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     Volume 8 Issue 76 | July 3, 2009 |

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The Business of Crime

Elita Karim
Stains of blood in the office of DIT Traders Association where the attack was made. Photo: STAR FILE

As the janazah prayers of the businessmen were held last week at the Karwan Bazar mosque, everyone in the area seemed to be in a state of mourning. The forlorn expressions of many who attended, however, revealed much more than mere grief; they were clearly shaken up and living in fear. Even today, those who work and live in Karwan Bazar feel unsafe simply walking to the nearby kitchen market, quite possibly expecting random people on the street to bring out weapons and start shooting each other. After all, there were three brutal murders, which took place in the area last week, in broad daylight.

Three people were shot at, in Karwan Bazar last week, by six unidentified men. They were 55-year-old M Faruque Mollah, 53-year-old Ashraf Miah and 35-year-old Nuruddin Sarkar Jewel. Faruque was the president of the Karwan Bazar Fruit Traders Association and also the general secretary of the Tejgaon unit of the Jatiya Party. Ashraf was the former vice-president of the DIT Market Traders Association and senior vice-president of ward-39 AL. Jewel was Faruque's bodyguard. Faruque, Ashraf and Abdur Rahim (wounded at the shoot-out), along with other local businesspeople incidentally have been campaigning against extortion and other crimes in the area. The attack, clearly, was carried out in reprisal for efforts to stop extortion in the capital's premier kitchen market.

Many probably thought that Home Minister Sahara Khatun was sharing an inside joke with the general public, when she claimed that law and order has improved despite some stray incidents of violence. This announcement was made a day after the Kawran Bazar incident, confusing a lot of people, especially the families of the victims. Was the Home Minister referring to the murders in question as one of the everyday stray incidents?

The way the murders were carried out, indicate that the murderers had powerful backing. The six youths who gunned down the victims were not masked and had been quite confident when they stormed into the office in broad daylight to murder the businessmen. Obviously, they were not perturbed or the least bit anxious of being caught. As the law enforcers exhaust their available resources to solve the case, the young murderers along with the mastermind/s of this crime are probably preparing for their next attack.

Home Minister Sahara Khatun

It is not just this particular incident that has shocked the city dwellers. Crimes of such stature take place everyday, in and outside Dhaka city. A few weeks ago in Mohammadpur, a resident was attacked with a 'Chapati' (meat chopper) by young goons, who left the victim unconscious and bleeding profusely, after taking away his valuables. This incident never made to the papers, simply because it was probably an everyday incident which people are used to by now. Commuters have it the worst, when they are attacked by the infamous 'molom parties' on their way home from work while using public transportation.

The Karwan Bazar incident also brings forth one of the age-old crimes of extortion. Karwan Bazar being the largest kitchen market in the city, a galore of extortionists roam the area quite openly. What is stopping the law enforcers and the government to track down these infamous extortionists who are forever feared by the local trades-people?

The Home Minister also announced the soon to be formed additional force-- Industrial Police to ensure proper security of the readymade garment industry. Right now, innocent people on the streets, who are much more prone to street crimes, are in a state of distress and would appreciate any sort of help rendered by the government. They have reached a point where they are probably wishing for super heroes to emerge from nowhere to rescue them. Along with the Industrial Police, the government should also think about forming special undercover forces to stop street violence and crimes of all sorts.

Despite the encouraging words that the government keeps issuing, people do not feel safe, not only out in the streets, but also in their own homes and office rooms. The Kawran Bazar murder incident was a slap on the face of those very few individuals, who wanted to do the right thing--taking action against extortionists. Just like Kawran Bazar, there are thousands of other areas in the country, which witness a series of such crimes underneath their calm and busy exteriors. It is high time that the government, for once, give the people a pleasant surprise and dig out the little dens and the criminals who run their 'businesses' from these areas, before the general public decides to go berserk and take law into their hands to save their cities from hooligans. After all, it is only after a complete chaos is created by the mob that the authority takes notice of any situation gone out of control.

Family members and friends of the deceased weep at Dhaka Medical College Hospital. Photo: STAR FILE Karwan Bazar being the largest kitchen market in the city, a galore of extortionists roam the area quite openly .Photo: Anisur Rahman




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