Every year, Ministry of Information in Bangladesh provides millions of takas to several film production companies for making quality movies. But according to a recent report published in vernacular weekly Jamjamat, major segment of the recipients of this government’s grant belong to anti-Awami League bloc – more precisely Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
During this Eid, a Bangla film named ‘Goloi’ has been released throughout the country. The film is directed by S A Haque Olike, who according to the Facebook ID is a Bangladeshi film director, producer, lyricist, write and actor. But, one of the most disturbing facts about this person is – he is a diehard activist of Bangladesh Nationalist Party and once was known as a “Hawa Bhaban” man. Commenting on S A Haque Olike getting government’s grant for making a film, Jamjamat in its report said: “…There is nothing to lose for ‘Golou’ a film directed by S A Haque Olike, as it is made with government’s grant. Ministry of Information has funded this project. The director who received the grant money has no past record of making any praiseworthy movie in this entire career. People may say, he has made several hit movies. If the director of a hit movie is the only or main qualification for getting grant, then Tozammel Haque Bokul, director of the blockbuster ‘Beder Meye Jostna’ should have received government’s grant for dozens of movies. But Mr. Bokul didn’t get grant for making even one film. And what is the political background of S A Haque Olike? According to sources, he is a disciple of film director late Amjad Hossain, who was known as a “Hawa Bhaban” filmmaker – spiritual son of Khaleda Zia and soldier of General Zia, one of the main conspirators behind the assassination of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Therefore, S A Haque Olike is the flag bearer of BNP genre. Will the country’s intelligence agencies investigate why a man like him [with anti Awami League political background] was provided grant for making of a film?”
The Jamjamat report further said, “Bangladesh’s cine sector is currently facing a deep crisis. On the one hand, the cohort of one of the ministers, who is infamous as ‘sand looter’ is controlling the sector while on another side, Khaleda Zia’s “spiritual son” [a controversial movie actor and politician] is also exerting influence in the film sector.
Who is the sand looter?
According to vernacular daily Jugantor, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has found preliminary evidences against Selim Khan, chairman of Laxmipur Union Parishad in Chandpur district of embezzling several thousand crores of takas.
Meanwhile, another vernacular newspaper The Vorer Pata in its exclusive report said: “Chandpur city, the capital of Hilsa [fish] is the Meghna basin is being swallowed by an individual known as close associate of the Education Minister Dipu Moni. Locals fear that the city will be submerged in the river at one time due to illegal sand lifting in hundreds of places in the adjacent river of the city.
“It is leaned that Selim Khan alias Chora Selim used to serve tea at various clubs in the capital city. From there he got acquainted to Ismail Chowdhury Samrat, the expelled president of Dhaka Metropolitan South Juba League. Samrat currently is in prison. Selim Khan began illegally lifting sand from the Meghna river by using influence of his friendship with Ismail Chowdhury Samrat and with the direct help of Dr. Wadud Tipu, brother of the Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni. Such connections changed the life of Selim Khan.
“On several occasion, Education Minister Dipu Moni has issued DO letters to various minister on behalf of this controversial Selim. On August 18, 2021, the minister sent a DO letter to the Secretary of the Ministry of Food, copy of which has reached the Vorer Pata”.
According to BLiTZ investigation, Selim Khan owns a film production company named ‘Shapla Media’, a, IP-based TV channel named ‘Voice TV’, an OTT platform named ‘Cinebuzz’ and a vernacular daily newspaper published from Chandpur district. He also has opened office of Shapla Media in Kolkata, West Bengal, although it is not clear if he has obtained required permission from the Bangladesh Bank and relevant ministry for transferring millions of takas to India for starting this venture. It is rumored that Selim Khan, with the active collaboration of a number of his aides in Bangladesh and India has smuggled-out several billion takas to India and invested in the film sector as well as in some other business ventures.
Seeking anonymity, a source told this correspondent that, the key reason behind Selim Khan’s involvement in the film sector and entertainment industry is to whiten his black money. It said, accomplices of Selim Khan openly proclaim stating law enforcement agencies are “no one can even pluck a hair of him [Selim] as country’s law enforcement agencies and influential people in the government as inside pocket” of Selim Khan”.