi English-language newspaper, concern over extra-judicial killings is exceeded by a desire for law and order thus there is a “fair amount of public support for the Rab”.
Weapons used by RAB
RAB members are well equipped compared to other law enforcement agencies in Bangladesh. The following weapons are generally issued to them
- AK-47 rifles (both with fixed and folding buttstock)
- Heckler & Koch MP5K submachine guns (usually with 20 round magazine)
- Uzi submachine guns
- FN HP pistols
- Colt M1911 pistols
- Dragunov sniper rifle (actually China made copy) – Very rarely issued
Also when employed for crowd control purpose RAB members use traditional weapons like sticks or batons.