We need to open our eyes, and act against corruption
Who would have ever thought that there would be the existence of casinos and gambling in a country like Bangladesh? Who would have ever thought of the fact that not only one or two, but 60 casino centres in total were operating right in Dhaka city?
These casinos are as real and glittery as those in countries such as Thailand, with gambling machines, liquor, and amounts of money which exceed Tk100 crore every night.
It all happened last month, when the country woke up to “underworld operations” through the crackdown by law enforcers on some of the leaders of Jubo League. It was quite tough for some to digest the news.
Nevertheless, the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit asked the banks and the non-bank financial institutions to provide it with the information on all accounts of Jubo League Chairman Mohammad Omar Faruk Chowdhury. The financial intelligence made this move as part of the government’s ongoing crackdowns on casinos and gambling.
This led to the arrest of Jubo League leader GK Shamim, along with his seven bodyguards and one of the prominent leaders of Jubo League, Samrat, finally getting dethroned.
“Gambling was his only addiction,” claims Samrat’s wife Sharmin Chowdhury. “He had no greed for property, flats or cars … He used to take frequent trips to Singapore to gamble there,” she says.
Of course, such casinos and gambling have been legalized in countries such as the US, Thailand, and Nepal by their respective governments. However, in Bangladesh, the social norms of our society do not go hand in hand with the ideology of gambling, which is why it is still illegal here.
Critics would often argue that such gambling is a mere form of entertainment, but it is still against the moral and the social values of this country. Omar Faruk Chowdhury doubts that it was a “sudden” discovery: “You’re saying 60 casinos are in there. Law enforcement agencies, what have you been doing all this time?”
Truth be told, Omar Faruk has a point. It seemed highly unlikely that it was a sudden discovery. At this point in time, it would be difficult to believe that law enforcement agencies such as RAB, who constantly keep an eye on anything that might trouble the government, were not aware of the existence of such casinos.
So the question remains: What were they doing all this time? Why did they choose to now arrest these casino holders?
The gambling machines that were found could not possibly have been made in Bangladesh. Trained women were hired from four different countries, including Nepal and Thailand, to run these casinos. It seems that they had been flown in with the permission of some government authorities. There are even accusations that the narcotics department was involved.
Therefore, with time, such wrongdoings will continue to solidify in the society until and unless we put an end to this. With time, the trend of illegal gambling joints will continue to pervade.
In a country like Bangladesh, it is neither a source of revenue for the government, nor should it be treated as a form of entertainment, if only for the fact that these casinos will remain unregulated and leave room for corrupt behaviour and extortion.
One does not need to have extraordinary knowledge to guess the outcome if actions against such gambling operations are not taken.
Moreover, it is our duty to raise a red flag against any sort of wrongdoing. It is high time that we open our eyes and act against corruption and the travesty of governance. Only then can we make this society a better and more peaceful place to live in.
Adib Akhtab is a freelance contributor.