Several leaders of Jatiyatabadi Samajik Sangskritik Sangstha (JASAS) in the cultural wing of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) are actively involved into serious of antigovernment and anti-state activities, including supervising cyber propaganda as well coordinating with various lobbyists in the West, on behalf of BNP – more precisely Tarique Rahman.
According to sources, one of the key funders of the propaganda activities of BNP is Jasas leader Helal Khan, a former film actor, who was accused in 2006 for running illegal VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) business from Dhaka’s Bangla Motor Area. A team of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) raided the office of Helal Khan and recovered huge volume of VOIP equipment and illegal phone cards. It was then revealed that, Khan was running this illegal business under protection of infamous Hawa Bhaban since 2001 from his office in Bangla Motor as well as inside the office of his audio production company Central Music & Video (CMV) in Purana Paltan area. Investigation agencies found that Helal Khan had caused financial loss to the government by running illegal VOIP business for almost five years, while he made at least US$ 200 million. Although there was a case lodged against him for running illegal VOIP business, the government did not press charges against him demanding refund of at least BDT 7-8 billion that telecommunication ministry had lost due to Helal’s illegal VOIP business. In addition to illegal VOIP business, Helal Khan also was running money laundering (hundi) business from both of his offices in Dhaka.
Well organized racket inside Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited [BTCL] is causing revenue loss to the country by keeping Call Detail Recorder [CDR] inoperative on a regular basis, by establishing undue alliance with unscrupulous operators of Voice Over Internet Protocol [VOIP]. A large number of corrupt officials and engineers at BTCL along with some of the top brasses in the Telecommunication Ministry in Bangladesh are reported linked with this racket. It is even alleged that the minister in the same ministry receives a significant portion of the bribe amount received by the racket from the unscrupulous VOIP operators, who actually keeps the matter aloof from the attention of the Prime Minister as well as other policymakers in the government. Seeking anonymity, a number of sources inside BTCL told Weekly Blitz that the Call Detail Recorder [CDR] is kept inoperative almost 18-20 hours every day, as per secret arrangement made between the unscrupulous VOIP operators, where the country is deprived of revenue worth TK. 50-70 million every day, while the racket inside BTCL receives a portion of the stolen amount of money from the licensed thus unscrupulous VOIP operators. It is further learnt that the only source of connecting global telecommunication network is based at Satellite Earth Station located at Mohakhali Earth Satellite Station in Dhaka. From this place, all incoming and outgoing international calls are monitored through Call Detail Recorder (CDR). As the racket keeps the CDR system inoperative on a daily basis, the exact numbers of such calls are never detected by the authorities concerned. The source further said that the CDR is an important tool in generating revenue from the VOIP calls for the country. But there is no real monitoring of the pilferage of the VOIP call data at the Call Detail Recorder (CDR) in Bangladesh.
It may be mentioned here that the government initiated tougher policies in combating corruption and pilferage inside Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited, in order to stop manipulation of the Call Detail Recorder (CDR). Various intelligence agencies, including Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) have been engaged in combating illegal VOIP calls. But, none of the intelligence agencies or RAB has any constant monitoring on the Call Detail Recorder (CDR) system in Bangladesh, which is the key route of pilferage of millions of Taka every day.
At the time, sources in Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited as well as the ministry concerned told Blitz that a general manager of BTCL sent a letter to the managing director of the organization giving information on how the Call Detail Recorder (CDR) system has been kept inoperative by a racket inside BTCL thus causing huge revenue loss to the country.
It may be mentioned here that, following publication of an investigative report in Weekly Blitz in 2006, the first ever illegal VOIP call center in Dhaka was busted by the members of the Rapid Action Battalion. This illegal call center was owned by Helal Khan, a leader of the cultural front of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party. Though a case was later lodged with the Ramna Police Station in this connection, Helal Khan managed to escape legal actions as well as paying due compensation by bribing various influential people as well as by using the influence of the BNP aligned caretaker government of Professor Iajuddin Ahmed.
Following the raids at his Bangla Motor office, Helal Khan fled the country and only returned in 2008 after getting assurance from Brig Gen Chowdhury Fazlul Bari and Brig Gen ATM Amin. But, following Awami League’s landslide victory in the December 2008 general elections, Helal Khan and another Jasas leader Babul Ahmed were assigned by Tarique Rahman to look after anti-Awami League propaganda at home and abroad. Their activities got intensified especially after the 2014 general election. Babul Ahmed had also gone into hiding immediately after military-backed interim government came to power in January 2007 and only returned to Bangladesh after illegally staying in India for months, as the assurance of Brig Gen Chowdhury Fazlul Bari and Helal Khan.
In 2014, Helal Khan was arrested by the Detective Branch of Bangladesh Police for investing BNP’s countrywide anarchism and arson attacks.
While sitting in Dhaka Babul Ahmed is busy in secretly preparing various types of youTube contents targeting the ruling government and front ranking leaders of Awami League, Helal Khan is assigned to maintain liaison with a PR agency in the US as well collect fund for party’s propaganda activities. As per Tarique Rahman’s directives, Babul Ahmed and Helal Khan reportedly are preparing dozens of video propaganda contents, which BNP would start releasing through several YouTube channels from the mid-2022.
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