A fraudster in many guises
Sometimes he introduced himself as an officer at the land office, sometimes as an officer in the deputy commissioner's office and at other times as an influential person in a government office.
In the last eight years, 48-year-old Abul Kalam Azad, a resident of Nabinagar area of Brahmanbaria district, played many roles to deceive people.
During this period, he embezzled at least Tk 20 crore to Tk 25 crore in name of settling property dispute and giving jobs. With the money, he now owns two buildings, a flat in Mohammadpur and multiple cars.
He also used one of his fake identities to get married multiple times. One of his wives is now working as a police sub-inspector at Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP).
He also used a part of the embezzled money to take part in the UP chairman election.
Azad contested for the chairman post from the Laur Fatehpur Union Parishad of Brahmanbaria in 2011 and 2016 from Jatiya Party. In the latest polls this year, he was campaigning to take part in the UP election for the chairman post, but this time from BNP.
He took around Tk 1 crore from a developer company by forging documents of state agencies. The developer company -- Happy Homes Limited -- then filed a case with Shahbagh Police Station.
While investigating the case, the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit arrested Azad and two of his associates -- Mobarak and Nur Hossain – from Dhaka on Wednesday.
Confirming the development, Tohidul Islam, additional deputy commissioner of CTTC unit, told The Daily Star on Friday that Azad has four to five members in his gang.
Azad is the ringleader, he said.
There were also four to five cases filed against him and the other arrestees, added Tohidul.
A victim of Azad's scam, Sharif Hossain Chowdhury, managing director of Happy Homes Limited, said they had built a building at 25-27 Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue in Dhaka on a 54-katha land.
In 2005, the district commissioner's office issued a notice for compensation as some land was acquired for a road extension project. But the developer company faced indefinite delay in collecting the money, Sharif said in the complaint.
Later, the High Court ordered that Tk 17.52 crore be paid as compensation for the land. However, the developer company has not received money even after 13 years, the complaint reads.
Azad appeared at the scene to solve the problem.
He met with the developer company and demanded Tk 8 crore to solve the problem, according to the victim and police.
Azad even showed the developers pay orders, checks and exemption orders from the DC office – all of which were forged.
Azad allegedly collected around Tk 1.12 crore between June 2019 and March 2021 and then stopped all communication with the developer.
Whenever the company wanted to meet him, he would threaten them, said victim and police.
ADC Tohidul said during primary interrogation, Azad admitted to taking Tk 92 lakh.
"We have produced him before the court seeking a 10-day remand. The court has fixed next week for the remand hearing. We are hoping to get more information from Azad during interrogation," he said.
Local and police sources said, Azad left his village home Nabinagar in 2000 after his HSC exams and moved to Dhaka to start a transport business.
In the beginning, he forged documents from Nilkhet and used the names of various government and non-government organisations to commit fraud activities, said investigators.
Locals claimed that they knew Azad as a businessman and an influential person.
In the last couple of years, Azad also took money from local youths promising he would give them jobs, but afterwards, he would stop all communications with them, claimed locals.
In the locality, Azad has allegedly sold one piece of land to multiple persons and collected money by forging documents.
Aminur Rashid, officer-in-charge of Nabinagar Police Station, said that there are three fraud cases and one warrant issued against Azad.
Talking to the correspondent, Lau Fotehpur village inhabitant Jewel Chowdhury, said Azad took money from many people, promising them jobs. His cousin gave Azad Tk 6 lakh in this regard, he claimed.
Shariful Islam, organising secretary of Nabinagar Upazila Jubo League, said Azad took Tk 15 lakh from him with a promise to arrange a land in Savar.
He also took Tk 6 lakh from Mizan and Tk 10 lakh from former vice-chairman of Nabinagar Nazmul Karim, added Shariful.