A rift has emerged in the Chattogram Awami League over Jatiya Sangsad whip Shamsul Hoque Chowdhury’s alleged patronisation of gambling at a sporting club and his son issuing a threat to a senior party leader.
Shamsul, lawmaker from Chattogram-12, and his son Nazmul Karim Chowdhury Sharun were drawing flak from several AL leaders over the issues, said party sources.
Some of them even termed Shamsul, a former Jatiya Party leader, an infiltrator in the AL.
Amid this, several hundred followers of the lawmaker and his son brought out a procession in a show of strength in the port city on Friday afternoon.
The procession was staged after Shamsul landed at Shah Amanat International Airport in a flight from Dhaka.
Speaking at a rally in the area, the whip claimed that he was a victim of a conspiracy by a group, which was “jealous” of his holding the JS post.
On September 21, amid the ongoing drives against “casinos”, Rab-7 raided Chattogram Abahani Limited club in Halishahar area of the city and found some playing cards there.
Talking to Bangla daily Prothom Alo the next day, Shamsul, also secretary general of the club, criticised the raid, saying if young people were not allowed to play cards at sporting clubs, they might engage in petty crimes like mugging.
A few days later, Chattogram City Corporation Mayor AJM Nasir Uddin, also general secretary of Chattogram city AL, said there was no room for gambling or running casinos at sporting clubs.
In a joint statement on Wednesday, city AL President Mahtab Uddin Chowdhury and Nasir said those rejecting the government’s ongoing drives against casinos would be considered as “enemy of the people”.
Vice President of the city AL Khorshed Alam Sujan said gambling at the Abahani club was an open secret.
He also termed the JS whip an AL infiltrator and said he was a Jatiya Party-blessed ward commissioner in the 1980s.
Contacted yesterday, Shamsul said he welcomed the drives against “casinos” and the media published “only parts of his remark”.
He claimed that no gambling took place at the Abahani club.
About some AL leaders calling him an infiltrator, he said he was nominated for the MP post of Chattogram-12 three times in the past. “Some people are just jealous of me. That’s why there are making such comments.”
The Abahani club was opened in 1981 with the name Abahani Krira Chakra, Chattogram. It was renamed Chattogram Abahani Limited in 2001.
‘KARIM THREATENS DIDARUL’
Recently, a clip of a telephone conversation in which Karim is heard threatening Didarul Alam Chowdhury, youth and sports affairs secretary of Chattogram city AL and also the founding general secretary of the Abahani club, has been doing the rounds on social media.
At one stage of the conversation, Karim, a member of an AL sub-committee on financial affairs, is heard telling Didarul that he would slap and beat him up in public.
Didarul said Karim became furious after the youth affairs secretary earlier this month applied to a private bank in Chattogram for closing a bank account belonging to Chattogram Abahani Limited.
The account was opened in 2007 with signatures of three -- Didarul, JS whip Shamsul and SM Saifuddin, team manager of the Abahani Football Committee.
Didarul took the step alleging Shamsul made illegal transaction through the account, several AL leaders alleged.
Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, Didarul termed Shamsul an infiltrator in AL and alleged he made money from gambling at the club.
Didarul alleged that more than Tk 6 lakh was spent in gambling every night at the club.
He said he currently does not hold any post at the club and that he went for closing the account as it might land him in trouble.
Asked about threatening Didarul, Karim, also a director of Chattogram Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told The Daily Star the audio clip that went viral was edited and it had only parts of the full conversation.
He, however, admitted that he got angry at one point after Didarul allegedly used abusive words against his father.
Several AL leaders in Chattogram criticised Karim for his behaviour with Didarul.