520 drug traders including public reps, politicians in Dhaka’s outskirts

Photo shows consignments of narcotics seized from Malibagh, Dhaka.
Prothom Alo file photo

Narayanganj has become the transit point for narcotics in Dhaka and various places of the country. A large number of leaders and activists of various political parties including Awami League, and local representatives from Narayanganj are also involved in the drug trade. Some of them have even built houses and bought cars from drug money. Police said more than 500 people are involved in narcotics in this town on the outskirts of the capital.

Concerned people point out that the Dhaka-Chattogram and Dhaka-Sylhet highways cross through Narayanganj. Besides there is water connectivity from Narayanganj to Dhaka and its adjoining districts. As a result, drug dealers chose Narayanganj as a transit point to peddle narcotics, which are smuggled through two bordering districts of Cumilla and Brahmanbaria, to various places of the country. Consignments of yaba tablets that come via Myanmar are also entering this district.

Police prepared a list of people involved in narcotics trade in Narayanganj at the end of last year. According to the list, 520 people are involved in narcotics trade in seven thanas (police station area) of the district. The highest number of drug dealers, 176, are from Sadar thana, 109 from Fatullah, 99 from Siddhirganj, 60 from Bandar, 38 from Rupganj, 21 from Araihazar, and 17 from Sonagaon thana.

Several people named in police list have political identities, but this was not mentioned in the list. Prothom Alo investigations also found there are certain people who are involved in narcotics trade were not names on the police list.

Prothom Alo investigated 100 drug traders named on the police list and found the political identity of 10 of them. They are local representative or hold post in Awami League, Jubo League, Chhatra League, Jubo Dal and Jatiya Party. The remaining ones are involved in selling, smuggling and peddling of narcotics.

However, the specific number of drug addicts in Narayanganj couldn’t be learned. According to Department of Narcotics Control sources, there are seven drug rehabilitation centres in Narayanganj and 70 patients on an average are admitted to these centres in a month. However, most of drug addicts don’t come to the rehabilitation centre.

There are 35 large spots for drug sale in this district and Chanpara of Rupganj is the biggest spot, according to the Department of Narcotics Control.

Local public representatives, political leaders

Mir Hossian, who is the general secretary of Swechchhashebak League’s Kutubpur unit, tops the police’s list of narcotic traders from Fatulllah thana. According to the police list, Mir Hossain faces nine cases under various laws including the Narcotic Control Act.

According to local sources, Mir Hossain has not been arrested because he has long been holding a party post. He maintains own cadre force to control drug business. He was injured severely when rivals opened fire on him and he has been using a wheelchair since then. Speaking to Prothom Alo, Mir Hossain claimed his rivals included his name on the list of narcotic traders as a port of a conspiracy against him.

Police list said Md Sohel, who is a member of Brahammandi union parishad in Araihazar upazila, faces three narcotic cases. Sohel told Prothom Alo, “Once my brother-in-law and I were involved in the narcotic trade and I quit it before and last election and became a public representative.”

Bazlur Rahman controlled the narcotic trade in Chanpara in Rupganj upazila. He was a member of Kayetpara union parishad in Rupganj upazila and an executive member of the upazila Awani League unit. Rapid Action Battalion arrested him on 18 November 2021. He faced at least 23 lawsuits including murder and narcotics. He died at Dhaka Medical College Hospital on 31 March this year while undergoing treatment. However, police did not name him on their list.

The former general secretary of Swechchhashebak League’s Narayanganj city unit, Shakhawat Islam is known as a drug dealer. He, too, was not named on the police list. Locals said Shakhawat Islam faced several cases and was arrested in possession of narcotics. Shakhawat Islam claimed, “In 2014, police recovered drugs from a transport businessman who was known to me and I went to the police station for his sake. There I got into an altercation with a police officer and he implicated me in a narcotic case later.”

Prothom Alo investigation also found 15 more drug traders holding political posts in various political parties. Some of them have been named on the police list and some not. Besides, a large number of people named in the police list are involved in peddling drugs. Among the people named on the police list, one was killed in a ‘gunfight’, another died of illness and another went abroad four years ago.

Drug trader not on police list

Jahangir Alam is a known drug trader in Siddhirganj area. His wife Farida Akter is his leading associate. The couple faces more than a dozen lawsuits. Both of them were arrested several times. Jahangir Alam owns houses and cars, bought with drug money. However, he has not been named on the police’s list of drug traders.

According to the Department of Narcotics Control sources, Jahangir Alam owns a two-storey and a five-storey house in Siddhirganj’s Mijmiji area. He supplies yaba to Dhaka and Narayanganj from here. Locals think his name did not come up in the list due to his good relations with the police.

Drug patrons are out of reach

Sources concerned said the masterminds of drug dealings remain out of reach because of weakness in investigation of the cases. In most cases, charges were pressed against the people who were detained in possession of narcotics, but most of the investigations do not reveal the sources, destination, and masterminds of the drug trade .

Fifteen people, who keep an eye on narcotic trade and crime world in seven police stations of Narayanganj, spoke to Prothom Alo on condition of anonymity. Having seen the police list, they said the name of the people patronizing and sheltering drug dealings were not there.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Golam Mostafa Russel, superintendent of police in Narayanganj, said, “Many large consignments of narcotics were seized in the district. We found after investigation that Dhaka and its adjoining districts were the destinations of some of drug consignments.”

Currently, narcotic trade is operated in cut out method, and that is why investigation cannot go further after catching the drug peddler, he added.

However, a senior official of the district police told Prothom Alo on condition of anonymity, “It has not been possible for police to perform duty impartially due to the political culture in our country, and that is why political affiliation of many persons involved in narcotic trade was not mentioned. Names of many patrons did not come up too, and that is a structural weakness of police.”

Narcotic trade doesn’t stop because of weakness of police, observed Rafiur Rabbi, a cultural personality and senior vice president of Narayanganj Nagorik Committee. He told Prothom Alo people of the ruling party control narcotics and, in some cases, extortion too, over here. This would not be possible if the police were sincere about halting narcotics trade.

Masterminds remain out of reach despite narcotics being seized. Again, if the criminals are caught, cases are filed under laws where they get bail easily. As a result, narcotic trade doesn’t stop, Rafiur Rabbi said.

Mujibul Haque, Staff Correspondent, Narayanganj, and Golam Rabbani, Correspondent, Narayanganj contributed to this report.

This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Hasanul Banna