Speaking to Prothom Alo, Faridul Alam, the public prosecutor of Cox’s Bazar court and the lawyer representing the state in the case, said, “The 84 accused have gone into hiding knowing that all the 101 accused in this highly discussed case filed under the Arms and Narcotics Act could be awarded with lifetime imprisonment or death sentence."

Those 101 accused in the case were in jail for one and a half years after surrendering on 16 February 2019. They have been appearing in court until 15 November after getting released on bail.

According to the case statement, on the day of surrendering the accused gathered in a hatchery and were preparing to smuggle yaba. After failing to escape from the spot due to the presence of police, they expressed their desire to return to normal life by surrendering with their weapons and the drugs.

Later, at 10.00am that day, some 102 yaba peddlers and their patrons surrendered at the Teknaf Pilot High School with 30 guns, 70 rounds of bullets and 350,000 pieces of yaba in the presence of the home minister and the inspector general of police (IGP).

According to the sources in the court, during the judicial proceedings, an accused named Md Russel died while undergoing treatment on 7 August. Later, the charge sheet was given against 101 accused. On 27 February, the Cox’s Bazar District and Sessions Judge Court judge Mohammad Ismail framed charges against the accused.

However, none of the 84 godfathers of yaba trade could be found despite searching for them at different places in Teknaf on Sunday. Even local UP (union parishad) chairman Ziaur Rahman, one of the accused, was not at his office.

On condition of anonymity, a local UP member said that the chairman had been in hiding since 15 November. The 84 accused, including the four brothers of former MP Abdur Rahman Bodi, went into hiding on that very day.

According to the police and local public representatives, in all the lists of the home ministry and the Department of Narcotics Control, names of Abdur Rahman Bodi, his five brothers and 26 relatives have been mentioned as the ‘patrons’ of drug peddling.

Seeking anonymity, two of the accused in hiding told Prothom Alo, “We surrendered after getting assurance that we will be given a chance to return to a normal life. However, now there is no sign of getting acquitted of the case.”

Meanwhile, Abdul Halim, officer-in-charge (OC) of Teknaf model police station, said, “Drives are on to arrest the accused.”

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Giyas Uddin, president of Cox's Bazar Nagorik Committee, said, “The future of the young generation is at stake due to these drug peddlers. Therefore, none of them should be spared.”

*This report appeared on the print and online versions of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ashish Basu