Yaba lords prefer police protection as ‘crossfire’ deaths continue
The government has planned to offer illegal yaba traders an opportunity to surrender.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told the Dhaka Tribune on Thursday that the formalities of surrender can be completed by mid-February.
“Many yaba smugglers and traders are gathering there [in Cox’s Bazar]. However, we have yet to finalize the date,” the minister added.
The development comes at a time when a government-launched “war on drugs” is running for eighth consecutive month with several hundred alleged drug peddlers killed in “crossfires” with law enforcement officials since May 2018 – when the drive was ensued.
Three people were killed on Thursday alone in crossfires, and two of them were said to be illegal drug traders.
The surrender move, though not officially announced yet, comes at a time when some known and listed drug kingpins still remain out of the drug war dragnet and have started gathering in Cox's Bazar city for surrender.
Police and local sources in Cox’s Bazar and Teknaf areas said over 60 yaba smugglers and traders including three brothers of former lawmaker Abdur Rahman Badi - whose name also surfaced in some lists of yaba patrons – are now staying at a police “safe home” in preparation to surrender in Cox’s Bazar.
Among the ones now under police protection, some 20 are said to be listed drug smugglers and traders. They all have been on the run since the anti-narcotics drive began in May last year, they said.
Almost every day, suspected drug smugglers and traders are being killed or sustaining bullet injuries in gunfights with the law enforcement agencies after the start of the anti-drug drive.
According to Ain O Salish Kendra’s (ASK) reckoning, a total of 466 people were killed in countrywide anti-drug raids conducted by law enforcement agencies between May 4 and December 31 last year.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has instructed to continue with the campaign against drugs. In a meeting with the officials at the Ministry of Home Affairs on Sunday, she said if anyone wanted to return to a normal life, that opportunity has to be provided.
Sources said 73 influential yaba kingpins have been identified in the list of 1,151 people listed as yaba traders by the Detective Branch in Cox's Bazar district. These include 34 present and former public representatives, including former lawmaker Abdur Rahman Badi, his six siblings and 20 other relatives.
Sources said though Badi is roaming free, three of his brothers have gone under the police’s safe home protection. They are Abdul Amin, Md Shafiq and Faisal Rahman. They recently returned home from Dubai to surrender. One of Badi's nephews, Shahedur Rahman Nipu, maternal cousin MM Sen, Kamrul Hasan, in-law Shahed Kamal, Ibrahim Khalil, andmanager of his brother Abdus Shukkur also took shelter in the “safe home” for surrender.
Some 60 people, including Nurul Huda, who locally known as Yaba Don, Enam member, Ekram Huda, Badiur Rahman, Maulvi Noor Mohammad, Mohammad Danu Member and Teknaf Upazila Parishad Chairman Zafar Ahmed’s son Mohammad Dider have already taken preparation for surrender, sources said.
Some source of police said Saiful Karim, who goes by the “Yaba Godfather” name tag, Moulvi Mujibur Rahman, Shahjahan and Mohammad Amin are also preparing for surrender. These Home Ministry-listed yaba dealers have already reached home from Dubai and Abu Dhabi and are preparing at the moment to surrender.
When contacted, Cox’s Bazar Superintendent of Police ABM Masud Hossain acknowledged that many drug traders and smugglers were contacting police, asking for surrender opportunity.
“We conveyed this to the higher authorities, and they agreed to offer them the opportunity of surrender under some conditions,” he said without elaborating on what the conditions are.
Sources in Cox’s Bazar police said some 150 yaba kingpins may take part in the surrender ceremony; of them, seven are connected with or relatives of Badi. Though the former MP is also on the list of top yaba traders, he will not surrender. His wife Shaheen Akhter, now a lawmaker, will be present at the ceremony as a special guest.
Two-time elected MP Badi did not get nomination in the recently held 11th parliamentary elections, allegedly for his yaba-tainted past, but the party that he belongs to – the Awami League – gave the nomination to his wife.
After being rejected of the party nomination for the elections, Badi started campaigning against the yaba menace.