Vol. 5 Num 953 Sun. February 04, 2007  
Front Page

Big guns stay out of dragnet
Mamun only remarkable arrestee in 41,000 held so far

Most of the listed top criminals, their patrons and the corruptionists still remain out of the dragnet of joint forces although the forces arrested a staggering number of people across the country since the declaration of state of emergency.

A large number of the absconding criminal suspects, their godfathers and corrupt businessmen, who had established a reign of terror, monopolised different business sectors, and misappropriated public property during previous governments' regimes, either went into hiding or fled the country in absence of an anti-crime drive during the 76-day rule of the caretaker government led by President Iajuddin Ahmed.

The joint forces comprising the army, police, and Rab (Rapid Action Battalion) arrested over 41,074 people since the anti-crime crackdown had been launched after the new caretaker government (CG) of Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed had taken over the charge of the country, but they failed to arrest most of the godfathers and high-profile criminals.

Although they succeeded in capturing a number of allegedly corrupt ward commissioners and union parishad chairmen, some local criminal godfathers, some leaders of business syndicates, and several listed criminals, and busted a number of illegal VoIP business dens and fake fertiliser and insecticide factories, they failed to apprehend most of the top offenders.

The only 'big fish' arrested is Giasuddin Al Mamun, BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Tarique Rahman's business partner and a close friend, whose name had kept coming up in connection with illegally monopolising a number of businesses and large scale corruption which allegedly made crores of taka for him.

He had been first detained on the night of January 11 by the joint forces from DOHS area in the capital and released later to be finally arrested again from Nayapaltan last Wednesday.

Dissatisfied with the drive's outcome, the advisory council on law and order, on January 28, instructed the security forces to focus on 'real criminals' and their patrons, asking them to avoid wholesale arrest. It asked the forces to prepare a fresh and accurate list of criminals and arrest accordingly.

The immediate past four-party alliance government successfully politicised the administration, police, and constitutional institutions making way for several of its ministers, members of parliament (MP), local leaders, their relatives and musclemen to earn large sums of money by grabbing public property, and manipulating major business tenders.

They also influenced appointments and transfers in most of the state-owned commercial banks and corporations through their loyal CBA (collective bargaining agent) leaders.

Since the handover of power by BNP-led alliance government, different newspapers ran series of reports exposing alleged corruptions, irregularities and other crimes of former ministers and lawmakers including Mirza Abbas, Nazmul Huda, Nasiruddin Ahmed Pintu, SA Khaleq, Salauddin Qader Chowdhury, Altaf Hossain Choudhury, Giasuddin of Narayanganj, Sarwar Jamal Nizam and Shajahan Chowdhury of Chittagong, Helaluzzaman Talukder Lalu of Bogra, Hafiz Ibrahim of Bhola, Dildar Hossain Selim of Sylhet, Abdul Wadood Bhuiyan of Khagrachhari, Mojibor Rahman Monju of Khishoreganj, Monjurul Ahsan Munshi of Comilla, and Prof Shahidul Islam of Kushtia.

This correspondent compiled the names from investigative reports published in different newspapers including The Daily Star.

Top leaders of banned militant Islamist organisation Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh, Abdur Rahman and Bangla Bhai, admitted before investigators of having links with four-party leaders Barrister Aminul Haque, Ruhul Quddus Talukder Dulu of Natore, Alamgir Kabir, Rajshahi Mayor Mizanur Rahman Minu, Nadim Mostafa and Abu Hena, said sources. None of them has even been interrogated yet.

Hours into the declaration of emergency, security men arrested former AL lawmaker Kamal Majumder in Dhaka. Among other significant arrests were those of Chittagong BNP leader Dastagir Chowdhury, Tangail transport leader Murad Siddiqui, Mirsarai Upazila BNP President Delwar Hossain alias Delu Member, and Habiganj Municipality Chairman and district BNP General Secretary GK Gaus.

As the drive was strengthened, several former lawmakers and leaders of both BNP and AL including Ali Asgar Lobi, Gias Qader Chowdhury, Salman F Rahman, and Tanjim Ahmed Sohel were barred from going abroad.

Although the forces raided several places, they did not find many godfathers and criminals at their houses and offices as they had gone into hiding.

The forces rounded up some relatives and close aides of some former ministers including Ruhul Quddus Talukder and Altaf Hossain Choudhury to extract information about their corruption and links with criminals including militants.

Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) ward commissioners Mirza Khokon, Chowdhury Alam, Monwar Hossain Dipjol and Kazi Abul Bashar, who had allegedly been involved in extortion, land-grabbing and tender scams, could not be arrested despite several attempts.

The security men could so far arrest ward commissioners Sayeed Bepari, M Quaiyum and ABM Enamul Haq in Dhaka. Enamul was freed later.

DCC ward commissioners who are not staying home at night to avert arrest include Chowdhury Alam, Dipjol, Mirza Khokon, Ismail Hossain Benu, Kazi Bashar, M Shaheed, MA Quaiyum, Shamsul Huda, Mozammel Haq Mukta, Mir Ashraf Ali, Badal Sarkar, Motahar Hossain, Khaza Habib Ullah, Abul Khayer Bablu, M Mohon, and Abdur Rouf Nannu, according to sources.

Alleged smuggling syndicate leader of Chittagong, Maruf Nizam, Bogra's Sonatola Upazila BNP President Syed AKM Ahsanul Tayeb Zakir, leader of extortionists in Narayanganj transport sector Mahbub Ullah Tapan, former finance minister Saifur Rahman's son Naser Rahman, Jasas leader Mosharraf Hossain Thakur of Habiganj, former BNP whip Shahidul Haq Jamal's nephew Rezaul Haq Reaz, Jhalakathi BNP leader Ziauddin Mizan, Tanore BNP President Sheesh Mohammad, and Sylhet BNP leader and ward commissioner Ariful Haq Chowdhury are yet to be arrested although there are severe allegations of criminal activities against them.

Most of the CBA leaders of state-owned commercial banks, Desa, Wasa, Titas Gas and T&T in Dhaka and elsewhere, who used to manipulate appointments, transfers, promotions, loans, and interest waivers, and who used to supply manpower for political programmes, went into hiding following the declaration of emergency.

After the joint drive had begun, most of the CBA offices were found locked as the leaders were not going to the offices.

Although the forces arrested Rajuk CBA leaders Kazi Amir Khasru, Abdul Malek and Aurangajeb Nannu, and Nurullah Bahar of Chittagong, most of the corrupt CBA leaders escaped the dragnet.

Besides, AL leaders who are accused of patronising criminals including Shamim Osman, Haji Selim, Abul Hasnat Abdullah, Sheikh Helal and Abu Taher, and expelled Joynal Hazari are also yet to be interrogated.

Talking on the criminals and godfathers roaming free, ASM Shahjahan, former inspector general of police (IGP) and an adviser to the 2001 caretaker government, said caretaker governments of 1991, 1996 and 2001 had taken stringent measures to arrest such elements irrespective of party affiliations, but such attempts were not taken during Prof Iajduddin Ahmed-led caretaker government's 76-day regime.

"Taking the opportunity, many of them went into hiding or left the country," he said welcoming the current drive however belated it might be.

A high ranking police officer, echoing several of his colleagues, expressed frustration for not getting any 'go ahead' from Iajuddin's caretaker government to arrest the criminals and their godfathers. "We saw many criminals and their godfathers, who enjoyed patronisation from the immediate past government, roaming freely in front of our eyes even after handover of power, but we could not arrest them."

Former IGP Muhammad Nurul Huda said, "Although Prof Iajuddin Ahmed's caretaker government was preoccupied with political demonstrations, it should have started a crackdown on criminals and their godfathers."

Saying that the anti-crime drive was 'strengthened' after the declaration of emergency, Rab Director General SM Mizanur Rahman added, "It's true that many of them went into hiding, but law enforcers will track them down."

After taking over the charge on Tuesday, new IGP Noor Mohammad expressed his firm determination to arrest militants' patrons, top criminals, and their godfathers. "Capturing only petty criminals will fail to curb terrorism. They will automatically be controlled if the big fish are captured," he said.