They were expelled from the party and sent to jail
Hours after their arrest, Jubo League leaders Ismail Hossain Chowdhury Samrat and Enamul Hoque Arman were jailed by a mobile court for six months each on Sunday, for wildlife law violations and drunkenness, respectively.
The duo was then sent to jail, said Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) Executive Magistrate Sarwoer Alam.
Samrat, allegedly a top casino kingpin, was sentenced under the Bangladesh Wildlife Preservation Act after a RAB raid found the hide of two kangaroos at his Kakrail office in Dhaka.
The executive magistrate added that Arman faced imprisonment as he was drunk while being arrested along with Samrat from the Chauddagram upazila of Comilla around 11:30pm on Saturday.
Several hours later, Dhaka South city unit Jubo League President Ismail Chowdhury Samrat and Vice President Aarman were expelled from the ruling party youth wing for breaching party discipline and carrying out unethical practices.
Iqbal Mahmood Bablu, publication secretary of the Central Jubo League, confirmed the matter to Dhaka Tribune on Sunday afternoon.
After being suspected of running illegal casinos, Samrat was issued with a travel ban and had gone into hiding, according to police.
The involvement of Jubo League leaders in overseeing illicit gambling operations came to light after the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) uncovered illegal casino business during raids on the Fakiererpool Young Men's Club, Wanderers Club, and MuktijoddhaKrira Chakra on September 18.
The elite police unit arrested Khalid Mahmud, organising secretary of Jubo League's Dhaka south unit, the same day, before detaining Kalabagan Krira Chakra President and Krishak League leader Shafiqul Alam Firoz.
Two days later, Jubo League leader and businessman GK Shamim was arrested for money laundering, illegal possession of arms, and narcotics.
Samrat, Arman hid at Jamaat leader’s home
Samrat and Arman had gone into hiding in a two-storey home belonging to Monir Chhowdhury in the Kunjashreepur village under Alkora union in the upazila.
Monir is a local Jamaat leader, confirmed our Comilla correspondent Masud Alam, adding that the accused spent three days in the house before being arrested while Monir was present.
Monir’s brother-in-law and Awami League leader Alauddin, who is the Feni municipality mayor, was also present during the raid, said Aalkora Union Parishad Chairman Golam Faruq Helal.
The chairman claimed that Monir was known to be a Jamaat leader in the area.
RAB-11 acting commander Pranab Kumar said they started raiding the area around 7:30pm on Saturday.
“Some 12-14 of our vehicles were engaged in the operation, and we stopped traffic on different roads leading to our targeted spot,” he said on Sunday morning.
Around 9:30pm on Saturday, about 50 RAB personnel surrounded Monir’s house and finally arrested Samrat and Arman, bringing them out of the building nearly one and a half hours after entering.
The RAB officials left the area along with the two around 1am on Sunday.
Monir’s niece Samia Jannat said she had noticed Samrat and Arman staying at her uncle’s home for the last few days.
“Usually, the house remains empty most of the time since my uncle lives in Feni, while my aunt and cousins reside in Dhaka. But the two guests used to remain silent whenever they showed up,” she said.
Monir and Alauddin had frequented the village in the last one week, she added.
Alkora Union Parishad Chairman Helal said they had little idea about Samrat and Arman taking shelter at Monir’s house.
“However, Alauddin was seen visiting Monir’s residence several times in the last two-three days,” he added.
Samrat tried to flee to India
Some villagers said Islamil Hossain Bachchu, the former chairman of the union, is a loyal to Samrat. Bachchu helped Samrat take refuge in Monir’s house.
Since the Kunjashreepur village is close to the Indian border, locals suspect Samrat might have chosen the area with the aim to cross over into the neighbouring country.
What RAB said
In a media briefing at the RAB headquarters on Sunday afternoon, RAB Director General (DG) Benazir Ahmed said it took them longer than usual to locate the actual whereabouts of the casino kingpin.
He said Samrat went into hiding within two days of the illegal casino raids across the country.
The RAB DG said: “Due to the media's constant writing about Samrat, he applied various techniques so that law enforcement agencies could not find him.”
However, DG Benazir did not elaborate on what techniques Samrat had used.
The RAB DG urged the media to be more careful from now on when writing about sensitive matters such as this.
When asked about the actual accusation against the Jubo League leader, the RAB DG replied: “Samrat’s name came up when most of the casinos were raided, and based on that he was arrested.”
His accomplice Arman was also arrested for his alleged involvement in the casino business.
Raids at Samrat's Kakrail office, residences
RAB cordoned off Samrat's Dhaka South Jubo League office in Kakrail around 1:40pm on Sunday and started a raid there in the presence of Samrat, whom they had brought in from Comilla nearly 30 minutes earlier.
RAB Executive Magistrate Sarwoer Alam led the raid and found two kangaroo hides, more than 1,000 yaba pills, some bottles of liquor and a pistol.
RAB Director (Legal and Media Wing) Lt Colonel Sarwar Din Quasem said they also recovered some electric gadgets. The force believes the gadgets may have been used to torture people.
RAB-2 and RAB-3 also raided Samrat's Mohakhali DOHS and Shantinagar residences, respectively.
Nothing illegal was found in his Mohakhali residence, where his second wife Sharmin Chowdhury, her brother and sister-in-law live.
The RAB-3 team managed to recover money in various currencies and credit cards from Samrat’s brother’s Shantinagar residence.
Raid at Arman's apartment
Led by Executive Magistrate Md Ansiur Rahman, RAB-4 raided an apartment allegedly owned by Arman at Mirpur. Some cheque books and documents regarding his wife’s business were found.
RAB-4 second-in-command Major Kazi Saifuddin Ahmed said Arman’s wife lives in the apartment with his children, but the elite force are not sure if Arman actually owns it.
“We raided there to check if there is something illegal. But they [Arman’s wife and children] fled the home before we arrived,” he added.
Gambling was Samrat’s only hobby
During the raid at Samrat’s Mohakhali house, his wife Sharmin Chowdhury told reporters that he always used to lead his life as if he were a Samrat (emperor).
“Gambling was his only hobby. He had no affection for anything else. He used to travel to Singapore only to gamble,” she said.
Sharmin claimed she did not know how Samrat became involved in gambling.
Protests demanding Samrat’s release
Around 300 Jubo League leaders and activists, as well as the supporters of Samrat, staged a demonstration when he was being taken to jail from his Kakrail office.
The incident took place around 7pm in front of the Bhuiyan Mansion in Kakrail.
The protesters chanted slogans demanding his unconditional release and also scuffled with several law enforcement officials.