In the last two years, at least a dozen people have been shot dead in the capital's Badda by gangs run by some top criminals holed up abroad.
The killings were the results of rivalries between several politicians and criminals over the cable TV business and the distribution of extortion money collected from auto-rickshaw stands, cattle markets, and illegal shops on footpaths.
According to law enforcers, the members of the gangs are even paid “monthly salaries”, starting from Tk 10,000, depending on their “expertise and experience”.
The gang leaders give instructions to other members via apps such as Viber, WhatsApp and IMO, and transfer money through hundi (an unauthorised way of transaction) or banks. Sometimes, the gang members hold meetings in Malaysia, they said.
The law enforcers came across the information while investigating the murder of Badda Awami League General Secretary Farhad Hossain, who was gunned down by some armed men in broad daylight in North Badda on June 15.
Farhad was the latest victim of one such gang, they said.
He was killed as he had become an “obstacle to collection of extortion money,” said the investigators.
Three top criminals -- former Jubo League leader Ramjan, Narottam Saha alias Ashik and Mehedi alias Kolinch -- masterminded the killing, Abdul Baten, joint commissioner of DB police, told a press briefing at the DMP Media Centre yesterday.
Ramjan and Ashik are hiding somewhere in India while Mehedi in the USA, he said.
Following discussions with Ashik and Mehedi, Ramjan hired his younger brother Sujon for the contract killing. Later, Sujon paid some shooters of their gang Tk 1,00,000 and they carried out the murder, he said.
On Friday, a DB team arrested five suspects in the murder case, after raiding different places of the capital's Gulshan and Mirpur areas.
They were identified as Mohammad Jakir Hosen, Mohammad Arif Miah, Mohammad Abul Kalam Azad alias Onir, Mohammad Badrul Huda alias Sourav and Mohammad Billal Hosen alias Roni.
Police also claimed to have seized four pistols, four magazines and 12 bullets from their possession.
Detectives said they arrested the five acting on information gleaned from another suspect, Jahirul Islam alias Sujon, who was arrested on July 10. He already gave a confessional statement in court.
While addressing the press briefing, Baten said Sourav and Onir, along with another shooter Nur Islam, took part in the killing.
Nur is now dead. He and another suspect Amit alias Dada Amit, a member of “Mehedi Group”, were killed in a “gunfight” with police on July 4.
DB Deputy Commissioner Mashiur Rahman, who is coordinating the investigation into the Farhad killing, told The Daily Star that they had so far found the involvement of 16 people in the murder. Of them, two were killed in a “gunfight” and six were in police custody.
“We have gotten details of others but some of them are staying abroad,” he said, adding that the law enforcers were trying to arrest all the suspects.
On May 9, Abdur Razzak Babu alias “Dish Babu”, a cable TV operator, was killed in Badda following feuds over his business. Earlier on April 23, Kamruzzaman Dukhu, 35, brother of Badda Thana AL General Secretary Jahangir Alam, was murdered over establishing supremacy in cement and land business.
Investigators said instructions for both the murders came from Malaysia.
Top criminals, hiding in the UK, the USA, Sweden, Malaysia and India, were running criminal gangs in Bangladesh. They were trying to create unstable situation in the country, said Baten.
“After the Farhad killing, they had planned to kill another person,” he said, adding, “We are trying to locate all the members of the gangs”.
Those who run gangs in Badda despite being abroad include Robin and Dalim, both in Malaysia, and Sakhwat Hossain Chanchal and Nahid, who are in the USA and Sweden respectively.
Chanchal left the country in 2013 after the killing of Jubo League leader Riazul Haque Khan Milky. Others, including Robin, Dalim and Nahid, went abroad between 2005 and 2008 after the Rapid Action Battalion began a massive crackdown on criminals, the sources said.
But the criminals still have a strong grip on Badda through their paid killers. Police sources said 21 people were killed in Badda in two years since April 2016. Most of the victims were shot dead.
Wishing anonymity, a deputy commissioner of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police told The Daily Star that Badda has become a “hotbed of crimes”.
“Repeated killings using firearms are a clear indication of deterioration of law and order of a particular area,“ he said, adding such killings were taking place in Badda in broad daylight as the planners and patrons remained off the hook.
Police said each of the top criminals runs three separate groups, each consisting of five to six members.
The first group takes part in the decision making, the second group collects information about the target and the third group carries out the murder, they said.
Two top police officials, keeping an eye on the gangs for over a decade, said the gang leaders held meetings with the decision making group in Malaysia and discussed various issues of the gangs.
“We are working to bring back the criminals hiding abroad,” Baten said.