Questions raised after the crackdown by Rab against Jubo Mohila League leader Shamima Nur Papia have a familiar ring because versions of these same questions have been asked after similar crackdowns in the recent past: what enabled these leaders—who abused their connections to run criminal enterprises—to dodge scrutiny for so long, and why is no action being taken against their enablers? Addressing these questions is as important as taking down the criminals because, otherwise, we would just be seeing a replay of the familiar scene as new players replace the fallen and the crime wheel just spins nonstop. Papia is the latest subject of such crackdowns that are being tied to the government's ongoing anti-corruption drive. Before her, a host of leaders affiliated with the ruling party got busted for various crimes, all now in various stages of their trials.
The list of charges brought against Papia and her husband Mofizur Rahman Sumon, a former Chhatra League leader, is staggering. They reportedly ran a prostitution ring out of a presidential suite at a five-star hotel. They lobbied for recruitments in government offices in exchange for money, supplied illegal gas connections, and issued licences of CNG pump stations. They were also involved in arms and drugs trades. In the process, they have accumulated vast fortunes to the tune of crores. The duo has also been accused of having their own gang in their hometown in Narsingdi and running a torture cell there. Such an empire of crimes couldn't be built unaided or overnight, which again raises the question: how could they escape detection for so long? Who had protected them? Who aided them in their ventures? Who benefited from their illegal services?
Photos showing Papia with ruling party high-ups and other influentials surfaced on social media after her arrest. Rab also confirmed the involvement of a ruling party MP, who allegedly "blessed" Papia and Sumon after their relocation to Dhaka. Sumon is also said to have served as a bodyguard of a former mayor. Clearly, their rapport with the who's who in the political circles has not been one without benefits for the latter. Detaining them without detaining their enablers will be a travesty of justice. Which is why, the home minister's assurance—that no one involved with "controversial" activities will be spared—leaves us unconvinced. It fails to put to rest suspicions that the anti-corruption drive is being used to target only small fries, leaving out the big players behind them. Otherwise, why is no action being taken against the said MP involved in the rise of the criminal couple, or all the others before them? Unless their enablers are also brought to justice, as part of a genuine effort to curb crimes, there is little chance of the ongoing drive ever reaching its stated goal.