Ten more alleged drug peddlers were killed in “gunfights” across the country yesterday, bringing the tally of “shootout” victims to 52 during the anti-narcotics drives by law enforcers in the last 10 days.
Among those killed yesterday, seven died in “gunfights” with law enforcers during raids in four districts -- two each in Feni and Comilla and one each in Narayanganj, Brahmanbaria and Jhenidah.
The three others were shot dead in Magura and Cox's Bazar over “internal feuds in their drugs rackets”, law enforcers claimed. However, family members said unidentified men picked up the three on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The bullet-riddled body of one more alleged drug peddler was recovered in Satkhira, police said. The deceased's wife alleged that her husband was picked up by some unidentified men on Wednesday.
As the killing in “gunfights” has been going on amid criticism and concern from different quarters, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader yesterday defended the ongoing drive saying drug peddlers were being killed in “encounters” with law enforcers.
“We don't support extrajudicial killings, but drug peddlers have a syndicate. They have ties with terrorists and armed criminals. When police go to arrest them [drug peddlers], they fight them [police] with arms. Encounter takes place. You can't call it extrajudicial killing,” he told journalists in the capital.
In Feni, suspected drug traders Monir Hossain, 32, and Shah Miran Shamim, 30, were killed in a “gunfight” with police in Dakshin Jambura Road area in the district's Fulgazi upazila.
Police claimed to have recovered a firearm, 200 bottles of phensedyl and 700 yaba tablets from the spot.
Family members of both the deceased alleged that police demanded money for their release after they were picked up from their homes on Wednesday. Police, however, claimed the allegation was not true.
In Narayanganj, alleged drug peddler Selim was killed in a “shootout” with police in Maghmara area of Siddhirganj upazila early yesterday, said Abdus Sattar, officer-in-charge of Siddhirganj Police Station.
Selim, aged about 36, was accused in at least 17 cases filed with different police stations, he said, adding police recovered a firearm, five bottles of phensedyl and l,500 yaba tablets from the spot.
In Brahmanbaria, a man, aged about 40, was killed in another “gunfight” with police in Akhaura upazila's Bangaj Bailey Bridge area. The dead, Amir Kha, was from Chanpur village of the same upazila.
Amir was accused in at least 12 cases, including murder and drug cases, said OC Musharraf Hossain Tarafdar of Akhaura Police Station.
In Comilla, alleged drug traders Babul alias Lomba Babul of Chauddagram upazila and Razib of Sadar South upazila were killed in separate “gunfights”.
Police said they took Babul to Amandganj area to recover firearms early yesterday, hours after he was picked up from Chauddagram municipality area on Wednesday night. The man was killed when a gunfight broke out between police and his cohorts.
According to law enforcers, Babul was accused in five cases.
Another “shootout” took place in Comilla's Goalmothon area that left Rajib killed.
In Jhenidah, an alleged drug trader, aged about 42 years, was killed in a “gunfight” with police near the electricity office in Kaliganj upazila around 11:00pm yesterday.
The dead, Shamim Sardar, was from Arpara village in the same upazila.
Mizanur Rahman, OC of Kaliganj Police Station, said police raided the electricity office area in Balidapara village on information that some drug traders were selling yaba tablets there.
Sensing the presence of law enforcers, criminals opened fire on police, forcing them to fire retaliatory shots.
A little while later, police found Shamim dead riddled with bullets. The other criminals managed to flee, said the OC.
Shamim's wife Shamsunnahar alleged that some plainclothes policemen had picked up her husband from his Bihari More shop around 5:00pm on Wednesday.
'GUNFIGHTS BETWEEN GANGS'
In Magura, alleged drug traders Ayub Hussain, 48, and Mizanur Rahman Kaki, 44, were killed in a “gunfight” between two groups of drug peddlers in Parnanduali Housing Project area over distribution of money, claimed police.
Family members, however, said the two were picked up on Tuesday from their houses by some unidentified men.
Police later recovered their bullet-hit bodies from the spot. They also found 500 gram heroine and three bullets, said Md Sayruddin Ahammad, an assistant superintendent of police in Magura.
Mizanur was accused in 21 drug-related cases while Ayub in 18. They had been running illegal drug trades for long, the ASP added.
Ayub's daughter Roksana said her father quit drug trade about two years ago and stared working as an auto-rickshaw driver to maintain their family.
She alleged that some unidentified men picked up her father on Tuesday night. “They killed my father and cooked up the story of a gunfight.”
Mizanur's elder brother Delwar Hosdain Delu said his brother, a farmer by profession, was a druggie, but he was not involved in drug trade. “My brother was picked up by some plainclothes men on Tuesday night.”
Many influential drug traders were moving freely in the area, but they were not being brought to book, he alleged.
The ASP denied all the allegations.
Satkhira police claimed to have recovered the bullet-hit body of Abdul Aziz from Choubaria village in Kaliganj upazila around 6:00am yesterday.
Police said they recovered a revolver, a bullet and 48 bottles of phensedyl from near the body.
Aziz's wife Ayesha Khatun said a group unidentified men picked up her husband after iftar on Wednesday. She heard about his death yesterday morning.
The woman said her husband was involved in drug trade previously, but he returned to normal life off late.
In Rajshahi, police shot alleged drug dealer Aziza Begum as she tried to escape custody hours after she was arrested from the city's Tultulipara area around 9:30pm on Wednesday.
The incident happened when police were taking her to Kashiadanga Police Station in a van, said OC Rabiul Islam of the police station.
Aziza, a listed drug dealer, was admitted to Rajshahi Medical College Hospital with bullet injuries to her right leg, said law enforcers.
In Cox's Bazar, cops recovered the bullet-hit body of alleged yaba trader Md Hasan from Uttaran residential area around 3:30am yesterday.
Farid Uddin Ahmed, officer-in-charge of Cox's Bazar Police Station, said 35-year-old Hasan was killed in a “gunfight” between two groups of yaba traders.
But Hasan's brother Shohor Mulluk said a group of plainclothes men picked up his brother from his house early on Tuesday.
The Rab began the anti-narcotics drive on May 4 while the police launched a nationwide 10-day special crackdown on drug dealers on May 18. Law enforcers arrested about 4,500 people from across the country until Wednesday.
Yesterday, the Rab picked up 25 people and its mobile courts handed jail sentences to 95 others across the country.
2.5 LAKH YABA PILLS SEIZED
Meanwhile, police recovered 2.5 lakh yaba tablets worth Tk 7.5 crore from a house in Teknaf upazila of Cox's Bazar on Wednesday night, reports UNB.
Tipped off, a team of police raided the home in Habirchhara Ghat area around 11:30pm and recovered the drugs, said Ranjit Kumar, OC of Teknaf Model Police Station.
A group of smugglers brought the drugs from Myanmar on a trawler and kept those in the house, he said.
ROHINGYA GROUPS WELCOME DRIVE
Twenty-two Rohingya organisations have lauded the Bangladesh government for carrying out the anti-narcotics drive across the country.
In a statement yesterday, they called upon the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh to launch a war against drugs by taking a strong stance against the flow of yaba from Myanmar.
“Rohingya refugees currently stranded in the camps of Bangladesh are hereby requested to inform the Bangladeshi authorities on any suspicious activities linked to yaba smuggling. Rohingya elders, community leaders and religious scholars are also requested to educate the younger generation about the dangers of this narcotics that has destroyed countless families in Bangladesh and many countries of South East Asia,” said the statement.
It said yaba smuggling has provided the Myanmar army with the resources to carry out genocide against Rohingya Muslims and the ability to wage wars against other ethnic minorities.
Our correspondents in Jhenidah, Cox's Bazar, Comilla, Bhahmanbaria, Narayanganj and two correspondents from Feni and Satkhira contributed to this report.