Vijaya Laxmi Tripura
Within hours of being arrested from the house of a Jamaat-e-Islami leader in Cumilla, infamous godfather of illegal casino business, extortion, tender manipulation, dealing in drugs and numerous forms of illegal activities, Ismail Chowdhury Samrat and one of his top accomplices – Enamul Hoque Arman – both expelled leaders of Jubo League, the youth front of the ruling party, were convicted by a mobile court of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) with six month’s simple imprisonment for violation of wildlife protection law and drunkenness.
Following the arrest of Samrat, several international media, including the Arab News have termed Samrat as a “top politician” of the ruling party. In the report titled ‘Top Bangladesh politician snared in anti-corruption crackdown’, the newspaper said, “A prominent Bangladesh ruling party politician with alleged links to the capital’s underworld was arrested on Sunday in a sweeping anti-graft drive championed by the prime minister, amid corruption accusations against her government.
“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina last month launched the crackdown, saying it was necessary to prevent a repeat of the January 2007 coup by the powerful military, which said tackling corruption was one of its key goals.
The high-profile head of the Dhaka youth wing of Hasina’s Awami League party, Ismail Hossain Samrat, was arrested with one of his associates, Bangladesh’s elite security force said.
“Samrat was arrested over concrete charges,” the Rapid Action Battalion spokesman Mizanur Rahman Bhuiyan said but did not reveal what he was accused of.
“He has been linked with operating casinos in sports clubs in Dhaka,” a senior RAB officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Local media allege Samrat is an underworld kingpin who uses his political influence to run a network of illegal casinos and extortion rackets.
He is the most senior politician to be caught in the new graft dragnet, which has also nabbed 260 others — including at least three ruling party officials.
As part of the drive, security forces have also sealed off nearly a dozen illegal casinos in the capital.
“Gambling is illegal in the conservative Muslim majority country, but gangsters are accused of introducing casino equipment such as gaming tables in some well-known sports clubs.
“Immediately after his arrest, the youth wing of the ruling party expelled him for anti-social activities and breaching party discipline.
The government banned him from travel last month”.
Samrat’s boss Omar Faruque Chowdhury under the radar
Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit has received information on all the accounts of Jubo League Chairman Mohammad Omar Faruque Chowdhury from banks and non-bank financial institutions.
The financial intelligence agency made the move as part of the government’s ongoing crackdown on casinos, gambling, and corruption.
The BFIU and the National Board of Revenue recently froze several bank accounts and sought information on the accounts of more than a dozen Jubo League leaders and some influential persons over alleged links with illegal casinos and gambling.
At the instruction of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the law enforcement agencies have been carrying out drives against casinos, gambling, extortion, tender manipulation, dealing in drugs and corruption since September 18.
Immediately after the crackdown on casinos, gambling, extortion, tender manipulation, dealing in drugs and corruption began on September 18, Omar Faruque Chowdhury has a statement accusing the law enforcing agencies as the main culprits behind such activities and strongly defended terror godfather Ismail Chowdhury Samrat. According to analysts, Chowdhury’s statement has directly gone against the Prime Minister’s noble initiatives.
Seeking anonymity, a source told this correspondent that, the Prime Minister has instructed the law enforcing and intelligence agencies to show zero tolerance towards casinos, gambling, extortion, tender manipulation, dealing in drugs and corruption without considering any political affiliation of the culprits.
It said, if evidence regarding connections between Omar Faruque Chowdhury and those corrupt and criminal elements are found, he too may face the music.