Anwarul Azim: Elected as MP several times despite scores of allegations

Slain MP Anwarul Azim

Bangladesh Police issued a red notice through the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) in 2007 to arrest Anwarul Azim. The local court also issued an arrest warrant against him. Since he went into hiding, a special tribunal in Chuadanga published a notice in the media asking him to surrender before the court in 2008.

The affidavit Anwarul Azim from Jhenaidah-4 constituency submitted to the election commission before the 7 January parliamentary elections, mentioned that he was accused in 21 lawsuits.

He, however, stated the cases from which he was acquitted and the cases from which he was released during the tenure of the Awami League government.

Following his murder in Kolkata, India, the law enforcement sources from the two countries have been saying that transborder smuggling could be a factor behind his murder.

This has brought some questions to the fore. How could Anwarul Azim be elected an MP thrice especially since there were such grave allegations against him? How could even the Bangladesh Awami League (AL), one of the main political parties of the country, give nomination to such a person?

Political analysts think due to the weakness of the political parties, a person like him gets scope of being elected an MP despite the allegations against him being involved in many criminal activities.

Former election commissioner Brig. Gen. (retd) M Sakhawat Hossain told Prothom Alo that since there was weakness in the political party, nomination was given to a person like Anwarul Azim though he was accused in 21 cases.

There were discussions of Anwarul Azim getting involved in the politics of Awami League too. He joined politics with the help of former BNP leader Abdul Mannan in 1988. When Abdul Mannan joined Awami League in 1995, Anwarul Azim also followed suit.

However, the AL leadership does not take into consideration the questions being raised against the slain MP.

Party sources said Anwarul Azim became a member of AL crossing many hurdles. Once Jhenaidah, Kushtia, Chuadanga, Meherpur, Jashore and a part of Khulna were crime-infested areas. This was controlled when Awami League came to power and Anwarul Azim helped the government in the endeavour. This role also helped him get the party’s ticket for the parliamentary elections.

Anwarul Azim did not get nomination in 2008 as the interpol red notice remained active until 2008 reportedly for his involvement in hundi trading, gold smuggling and various other allegations, said the party leaders.
But his name was dropped from the Interpol list after AL’s coming to power in 2009.

Political parties put forth various reasons for choosing people accused in criminal cases but questions could be raised about the acceptability of the reasons, said the political analysts.

Former election commissioner M Sakhawat Hossain said there are many unclear areas in the electoral act. That is why people like Anwarul Azim are becoming MPs repeatedly.