There is a general sense of alarm across the country raised by the recent spurt in crimes ranging from extortion to abduction to killing, either for ransom or to extract political vengeance or because of business feud. In Narayanganj, seven persons were abducted in broad daylight and killed on April 27. Their bodies, tied to bags full of bricks, were dumped into the river Shitalakkhya.
We see mafia groups enjoying the patronage of feuding political parties and rival business groups and striking terror all over the country. The cult of warlordism that began in early '80s has spread throughout the country. None of the major political parties is immune to the contagion. Most of the murders committed these days relate to either drug sale or drug money sharing, or control over illegal encroachment of land and markets built illegally. The media headlined the reports in 2013 about abduction and subsequent killing of Tawki, an A-level student, because his father and his associates launched a movement against some godfathers in Narayanganj.
We are no strangers to violence and atrocities, but it is impossible to explain the abominable ferocity of killing a minor boy to take revenge on his father. With incidents of abduction by criminals and allegedly by members of the law enforcement agencies rising sharply in recent months, people fear for their lives because an uninvolved person like Chandan Sarkar and some others were killed only because they were witness to this abduction.
In recent times, crime pattern has taken a new shape. Hired goons in the age group 16-30 are now doing the most atrocious jobs, ripping apart the age-old societal norms and value systems. Crime dossiers and lists of bad characters -- the foundations of detection -- are of no use since a vast majority of criminals are young novices and new recruits. Quick money seems to be the new 'mantra.' With family value already under stress and job market squeezing up, crime suddenly seems to be an alluring option. For them, crime pays!
Despite the fact that family members of ward councilor Nazrul Islam were pointing fingers at Noor Hosain, his long-standing business and political rival, from the beginning of his abduction, strangely enough, law enforcers at Narayanganj took no cognisance or showed total reluctance in either arresting him or even interrogating him. With Narayanganj police reluctant to interrogate Noor Hossain, and his accomplices, the main alleged culprits in the seven murder case, or even raiding his house for alamat immediately after the incident, the image of the police and Rab has again taken a beating.
People are prone to believe that those seven lives could have been saved if police and Rab had gone into action immediately after getting the complaint from Nazrul's wife. The whole episode remained shrouded in mystery because of police inaction. People wonder why the home ministry bosses remained inactive even when Nazrul complained to them that he feared an attack from Noor Hossain and asked for security only days before this tragic incident. Issuing red alert in the immigration checkposts now seems to be a futile exercise and simple eyewash.
In the backdrop of such ominous developments, people are looking to the courts to intervene to see that justice is done. Terrorists and killers like Noor Hossain have evaded arrest and punishment because all these years they were protected by their political mentors belonging to all the parties. People now increasingly feel that unless the guilty are tried and convicted -- not just tried and then let off -- such goons are likely to flourish with ever increasing strength. At the same time, the highest court may summon those involved in Noor Hossain's underworld criminal activities and place them on the dock for answering charges of harbouring notorious criminals. Reports say that Noor Hossain has so far been indicted in 22 cases, including six for murder.
It will be interesting to see what happens to Noor Hossain and his accomplices accused of murdering seven persons in Narayanganj. They are still on the run. People are asking in anguished voices if raiding his house seven days after the tragic incident was intended to allow him to flee the country. People feel that it might have been so because it was alleged that some law enforcers were involved in the dirty deal with these criminals.
As revelations of his seamy career of building wealth through illegal occupation of numerous market places, property dealings with crores of taka, illegal possession of BIWTA land, sand extraction from the Shitalakkhya river and collection of huge amount of tolls every month through unfair business started trickling out, Noor Hossain got panicky and started hatching plans to eliminate those opposing him.
Immediately after the abduction of Nazrul and his associates, his wife Selina Islam rushed to the ruling party MP Shamim Osman, appealing to him to rescue Nazrul, pointing her finger at Noor Hossain. But Shamim Osman completely ruled out Noor Hosain's participation in the abduction at that time. Narayanganj people believe that in all such abductions, killings and criminal activities since 2012, the godfather families in Narayanganj played a big role, and some law enforcers there were just pawns in their hands. And now the alleged complicity of the elite force Rab makes it all the more painful.
An unlettered truck-driver in the '80s in Narayanganj, who could barely eke out an existence, Noor Hossain's has been rags-to-riches story like in the films. Fiercely ambitious, Noor Hossain knew the importance of two things -- godfathers and connections. This connection paid him off enormously.
As it appears, some in the governments in the past days might have protected and abetted Noor Hossain's criminal activities. At the beginning of his dirty life, Noor Hossain discovered that politics provided him both a cover and protection. And so he flirted with Ershad's JP in its heyday, then joined BNP at the most opportune moment and then AL to suit his convenience. As one looks at Noor Hossain's meteoric rise to power, one feels that the most dangerous “Mafia don” had been protected and patronised for a long time, otherwise how could he extract sand from the Shitalakkhya river despite 22 notices served on him by BIWTA? Noor Hossain and his likes buy social and political acceptability by allowing their mentors and godfathers to enjoy everything that they covet.
The writer is a columnist of The Daily Star.