Former parliamentarian of Awami League Abdur Rahman Badi, widely known as a 'godfather' of yaba trading, will not surrender to the law enforcement. Instead, he will act as ‘coordinator’ of the surrender process for other enlisted yaba traders.
The local police declined to call him a coordinator though. They said Badi has been helping the administration like many others.
Badi himself also denied about working as a ‘coordinator’.
“After the (30 December parliamentary) elections I appealed to them (alleged yaba traders). I said people are dying in broad daylight, women are losing their husbands, children are losing their fathers. How long will you continue like this? Try to surrender. That is all I said, then they contacted (police) on their own accord.”
Abdur Rahman Badi, identified by the home ministry and narcotics control department as a ‘patron’ of yaba trade, claimed he was proved innocent in investigations conducted by the prime minister’s office and the home ministry.
“A syndicate of yaba traders spent a lot of money to include my name in several lists prepared by the administration. I don’t do yaba trading. The criminals will surrender now,” Badi told Prothom Alo at the Teknaf-Myanmar jetty on Monday.
But the relatives of several of those who already have surrendered said they were given to understand that the former parliamentarian of the southern-most constituency of the country would also surrender to police.
But after learning that Badi will not surrender, they are now fearful since they do not know what will happen to the people who would actually surrender.
“We had heard Abdur Rahman Badi would also surrender. This is how it should be,” said a relative of Ziaur Rahman and Abdur Rahman, who are accused in five drug cases.
The relative, wishing not to disclose his name, also questioned the clarity of the process as Badi, being a top ‘patron’ of the trade will not surrender.
Relatives of some of the accused also think it is better to remain in police custody than facing crossfire.
Earlier, police did not arrest Badi though many other listed drug traders were detained. He, however, served in jail for one month in a case filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission for amassing wealth illegally.
The day for surrender of yaba traders is yet to be finalised. But the superintendent of police in Cox’s Bazar Masud Hossain said everything is finalised but the date has been deferred due to police week.
“This could be done on any day in the second week of February,” he said.
Masud expected more than 100 yaba traders would surrender to the law enforcement on the day.
As many as 66 of 73 yaba trading ‘godfathers’ identified by the home ministry live in Teknaf upazila alone.
Local sources said police has already listed 66 of the people intending to surrender to Cox’s Bazar police lines. Five of them are people’s representatives. No one knows where the rest are.
Besides, Abdur Rahman Badi’s three brothers Abdul Amin, Md Shafiq and Md Faisal, who came to Bangladesh from Dubai, three cousins Md Alam, Mong Mong Singh and Quamrul Islam, nephew Shahedur Rahman, brothers-in-law Jamal Hossain, Shahed Kamal and Sabrang union parishad member Moazzem Hossain are also among the 66 yaba traders intended to surrender.
Acknowledging this, Badi said his relatives, listed as yaba traders, have agreed to surrender.
He however declined to say the number of relatives and about their involvement in the trading.
“I told my brothers, sisters and nephews who are allegedly involved in the trading, to surrender. I won’t say anything about their involvement. This has to be proved in the court. I talked to all. They’ll tell the truth if the police grill them,” Badi said.
A few of Badi’s relatives involved in the yaba trade are still outside. It could not be learnt whether they will surrender or not.
Anti-drug campaign and gunfight
The law enforcement began an anti-drug campaign across the country from 4 May 2018. Since then 286 people were killed in alleged gunfights with the law enforcing agencies in 243 days until 21 January this year.
In this context the government has taken the initiative asking the drug traders to surrender.
Recently Prothom Alo talked to relatives of three people who are currently in police custody. One of them, from Puratan Pallanpara in Teknaf, said the surrender process began immediately after Badi’s wife had sworn in as a parliamentarian.
Returning to Teknaf from Dhaka, Badi asked his relatives to surrender within five days as he cannot take responsibility of anyone. Badi told his relatives that he will also surrender. That is why it would be better for everyone to surrender and seek pardon from the government.
Those who went to surrender on 11 January were first taken to the Teknaf unit office of Awami League, then Cox’s Bazar police lines. A vehicle of a private TV channel was also there.
Local people said a journalist of the TV channel is also involved in the process.
Relatives of the surrendered traders said they sent them with the “MP sir” to save them.
The former lawmaker said the incidents of crossfire or gunfight took place to create the environment to surrender. “People are scared and are surrendering; this is very good.”
All the identified yaba traders will surrender, he claimed.
*This report, originally appeared in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Shameem Reza