THERE was an interesting joke in Vienna around the mid 1970s. An army tank of the former Soviet Union once lost its way and by mistake entered into Austria in the darkness of the night. Neither any army surveillance team nor any border security guard could detect it. The tank was discovered by chance by a traffic police on the following day during a routine patrol only because it had been parked on the wrong side of the road. Soon the following joke went viral among the Austrians: “Nobody in Austria would know if the Soviet Union invades the country unless they park their tanks on the wrong side of the road!”
Now, who would have known about Nur Hossain and his illegal activities, had there been no case of murder in Narayanganj with him as the prime suspect? On April 27, seven people including Nazrul Islam, four of his associates and senior lawyer Chandan Sarker and his driver, were kidnapped separately from the Dhaka-Narayanganj link road. Their bodies were later found in the Shitalakkhya River.
The life of Nur Hossain, the prime suspect on the run, is a typical rags-to-riches story. He started his carrier as a truck-helper but soon got involved in underworld activities. Within years he became the king of the drug empire in the Siddhirganj area. He owned 20 shops to sell drugs and liquor, both local and foreign. His stores used to be open, often day and night, till six bodies of the seven abductees were found floating in the Shitalakkhya River. He possessed 11 licensed firearms, was engaged in illegal lifting of sand from the bank of the Shitalakhya River and also extortion. It is reported that money came to him like “flood waters” and he carried out all his illegal activities under the nose of the law enforcers and the local administration without ever being challenged.
New stories on Nur Hossain's underworld activities are now surfacing every day, giving rise to many questions. Is there only one Nur Hossain? Who are the other ones engaged in illegal drug and liquor trades, sand lifting and extortion in other areas of Bangladesh? How many musclemen possess more than one licensed firearms? How many licensed firearms does a person need for his own protection? Are not the law-enforcing agencies and the local administrations aware of them?
Shall we know the answers before it is too late or must we wait till another ghastly incident occurs to reveal the identity of another Nur Hossain?
The writer is a former chief engineer of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission.