Faridul Alam Farid
Following the arrest of Sohel Rana Biswas, jailor of Chattogram Central Jail with millions of Taka in cash and bank documents proving he has deposited billions of Taka, there is no real interest of the the mainstream media except a few newspapers and television channels in reporting this important issue for reason best known to them. But, according to reports, Sohel Rana Biswas has already divulged crucial information to his interrogators giving a clear picture of the ongoing massive corruption and looting in country’s prison administration.
According to credible sources, most of the top officials of the prison department go into retirement with properties and cash worth billions of Taka. The most lucrative prisons in the country are Dhaka Central Jail in Keraniganj, Chattogram Central Jail, Kashimpur Central Jail [Part-II] and other central jails in Bangladesh. Main income of the prison officials come from Prisoner’s Cash (PC) Canteens, where goods are sold to the prisoners at an exorbitant price. Moreover, snacks and food items produced at the Kashimpur Central Jail [Party-II] are mostly of extremely inferior quality and standard and prison authorities do not feel inclined in getting approval from the Bangladesh Standard and Testing Institution (BSTI) while selling edible items such as breads, buns, biscuits, cakes etc.
Prices of goods in the PC canteens are at least 30-35 percent higher than the maximum retail price, which is a punishable crime. Moreover, although these PC stores are run completely on commercial basis, prison authorities do not pay any VAT to the government against the sales proceeds. For years, PC canteens have become a profit making venture for the prison officials, wherefrom they are making billions of Taka as profit each month.
Seeking anonymity, a prison official told Blitz, those officials who serve at Dhaka Central Jail, Kashimpur Central Jail or other central jails in the country do become billionaires within the span of one year. “They make tons of money and become owners of lands, apartments and industrial projects through this service,” the source said.
Moreover, a large number of prison officials have their own properties and businesses in Malaysia, Canada, Australia and countries in the European Union.
It said, for getting a job as the prison guard, everyone has to pay Taka 1-1.5 million as bribe to the top authorities.
It is a matter of great surprise that such rampant corruption did not yet catch the attention of the Anti Corruption Commission.
Talking to Blitz, a source in the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) said, following the arrest of jailor Sohel Rana Biswas, ACC top brasses have decided to begin investigating the case of Biswas as well as other prison officials who are accused of making billions of Taka through corruption.