22 October 2018, Mon, 3:59

300 killed but yaba trade uninterrupted

The government's declared mission to eliminate drugs through recent anti-drug drive that claimed 300 lives, has flopped as cross-border and domestic trade of narcotic pill yaba is still going on.

Almost cent per cent godfathers of drug peddlers were spared from actions on the plea of lack of evidence of their involvement in drug trafficking.

Sources of the resources acquired by listed godfathers were not investigated either, let alone confiscating their properties, according to members of three forces involved with the drive.

They say combating drugs is no longer an official priority since the police personnel have already been assigned to deal with the issues of general elections due later this year or so.

The special drive since May that created certain controversies at home and abroad for the casualties and indiscriminate arrests, cannot continue over a long period of time, some in the law enforcement pointed out.

Statistics generated by the law enforcement responsible for combating drugs, suggest entry of drugs through land and water routes could not be stopped despite the drive.

‘All-out war’ was declared to address the drug menace ruining the Bangladesh society, but all the quarters were not sincere with the cause, according to some of those involved with the drive.

Mainly small drug traders and carriers were killed in the so-called gunfights that reportedly took place during the drive, investigation finds. Only one of the listed godfathers is now in jail while two others were killed in alleged gunfights.

Director general of Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) Md Jamal Uddin, however, claims that the drive was a success. “Godfathers are not in comfort. They have been forced to leave their localities,” he said.

Asked if the godfathers were given the chance to escape by detaining the smaller players, he rejected criticism about the reported gunfights.

The home minister, Asaduzzaman Khan, said the anti-drug drive will continue and accelerate in the coming days.

At least 300 people were killed in what the law enforcers reported as gunfights and some 60,000 detained during the drive since May.

Human rights groups and the opposition political parties criticised the drive, alleging that it was being used to suppress the dissenting voices ahead of the next general elections.

Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), Coast Guard, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the police and the Department of Narcotics Control are engaged in the drive.

The yaba pills seized along the bordering areas between May and September this year were more than four million higher than the seizure during the corresponding period of the previous year, according to BGB.

The police and RAB personnel recovered over 13 million yaba pills from across the country between May and August this year.

Narcotic control officials argued the yaba pills could not be recovered from inside the country, had the borders been sealed in terms of entry of drugs.

Yaba pills are smuggled into the country through 64 border points in Cox's Bazar with Myanmar, a top law enforcement official told the media. Water routes are also used for bringing in yaba, the official added.

Coast Guard spokesman lieutenant commander Abdullah Al Maruf said about 2.10 million yaba pills were recovered between May and October this year and 26 people were detained.

The law enforcement agencies were asked to make a list of godfathers by 31 July to detain patrons, abettors and investors and bring them to book. Their assets were supposed to be confiscated, according to official decision.

Out of 62 top drug traders, Akhtar Kamal of Sabrang union was killed and bullet-hit body of Shamsul Alam of Noyapara was recovered from Cox's Bazar, according to the narcotics control officials.

Akhtar Kamal is the accomplice of Sahedur Rahman Nipu, nephew of ruling party member of parliament from Teknaf Abdur Rahman Badi.

Names of five sons of late Ejahar Mia Company of village Aliabad in Teknaf police station of Cox's Bazar, were found in the list, according to an independent investigation.

None of them except Badi is staying in their locality. Twenty more listed godfathers also left their localities.

However, local sources said, they are operating their ‘business’ from Chattogram, Dhaka and Narayanganj.

Top drug traders Saiful Karim, MP Badi’s elder brother Abdus Shukkur and his sister's brother-in-law Syed Hossain reportedly fled to Dubai.

As many as 37 top drug traders live in Dhaka, officials concerned said. Of them, Md Nadim alias Pachish and Md Nazrul Islam alias Nozu were killed in reported gunfights with law enforcement.

According to DNC’s Mukul Joty Chakma, a big drug trader in Dhaka is Md Istiyak alias Kamrul Hasan, who was never detained.

Some other listed drug traders were detained but were freed on bail and resumed drug trade, the official added.

Deputy inspector general (media and public relations) at police headquarters SM Ruhul Amin said the border has to be sealed if drug is to be eliminated entirely. “If drugs are smuggled into the country, it cannot be eliminated,” the official observed.

Admitting that some members of law enforcement are involved in drug trafficking, the police official said steps are taken whenever a police man is found guilty.

About the outcome of the operation, Dhaka region narcotics control officer Khorshed Alam said the prices of yaba pills go up whenever a drive is conducted. “Sales and consumption of yaba in open space fell,” the official added.

Narcotics control officials are concerned about a new reality that a fresh set of yaba traders are joining the illicit trade.