Is Nabi Hossain main perpetrator behind violence at Rohingya camp?

A poster announces Tk 1 million bounty for providing information about Nabi Hossain
Prothom Alo

The incidents of crime and violence are on the rise at Rohingya camp in Ukhia, Cox’s Bazar, including frequent gunfight, chopping people after picking them up from their camp residences.

Several armed groups from Myanmar are also getting involved in clash after sneaking inside the camps. The latest addition is arson attack at the camps as an act of sabotage.

The general Rohingya people and the law enforcement agency members identified one person as chief perpetrator of all such crimes at the camp. He is Nabi Hossain, 48.

Nabi Hossain is behind the large consignments of yaba pills and crystal meth that are being smuggled into Bangladesh through Ukhia and Teknaf, said Rohingya leaders and law enforcement members. Yaba pills and crystal meth of around Tk 5-6 billion have been entering the Rohingya camps every month.

Ninety per cent of that smuggling is controlled by Nabi Hossain. He gets assistance of nine armed Rohingya groups and Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO), another armed group from Myanmar, who get share of profit in return.

Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), police, APBn and other law enforcement agencies conducted at least 50 raids in the last five years but could arrest Nabi Hossain and one of his main cohorts, Abdul Hakim. However, at least 14 of his gang members died in several gunfights with the law enforcement. In March last year, Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) announced a Tk 1 million bounty for helping arrest Nabi Hossain dead or alive.

Speaking to Prothom Alo on Monday, several Rohingya leaders and law enforcement agency members at a Balukhali Rohingya camp in Ukhia said there were gunfights between Nabi Hossain’s gang and Arakan Salvation Army, an armed group from Myanmar, over sharing drug money and establishing supremacy at the camps for four to five months. Rohingya Solidarity Organisation has actively taken the side of Nabi Hossain’s gang to stop ARSA.

A dispute between Nabi Hossain and ARSA appeared when the later shot to death Rohingya leader Muhib Ullah on 29 September 2019. At that time Nabi Hossain joined hands with RSO to stop ARSA.

Who’s Nabi Hossain?

Over 800,000 Rohingya from Rakhine state of Myanmar took shelter in Bangladesh following a crackdown by Myanmar army on 25 August 2017. Nabi Hossain from Dhekubania in Maungdaw of Rakhine state was also among the displaced Rohingyas. He took shelter at shed No 41 of camp-8 west, block-B, in Balukhali, Ukhia. He started smuggling in large consignments of yaba in the camps and Teknaf town from Myanmar from the beginning of 2018. That time he formed a friendship with a politician in Teknaf. He also formed the ‘Nabi Hossain gang’ at the camp. The member of the gang is over 300.

According to police and Rohingya leaders, Nabi Hossain’s brothers – Bhulu and Mohammad Kamal – were the leaders of camp-8’s block-D and block-B respectively. They went into hiding as ARSA threatened them. Nabi Hossain’s gang controls four camps in Balukhali – camp-8 west, camp-9, 10 and 14. The nine armed Rohingya gangs that assist Nabi Hossain are gangs of Master Munna, Islam, Abdul Hakim, Asad, Jubair, Jabu, Mumin, Zakir and Shafiullah.

Tk 1 million bounty couldn’t work

In March 2022, BGB-34 battalion pasted posters in Rohingya camps and in Ukhia and Teknaf announcing Tk 1 million bounty for helping arrest Nabi Hossain dead or alive. The poster is still found to be shared in social media but none could provide any specific information about Nabi Hossain.

Armed Police Battalion-8 is in charge of ensuring security at the camp. Faruq Ahmed, APBn-8’s assistant superintendent of police (media and operations), said Nabi Hossain is not in the camp. He has been controlling drug smuggling staying close to Myanmar. Several members of his gang have already been arrested, he added.

Police said Mohammad Nabi, 40, a member of Nabi Hossain gang sustained bullet injuries in an attack of ARSA terrorists at Balukhali camp (camp-8 west) on 6 January. APBn members recovered a sophisticated grenade from injured Mohammad Nabi’s room that afternoon. Later, a case was filed against 34, including Nabi Hossain, at Ukhia police station on 8 January in this connection. ARSA’s chief commander Ataullah Abu Ammar Jununi was also made an accused in the case.

Speaking about this, Ukhia police station officer-in-charge Sheikh Mohammad Ali said at least 23 Rohingya were killed at Ukhia camp in the last four and half months. Of the incidents, Nabi Hossain made accused in three murder cases while Ataullah Abu Ammar Jununi was made accused in four cases. Despite trying in different ways police could not arrest the two so far.

Mijjir Pahar is the hideout

Nabi Hossain sometimes holds meetings with his gang members sneaking inside the Rohingya camps and pass nights at a hideout in Mijjir Pahar (hill), Teknaf, said the Rohingya leaders. The gang has AK-22 rifle and other sophisticated arms and ammunitions. Of the nine gangs, Abdul Hakim gang provides most assistance to Nabi Hossain gang. Abdul Hakim is accused in 21 cases, including murder, rape, arms and drugs trading, filed with Teknaf police station.

Hakim gang attacked an Ansar camp at Shalban Rohingya camp in Teknaf on 13 May, 2016, police said. They shot to death Ansar commander Ali Hossain and looted 11 rifles.

* The report has been rewritten in English by Shameem Reza