Police arrested a man with two firearms from Bichnakandi area of Gowainghat upazila in Sylhet on Tuesday afternoon.
The arms were smuggled into Bangladesh from Lakhatbazar of India’s Meghalaya state through a temporary border haat (market) in the Indian side, said police.
The arrestee, Arab Ali, 36, smuggled the arms with the help of another local man and an associate in India, said Farid Uddin, superintendent of police in Sylhet, while addressing a press conference yesterday.
Police recovered two revolvers -- a .22 bore and a .32 bore -- from the arrestee.
The SP said, “We came to know about the smuggling route after the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of Dhaka Metropolitan Police arrested three men with arms last week. Following their finding, we started looking for the involved syndicate members and finally arrested Arab Ali with two firearms.”
On September 5, CTTC arrested three men -- Abdus Sahid, 40; his friend Ansar Miah, 40; and their carrier Dolon Miah, 38 -- and recovered three revolvers. Interrogating the arrestees, CTTC came to know about the route in Sylhet and Arab Ali.
Contacted, Jahangir Alam, additional deputy commissioner of CTTC unit, said Arab Ali is an important accused in their case. “We would submit a prayer to court to show Arab Ali arrested in the case filed with Jatrabari Police Station for further investigation.”
“The border haat in Lakhatbazar sits once every four days, and the arms smugglers have been using the site for last two years,” said SP Farid Uddin.
He said, “After interrogating Arab Ali, we came to know that he smuggled 12 firearms in the last two years and handed them to Sahid, who was arrested earlier by CTTC.”
“A Khasia man -- named Barik -- running a vegetable stall at the border haat, handed over the arms to Arab Ali and another local. They in turn, handed those to Sahid. We came to know that Sahid was operating the route,” said the SP.
SP Farid also said, “Arab did not know that Sahid and two others were arrested; police learnt of the route as he was in India for the last couple of days. Arab Ali returned with two firearms on Tuesday which were supposed to be handed over to Sahid.”
“We have already raided the house of another smuggler in the area but he is on the run. We are looking for him,” the SP said, adding that police has tightened security on the route to the border haat and will make sure that it cannot be used for arms smuggling further.