Casinos and clubs silent, Samrat under watch

Staff Correspondent . Dhaka | Update:

Ismail Hossain Chowdhury alias Samrat. File PhotoIsmail Hossain Chowdhury alias Samrat, president of Dhaka South Jubo League, is being closely guarded by his loyal followers, all young activists of ruling Awami League. They remain on vigil outside his office in Bhuiyan Mansion opposite Rajmoni Cinema Hall in Kakrail. The number of these young ‘vigilantes’ increases as the night grows deeper.

In the meantime, the clubs in Motijheel have fallen silent. After it was discovered that casinos were being run inside these establishments, the clubs were sealed and have been kept under police watch. Even the clubs which haven’t been raided are silent and empty. All the casinos in the capital city remain closed after the recent raids.

It has been revealed that in Motijheel, the Mohammedan Club, Arambagh Club, Dilkusha Club, Wanderers Club, Victoria Club and Fakirapool Young Men’s Club were running clandestine casinos.

The Young Men’s Club was run by Dhaka South Jubo League organising secretary Khaled Mahmud Bhuiyan. The other five clubs were run by Samrat’s people. Samrat, however, did not run the casinos directly. His casinos were run by Swechhashebok League central president Molla Md Abu Kawsar and ward councillor AKM Momenul Huq alias Sayeed. Abu Kawser and Momenul Huq are now abroad. And Samrat has remained within his office since Wednesday.

Attempts to contact Samrat several times on Saturday failed. A person on his mobile phone said he was resting. The activists in front of the office said no one can enter without permission.

When asked about the government’s stance on Samrat, home minister Asaduzzaman Khan on Saturday said legal measures will be taken against anyone involved in criminal activities.

The drive against casinos was launched on Wednesday, with the authorities cracking down on Motijheel’s Young Men’s Club, Wanderers Club, Muktijoddha Krira Chakra and Banani’s Golden Dhaka Club.

During the raid in Motijheel, the president of Young Man’s Club Khaled Mahmud was arrested from his Gulshan residence in possession of firearms.

Kalabagan Krira Chakra (also known as Kalabagan Club) and Dhanmondi Club were also raided. The president of Kalabagan Club, Shafiqul Alam Firoz, was arrested before the raid. The Dhanmondi Club bar was sealed on Friday.

Several club officials said that Jubo League leaders forcefully took over club premises and set up the casinos with the help of the police. They said that the police would guard the casinos throughout the night.

Speaking on Saturday at a meeting of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police, commissioner Mohd Shafiqul Islam said that the illegal casinos had tarnished the police’s image. They would have to launch a crackdown on the casinos and keep up the drive in order to retrieve their image.

Several sources within the government have told Prothom Alo that the drive against gambling and the casinos will continue.

RAB raided an illegal gambling session in Kawran Bazar’s Pragati Club on Friday, though no arrests were made. Similarly, a raid was conducted on the BG Press Sporting and Recreation Club and the doors were sealed on Saturday.

Inspector general of police Nurul Huda told Prothom Alo, anyone involved in the casino and gambling racket must be investigated. It is the duty of the law enforcement to prevent such criminal activities.

Reputed lawyer Shahdeen Malik, speaking to Prothom Alo, said this is an obvious breach of duty by the police. Such negligence aids in organised crime. The irresponsibility of the police and their involvement in crime has led to a deterioration of law and order in the country. The people are faced with serious security concerns.

*This report, originally appearing in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten here in English by Ayesha Kabir.

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