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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Gambling robs poor people of hard earned money

Update : 17 Apr 2013, 11:33 AM

Grameen Mela, a rural carnival, and Jatrapala, atraditional Bangla stage drama, constitute the very fabric of Bangalee culture. Before satellite television came along, they were the only sources of entertainment for people living in the rural areas of Bangladesh. The carnivals were major boosts for the rural economy. Accomplished jatra actors often moved on to the national stage and became renowned artists.

Late Amal Bose, a gifted jatra actor from the Faridpur district, became a very famous cinema actor.

But those days are now over. Grameen Mela and Jatrapala have now become sources of large amounts of illegal money for vested groups of locals who manipulate the law and administration to stage socially questionable activities under the cover of these innocent looking functions.

In the northern district of Sirajganj, unscrupulous businessmen are making huge sums of money by staging obscene dances, gambling and raffle draws in the name of Mela and Jatrapala under the administration’s nose.

The obscene dance, often accompanied by abundant drugs, mostly attracts the local youth who bunk school and college to attend them, locals said.

Attractive publicity stunts in the form of colourful posters and the use of loudspeakers attract the low-income people to the gambling dens set up under the cover of carnivals. Many poor people who come to make some quick money leave the dens without a penny of their hard-earned incomes left in their pockets. In the process, the organisers often make hundreds of thousands in one night, locals said.

Sources said that some influential local leaders of the ruling party in collaboration with a handful of dishonest government and police officials keep organising such functions throughout the year at different locations in the district.

Locals said that in the Soydabad village of Siranjganj district headquarters, the illegal activities are conducted by a local Upazila Parishad member. In the neighbouring Chowhali village, a local influential man named Abu Sayed runs the illegal businesses; that too just 400 meters away from the local police station.

“People these days do not like Jatrapala without dance shows. Besides, it is very hard to make a profit without arranging gambling or raffle draws,” said Mozibar Rahman, organiser of the Soydabad carnival.

Some other organisers said they usually paid good money to the police, the administration and the political leaders to ensure that nobody creates problems.

Omar Farukh, officer-in-charge of the Chowhali Police Station, said that most often they could not do anything about it because the organisers were backed up by powerful local political leaders.

The district administration generally does not permit gambling and obscene dances because they are illegal.

Sources said Sirajganj district deputy commissioner’s office assistant Rafiqul Islam, in exchange for money, arranges written permissions signed by the DC despite knowing that such illegal activities were going on.

Sirajganj DC Aminul Islam ignored attempts to contact him. Sirajganj police super Md Humayun Kabeer could not be reached either.

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