Vol. 4 Num 218 Mon. January 05, 2004  
Star City

Where gangsters rule the lane

Local gangsters with the connivance of police have been pocketing money for the past few years from 'renting out' fringes of Gulshan-Gutharaghat Link Road to kitchen market traders.

More than 200 shops sit on the two sides of the road linking Madhya Badda to Gulshan-1 across the Gulshan Lake.

Over the past three to four weeks, there has been frenzied mushrooming of illegal structures to house groceries, restaurants, hairdressers and footwear and clothes stores in addition to the shops in the kitchen market.

The traders linked two ruling BNP activists -- 'Indian Babu' and Tito -- to the toll-taking gang as its lynchpins.

They also accused police of sending undercover agents to collect the money after dusk.

"We leased space from "Indian Babu" and Tito on a daily rental of Tk 30 a retailer," a trader said replying to whether they have permission to run business on the road.

"I pay Indian Babu Tk 210 a week for my shop and police Tk 20 a day," said an elderly grocer.

A greengrocer, Swapan, says he pays Tk 60 to Tito a day.

The Estate Department of Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) says it does not approve roadside trading and the DCC carries out routine demolition drives to clear illegal structures off the roads owned by it.

"As Rajuk has not handed over the part of the link road to the DCC, it is beyond our jurisdiction," a DCC official said, asking not to be named.

Rajuk Chairman Iqbal Uddin Chowdhury said the structures were illegal, adding: "We will demolish these illegal structures by January-end."

Badda Police Station Sub-Inspector Delwar Hossain denied the allegation of taking bribes from Gutharaghat kitchen market.

"Some influential people in the locality are involved in such illegal activities," Delwar said.

Duty Officer SI Badiuzzaman of Gulshan Police Station said he was unaware of such illegal deals and illegal structures on the link road.

Gulshan Police Station Officer-in-Charge Iftekhar Hossain could not be reached for comment despite repeated attempts.

Gangsters 'rent out' shops while 'agents' of police collect the money after dusk on the two sides of this road. PHOTO: Syed Zakir Hossain