Law enforcing agencies in Bangladesh have started a massive crackdown on illegal casinos and bars in Dhaka city as well as other cities and towns in the country. Although authorities are targeting around 60 illegal casinos, according to sources, the number is much larger.
On Wednesday, members of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) arrested organizing secretary of ruling party’s youth front, Khalid Mahmud Bhuiyan from his Gulshan residence on the allegation of running a casino at a soccer club in the city. RAB also seized three firearms, bullets, and yaba pills in his possession.
“One of the firearms was illegal while two others were seized for breaching the conditions of the license for the firearms,” RAB said.
Executive Magistrate Sarwoer Alam in a press briefing after the raid at the club said Khalid ran the well-decorated “casino”. Out of the 142 people arrested there, 31 people, including 16, were sentenced to one year in jail and the rest to six months’ imprisonment.
Many of them were arrested drunk, he said.
Rab officials said every day billions of takas used to be gambled in the “casino” that remained open 24/7.
Sarwoer said Youngmen’s Club was a football club but a portion of the floor space was used for running the “casino”.
The club had a Nepalese manager but “we could not detain him”, he said.
On the same day, RAB raided at least five clubs in the city and detained and sentenced 182 people in connection with running casinos, gambling, and dealing in drugs and sealed off at least two other clubs, where illegal casinos were also being operated.
The mobile court also raided the Golden Dhaka Bangladesh located in Ahmed Tower in Banani and Wanderers Club in Motijheel area.
It sealed off Golden Dhaka Bangladesh finding no one there, RAB said.
A huge quantity of gambling materials, drugs, and counterfeit currencies was seized at Wanderers Club, which was also sealed off.
RAB officials said that they learnt that two leaders of two ruling party-affiliated organizations ran the “casino” in Wanderers Club.
Jubo League is the youth wing of ruling Awami League and the drives came after AL President Sheikh Hasina expressed annoyance on Saturday over allegations that some Jubo League leaders were involved in various crimes, including extortion and running “casinos”.
Jubo League president reacts
Meanwhile, Jubo League Chairman Omar Faroque Chowdhury during a meeting at Darussalam in the capital Wednesday afternoon said, “You [law enforcers] are saying there are 60 casinos in Dhaka. What were you doing all this time? If that is true, the policemen of the police stations and the RAB personnel of the RAB units concerned should be arrested.
“I’ve never seen a casino… I’d love to see one. If you want to arrest me then arrest me … But you [law enforcers] have given tacit approval to these casinos”.
He said the law enforcement should be questioned why they did not take any action in this regard before.
“If the intelligence branches and media knew about the casinos all along, why wasn’t this information made public earlier?” he asked.
Samrat takes shelter inside the party office
Following the arrest of Khalid Mahmud Bhuiyan, another controversial leader of Jubo League, Ismail Chowdhury Samrat took shelter inside the office of the youth front along with his followers and continued chanting slogans. Meanwhile some people have started posting offensives status in their social media accounts condemning the law enforcing agencies for “spreading false rumor” centering Samrat and other members of Jubo League.