Former Awami League lawmaker and alleged yaba kingpin Abdur Rahman Bodi a no show as seven of his family members surrender
A total of 102 yaba dealers and smugglers have officially surrendered to police with 350,000 yaba tablets and 30 firearms in front of Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal at an event in Teknaf upazila, Cox’s Bazar.
The unprecedented event, aimed to help the criminals pay their debt to society and return to normal life, was organized at the Teknaf Pilot High School grounds on Saturday.
Apart from the home minister, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Md Javed Patwary, Cox's Bazar Deputy Commissioner Md Kamal Hossain, senior officials of police, Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) and other securities agencies, and four local lawmakers were present at the program, which was also attended by hundred of locals.
The conditions for the surrender of illegal narcotics dealers were to leave the drug trade forever, and to act as confidential informants. They will have to participate in coordinated initiatives performing special role in curbing yaba trade from their own area. Those who surrender, will however have to face legal action for their past crimes.
The information of their wealth made under their name or unmanned, would be sent to ACC, CID (money laundering unit), National Board of Revenue (NBR), and other organizations concerned, for verification and further legal process.
Cox's Bazar Superintendent of Police (SP) ABM Masud Hossain said that these drug dealers and smugglers were taken to the Police Lines first from the surrendering event and questioned. “New cases will be filed too against them and those who profited from drug dealing.”
However, he said, these criminals would have to legally tackle the past cases against them on their own.
The administration can provide them with necessary assistance so that they do not face any legal hurdle and recommend the court to help them rehabilitate, the SP added.
Later in the day, the 102 criminals were sent to jail by Cox’s Bazar’s Chief Judicial Magistrate Delwar Hossain.
The district’s Additional SP Md Iqbal Hossain said they were produced before his court around 6:30pm. The criminals were taken there on three buses.
Court police’s Inspector Md Didanur Alam said two cases — one under the Narcotics Control Act and the other under the Arms Act — were filed against these drug dealers and smugglers.
Earlier at the event, SP Masud said: “Following the government’s zero tolerance policy taken in May last year, around 1,441 drugs-related cases have been filed with police stations in Cox’s Bazar alone. Around 1,583 suspects have also been arrested so far in these cases.”
He said that around 53 drug traders and peddlers were killed during “gunfights” with law enforcement officials or in turf wars within the same timeframe.
“The surrender of drug dealers is conditional and ill-gotten wealth amassed by them will be investigated by authorities concerned,” added the SP.
Commenting on the matter, Awami League’s Cox Bazar unit President Sirajul Islam Mostafa said: “The number of people surrendering to the law is not important, we want visible progress in curbing drugs-related offences."
Seven family members of former Awami League lawmaker and alleged yaba kingpin Abdur Rahman Bodi were among the yaba dealers who surrendered on Saturday. However, Bodi was a no show.
Addressing the surrendering event, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal firmly stated that drug smugglers and illegal trespassers will not be allowed to enter Bangladesh.
He further warned that the government will not spare anyone when the security and safety of the nation is at stake, and the administration will take tougher action to the highest extent of the law.
The minister said the government will do its best to rehabilitate those who surrendered to the law on Saturday.
“The government will assist them in returning to a normal life and will form drug abuse prevention committees in thana level with support from the police and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB),” he added.
IGP Javed Patwary also sounded a note of warning, saying: “If the Home Ministry does not give them (drug dealers) any further chance of surrender, they will have to face dire consequences.
“More events for their surrender such as this will be held in the future.”
Echoing the same opinion, police’s Chittagong Range Deputy Inspector General Khandaker Golam Faruq said: “Around 109 drug peddlers were killed during gunfights with law enforcement officials across Chittagong Range last year.”
“Those who are smuggling in drugs from Myanmar would never be considered citizens of Bangladesh,” he added.
Cox’s Bazar 4 constituency MP Shahin Akhter, who is also the wife of former Awami League lawmaker Bodi, said: “Around 70 kilometres of border in Cox’s Bazar remains unprotected, and we urge the government to secure it.
“I am also calling upon the authorities concerned to allow around 10,000 local fishermen to fish during daytime in the region, as anti-drug drives have disrupted their livelihood.”
Plea for help
Addressing the event following his surrender, a drug dealer named Mohammad Siraj said: “I urge all the drug dealers to stop and use the opportunity for redemption provided by this program by surrendering to police.
“We will work with the law enforcement agencies to make Teknaf a yaba-free region.”
Siraj also urged the home minister and the administration to provide those who surrendered with assistance to legally face the past cases against them.
Another Yaba dealer named Enamul Haque Enam, alias Enam Member, also urged the administration to form ward base local committee in collaboration with the law enforcement agencies to tackle the drug smugglers.
The zero tolerance policy against narcotics and their dealers was taken by the government in May last year.
Afterwards, the Home Ministry had released a list of names of the yaba dealers, which had 1,151 names of criminals from Cox’s Bazar and 73 of them were marked kingpins.
The list also included the name of former MP Bodi and 26 members of his family. Names of many leaders from Awami League, BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami were in the list as well.