• Tuesday, Jan 19, 2021
  • Last Update : 05:27 am

Yaba dealers to surrender in Cox’s Bazar: Locals sceptical of long term impact

  • Published at 01:27 am February 15th, 2019
Yaba
File photo of Yaba pills Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

According to local police sources, the yaba dealers, including a number of kingpins, will surrender in the presence of Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal and Inspector General of Police (IGP) Javed Patwari at Teknaf Pilot High School on Saturday morning.

Although police authorities have completed necessary preparations to hold the surrender of over a hundred yaba dealers in the Teknaf upazila of Cox’s Bazar, locals have expressed skepticism over the long term impact of the initiative.

According to local police sources, the yaba dealers, including a number of kingpins, will surrender in the presence of Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal and Inspector General of Police (IGP) Javed Patwari at Teknaf Pilot High School on Saturday morning. 

The IGP reached Cox’s Bazar for a three-day visit on Thursday afternoon.

What do locals say?

Locals, human right activists, and criminologists claim the yaba dealers are surrendering out of fear for their lives, after the deaths of a significant number of drug peddlers in nationwide anti-drug drives.

Having been driven to surrender out of fear, the dealers may return to their illegal profession if they find the consequences for their crimes are not severe, they added, stressing the need for coordination between law enforcement agencies and locals to prevent such occurrences.

Abdur Rahim, a madrassa student in Teknaf, said: “These dealers are surrendering to save their lives. If they survive without facing much trouble, they may return to the criminal business.”

He added that younger and lower-profile drug dealers may grow more reckless if they see that it is possible to surrender without facing significant penalties.

Zahidul Alam, a sixty-year-old shopkeeper who lives near the Kutupalong Bazar, said he had heard on the news that police was conducting the surrender, but was unaware if the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) or Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) were involved in the process.  

“If the law enforcement agencies do not work together, this measure will not last for long,” he added.

Ukhiya upazila resident Ashraful Alam, also vice-president and manager of First Security Islami Bank Ltd Cox’s Bazar branch, said locals were in the dark over the surrender process.

“A significant portion of the youth in Cox’s Bazar has become addicted to yaba, but the authorities have not made a statement on how to address the situation when the drug is suddenly removed. The unavailability of the drug may drive these young users into becoming dealers or drug smugglers themselves,” he further said.

Palangkhali Union Parishad Chairman Gafur Uddin said: “Many of these dealers have earned a lot of money through illegal means, and they may resort to returning to crime if they have to start over from meagre beginnings.”

Echoing the UP chairman, Dhaka University (DU) criminology department Prof Zia Rahman welcomed the surrender initiative, but stressed the need for proper rehabilitation of the drug dealers.

“The surrender of gangs of robbers in the Sundarbans last year is a good example of how a surrender initiative, if properly implemented, can reduce crime,” he said, adding that the authorities need to find a reasonable financial solution so that the dealers who surrender are not tempted back into crime.

Human rights activist Nur Khan Liton said the surrender initiative would not be successful solely with the involvement of law enforcement agencies, and the public needed to be included in the process.

The lack of public involvement in the surrender and rehabilitation process is raising questions over whether the initiative will be transparent and have accountability, he added.

What do law enforcement agencies say?

Deputy Inspector General (Admin) of Police Headquarters Habibur Rahman said the surrender initiative was organized as the government had directed to reduce drug abuse in every section of society.

He also expressed hope that the latest initiative would be successful in the long term.

Additional SP Iqbal Hossain said the dealers who surrendered would still have to undergo trial for the cases previously filed against them, while district police sources said the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and National Board of Revenue (NBR) may be informed over the matter.

BGB 2 Director Asaduzzaman Chowdhury said he welcomed the initiative for the surrender, as reducing the number of drug dealers without any gunfire is a better option than the alternative.

He added that BGB is yet to be officially involved in the surrender process, but they hoped to be included soon. 

Department of Narcotics Control Additional Director (Intelligence) Nazrul Islam said they were not involved in the organizing of the surrender as police were assigned the task by the authorities.

He also said the Department of Narcotics Control has learned that they will be invited to the surrender ceremony, but declined to comment on the long term impact of the initiative.

This is not the first time that police have taken an initiative to rehabilitate drug dealers into a normal life. In 2017, a total 5,350 drug peddlers surrendered to police, and were provided with financial support as well as an animal for cultivation as part of the rehabilitation process. 

However, it was found that many of the dealers returned to drug smuggling within a few years.

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