An Awami League leader in collaboration with his son, who is also a leader of Chhatra League, was operating a kidnaping gang in Harirampur upazila of Manikganj district, according to the law enforcement.
Local AL leaders confirm, Selim Molla, 50, is a vice president of the upazila unit of the party and his son Razibul Hassan aka Rajib, 27, is a general secretary the local unit of BCL, the student wing of the AL.
Members of the gang are activists of the AL's affiliated organisations, particularly BCL and Juba League, the youth front.
The matter came to surface when the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) busted the kidnaping den in Harirampur on Sunday night, detaining 10 members of the gang, including the father and the son.
The eight other ‘kidnappers’ were identified as Md Mosharraf Hossain, 47, religious affairs secretary of the upazila AL unit, and Juba League’s activists, Nirab Ahmed Titu, 29, Md Abdur Razzaq, 35, Md Tareq Hossain, 31, Md Abul Bashar Biswas, 33, Md Ruhul Amin, 35, Md Tareq Hossain Pulak, 26 and Md Tuhin Biswas.
A 25-member team of RAB detained the gang members in a raid at the house of the AL leader, following a bank account number after the gang picked up two traders - Md Zafar Iqbal, 40, Md Miraz Gazi, 35 - from Farmgate area in Dhaka city by a microbus on Friday.
The RAB said the kidnappers collected Tk 285,000 when a sister of Zafar went to pay the money as per demand. Relatives of Miraz also sent money to the bank account of the said AL leader's son. Razibul was detained when he went to pick the money.
The gang used to kidnap people from and around Dhaka city and demanding ransom from the victims’ family, said the RAB.
RAB disclosed the matter at a press conference at its Media Centre in Karwan Bazar on Monday afternoon.
Local political leaders and activists told Prothom Alo that they held a protest rally demanding suspension of the AL and BCL leaders from the party.
Around 9:30pam on Sunday, RAB-2 personnel conducted the raid at the house of the AL leader, located in Jhitka area of the upazila and detained them with the ransom money from different floors of the hosue.
The RAB men rescued Zafar and Miraz from a room of the house.
The RAB men also recovered 6 small arms, nine magazines and 36 rounds of bullets, seven Chinese axes and four machetes.
RAB’s spokesperson Mufti Mahmud Khan told newsmen that Selim Molla’s associates used to live in the his three-storey building. One of its rooms was being used as ‘torture cell’ of the kidnapped people.
As per preliminary investigation, according to the RAB spokesperson, these persons using influence of the ruling party had been carrying out such criminal activities for quite a long time.
Selim Molla has become owner of huge properties in the area, he added.
Zafar and Miraz, the two rescued men, told Prothom Alo that they came to Farmgate on Friday for a business purpose. When they were standing in front of the Science College near the Farmegate intersection, suddenly a micro-bus stopped in front of them and asked about how to go to Dhanmondi area. When they were telling about that, two-three people pushed them to the micro-bus and blindfolded both of them.
After 2-3 hours of traveling, when their eyes were unfolded, they discovered them inside a room, where six-seven others asked them to pay money.
“They caned us mercilessly before we could sense anything else. They stopped beating when we agreed to pay them money,” a victim added.
Locals and more than one AL leaders said Selim Molla was a resident of Kamarghona village. Selim erected the house in Jhitka area four years ago. He is said to be a fourth-grade employee at housing and public works ministry.
Jhitka Ananda Mohan High School committee’s former member Rafikur Rahman Chowdhury alleged that Selim built 300 shops occupying the school’s eight bigha land.
When contacted, AL Harirampur unit president Golam Mohiuddin, who allegedly brought Selim to politics, said Selim would be suspended from the party.