New faces and hired criminals in the crime scene

Extreme Cyber Zone is an internet connection provider on road number 10 in the city’s Pallabi. A crude bomb was hurled in its office at around 7:30pm on 3 May that critically injured the company’s manager Jishan, 30. Locals caught the attacker named Md Raju, 35, red handed. Later police arrested him. Raju, a rickshaw puller by profession, hurled the cocktail for Tk 5,000. Police later found out that Pallabi area’s top terrorist Moktar Hossain used Raju in hurling the crude bomb at the behest as the internet provider did not pay extortion money.

While investigating this case, police revealed that some top terrors hire such "mercenaries" to attack or intimidate people for collecting tolls. They usually hire rickshaw pullers, street children and floating people. The criminals have thus christened many new faces in the crime world.

Shahidul Islam, Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s (DMP) assistant commissioner of Pallabi division, told Prothom Alo that people sometimes receive calls from unknown numbers identifying themselves as top terrors. They also carry out attacks in certain places. But after arresting the attackers, we usually find the attackers to be common people who were hired as hitmen.

Sources with knowledge of the crime world said the leaders of criminal gangs usually provide money and arms to their associates. If the cronies get arrested, the leaders manage tasks such as recruiting lawyers, running the case and ensuring good accommodation in the prison. They also assist their associates to flee outside the country in cases of major incidents. The gang leaders also try to manage political posts for their associates in local committees of the political parties. Now they have devised a new strategy of hiring outsiders for petty crimes. They take this measure to dodge the law enforcers.  

Criminologists suspect that some of those hired persons might get permanently involved with crimes later on.

It has been learnt that the number of criminals who are not known as top terrors but have created a reign of terror in different parts of the city surpass 30. Most of them are associates of the top terrors. They mostly maintain a bonhomie with local politicians and public representatives.  
Arafat Islam, Rapid Action Battalion’s (RAB) spokesperson and director of legal and media wing, told Prothom Alo that activities of mid-level criminals are sometimes seen in Dhaka city and they were also arrested in drives. “Those who try to commit crimes by hiring low-income people are also under our radar.”

Also Read

Why hired criminals are engaged  

Sources from Law enforcers said the professional criminals started to hire people for petty crimes due to the advent of information technology in criminal investigation to dodge the law enforcers.

Three such attacks were reported in Pallabi alone in the last three months. Law enforcers and local sources said Pallabi’s top terror Moktar, who fled abroad, was behind these attacks. Calling from a foreign number, Moktar demanded extortion from the Extreme Cyber Zone before the attack on 3 May. His main associate in the area is Milon alias Chora Milan from Mirpur-11. Milon hired that rickshaw puller for the cocktail attack. After his name had appeared in the incident, Milon fled. According to the information available to police, Muktar helped Milon flee to India.  

Intelligence sources said Muktar demanded toll from Mojibur Rahman, a local cable TV businessman and Awami League leader of Pallabai thana’s ward number 3, on 2 February this year. As he did not pay the money, three persons on a motorbike shot at his Pallabi residence. As the people rushed in hearing the gunshot, they fled leaving the motorcycle and a pistol.  On 14 May, crude bombs were hurled targeting a shop named New Road King Tyre and Battery at road number six of Mirpur-10. Before the attack, toll was demanded from the shop’s owner Kazi Mohammad Hossain multiple times.

Shahidul Islam, assistant commissioner of Pallabi zone police, told Prothom Alo that sometimes mercenaries and sometimes associates of known criminals carry out these crimes. An associate of Muktar named Hridoy Hossain was arrested after the cocktail attack on 14 May.    

Law enforcers and local sources said the top terrors take all responsibility to look after when their associates are arrested. They even arrange for their associates’ fleeing aboard. For example, a criminal named Badal works for a top terror organization based in Mohammadpur. His involvement was found in various crimes including extortion, land grabbing, mugging and drug trade. As soon as the law enforcers tightened surveillance, Badal fled the country with help of the top terror.  

Former DMP commissioner Nayeem Ahmed told Prothom Alo that the godfathers are the main source of power of the criminals. The top terrors commit crimes under the aegis of these godfathers. He said if any major criminal dies or becomes inactive, another criminal will succeed him soon.

New faces in Badda

In east Dhaka, Motijheel is followed by Badda in terms of criminal activities of top terrors. Law enforcer sources said Amjad Hossain alias Chaku Sohel, Mohiuddin alias Mohi, Jahidul Islam, Abul Bashar alias Badsha and Mohammad Rahim are some of the most heard of criminals involved with various crimes including extortion and mugging in Badda area. Some of them were arrested in some period in the past. They work as associates of top terror Jishan.

Badda zone police’s assistant commissioner Rajon Kumar Saha told Prothom Alo, “Activities of some associates of Jishan came to our notice. In recent times, some of them were arrested with arms and bullets in drives. Other criminals are also under police surveillance.”

Other than Jishan’s associates, two professional criminal gangs named Mehedi group and Robin, Dalim and Mahbub group are active in Badda area. Of them, Mehedi is in the US while Robin, Dalim and Mahbub are staying in Malaysia. Intelligence sources said they are involved with drug dealing, land grabbing and extortion.  

Incarcerated Habibur Rahman alias Taj behind crimes in Mirpur area
Habibur Rahman alias Taj is a top terror group based in Mirpur's Kafrul area. He is accused in nine cases in different police stations including Mirpur, Kafrul and Pallabi. He was sentenced in one of these cases. Habibur had fled to India but was later repatriated. He is now in jail.  

Law enforcers and local sources said Taj controls extortion that takes place in Mirpur-2, Mirpur-6, Mirpur-10 and the extended area of Pallabi sitting inside the prison. He mainly collects toll from cable TV and internet businesses and footpaths. Abul Hossain leads the extortion carried out in the name of Taj who used to be involved with Jubo Dal politics once.

Also Read

Criminals’ effort to sway political control

Investigation reveals that many top terrors try to control the local committees of political parties with a view to strengthen the footholds of their associates.  They try to grab influential posts in associate organisations of the major political parties and deploy their men there.  
A high official of DMP on condition of anonymity told Prothom Alo that the top terrors don’t belong to any political party. They want to establish their political control in order to exert influence on the crime world. They also want to exert their influence in administration too. “I got a lot of political lobbying from Mohammadpur area while working against top terrors several years ago. I was even threatened to be transferred.”

BCL couldn’t announce committee for 18 years due to Shahadat
Top criminal Shahadat Hossain became general secretary of undivided Mirpur thana unit of Bangladesh Chhatra League in 2002. Chhatra League could not form any committee in Mirpur in next 18 years. Several sources of the pro-government student body said it could not form any committee due to Shahadat’s interference. None dared to form the organisation’s committee as Shahdat would threaten the related people whenever any discussion would arise. The BCL could finally announce a Mirpur thana committee in 2020 upon understanding with Shahadat.

An influential BCL leader of that time on condition of anonymity told Prothom Alo that the committee consisting of Shahdat was dissolved in 2004, only to be reinstated within 48 hours. None could dare to announce any committee in the thana in fear of Shahadat.

On Monday afternoon, someone identifying himself as Shahadat made two calls to this correspondent’s number. He claimed to have no link with crimes based in Mirpur in the last 10 years. Regarding interfering in the announcement of the BCL committee, he said, “As I was once involved with Chhatra League, I talked with many juniors. This cannot be a crime.”

Helal calls before announcement of committees

Imamul Hasan alias Picchi Helal tries to interfere with the announcement of the committee of BNP, Jubo Dal and Chhatra Dal in Mohammadpur. Helal was involved with Chhatra Dal politics once.

A former central leader of Chhatra Dal on condition of anonymity told Prothom Alo, “We used to receive calls from Picchi Helal before announcing any committee in Mohammadpur area.”

Intelligence sources said Picchi Helal keeps in touch with several current and former public representatives and leaders of Awami League.

Top terror Mamun holds post in BNP

Top terror Mofizur Rahman (Mamun) is known as ‘Pallabi Dha block’s Mamun’. He is accused in at least 27 cases. Mamun hogged headlines after trying to snatch a criminal by attacking Pallabi police station in 2002.
Police said Mamun was in jail for some days in 2001. He fled to India in 2004. Mamun was arrested for passport fraud and illegal entry into India in 2008 and spent 10 years in Indian prison. After being released, Mamun surreptitiously came back to Bangladesh and again became involved with crime in Mirpur. Police arrested him on 8 February in 2021 in Dhaka, only to be released after a short period. He then fled abroad. This Mamun was made joint convener of BNP’s Pallabi thana’s ward no 91 on 12 February in 2022.

Experts opine that the criminals think of a political identity as a bulwark in case of any trouble.

Tawohidul Haque, Dhaka University’s associate professor of social welfare and research institute, told Prothom Alo, “Our political leaders verbally announce anti-crime stance. But the criminals always had preference in the country’s politics. The top terrors are used in influencing elections and defeating or pressurizing political opponents. This is one leading reason behind the induction of new faces in the crime world.”