Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan yesterday said the nationwide anti-narcotics drive would continue until the illegal drug trade came under control.
He made the announcement as the number of those killed in the drive reached 160 yesterday since the operation began 53 days ago. Most of the people were killed in “shootouts” involving the police and the Rab.
The minister was speaking at a press conference at his ministry, organised marking the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking today.
Responding to a query, Asaduzzaman said most of the yaba tablets were smuggled into Bangladesh from Myanmar and the government on several occasions had requested the Myanmar government to close the yaba factories in their territories. “The Myanmar government did nothing in response to our request.”
Asked about the Phensidyl factories in the Indian territories, the home minister said the Indian authorities closed many of those.
About the deaths of alleged drug dealers, he said the government did not have any intention to kill people and it was against any kind of killing.
“The operations are being conducted according to a list. Where there are illegal drugs, there is illegal money and illegal arms. So, gunfights can occur. Our law enforcers are also being injured.”
ANOTHER KILLED IN 'GUNFIGHT'
Meanwhile, an alleged drug trader was killed and another injured in a “gunfight” with a team of Detective Branch of police in Chapainawabganj's Shibganj upazila early yesterday, reports our correspondent in the district.
The dead, Kaiyum Sheikh, 30, was from Monakasha village in the upazila.
Injured Firoz, aged about 38, was receiving treatment at Rajshahi Medical College Hospital (RMCH).
The “gunfight” took place around 3:00am when a police team cordoned off Firoz's house in Chouka village, said TM Mojahidul Islam, superintendent of police in Chapainawabganj.
Sensing the presence of law enforcers, a criminal gang opened fire at police. As the policemen fired retaliatory shots, the “gunfight” broke out, he added.
Police later found Kaiyum and Firoz injured and sent the two to Shibganj Health Complex. They were later shifted to the RMCH where Kaiyum died of his injuries around 7:00am, the SP said.
According to police, the two men were accused in several cases.
At the press conference in the capital, Home Minister Asaduzzaman gave statistics about the ongoing anti-drug drive. He said over 22,000 people have been sent to jail since May 12 over their alleged involvement in drug trade.
“Our prisons have a capacity of 36,000 prisoners, but there are now about 80,000. Of them, 43 percent are involved in drug peddling.”
About the probe into the killing of Teknaf municipality ward councillor Akramul Haque, the home boss only said the Rab was investigating the incident and the ministry was monitoring it. “We will let you know about the investigation once it done.”
Akramul was killed in what Rab claimed a gunfight between the force and drug dealers in Cox's Bazar on May 27. However, his wife Ayesha Begum alleged that her husband was murdered in cold blood.
PROBE AGAINST COPS UNDERWAY
Chuadanga police have been investigating the alleged patronisation of drug dealers by three police officials as their name appeared in a list prepared by the home ministry, a top district police official said, reports our Kushtia correspondent.
They are OC Akram Hossain of Damurhuda Police Station, Sub-Inspector Suzon Ali of Jamjami police camp in Alamdanga upazila and Assistant Sub-Inspector Tuhin Akter of Hijolgari police camp in Chuadanga Sadar upazila. The list named 152 alleged drug dealers and their patrons, including the three cops.
The three policemen were withdrawn and attached to Chuadanga Police Lines recently.
Md Torikul Islam, additional superintendent of police in Chuadanga and also the head of the three-member probe body, said he was hopeful of submitting the probe report soon.