Top guns of BNP and AL arrested as per the blueprint by Fakhruddin government

 A.H. Jaffor Ullah

Published on February 13, 2007


Did you read the news on February 4, 2007 bright and early in the morning?  The news may please you to say the least.  The top guns of the evil enterprise that siphoned tens and thousands crores of Taka are now being apprehended by the joint force of army and police. 

Ever since the new interim government of Bangladesh was put in place on January 12, 2007 the joint forces of army, police, RAB, etc had arrested more than 40,000 small fries from allover the nation who were allegedly connected with politically backed criminal enterprises.  The interim government waited a while though before going after the top guns of this evil empire.

The much awaited news of the arrests at wee hours of night of dozen or so national-level politicians belonging to both BNP and Awami League made the headlines and abuzz the Internet this time.  Supposedly, the army and police arrested not the small fries but bigwigs were netted mostly from the metropolitan area of Dhaka.  Noticeably absent from the list was Sadek Hosain Khoka, the godfather of criminal gang composed of Dhaka city�s ward commissioners and the corrupt mayor of the capital.  

The newspapers of Dhaka played a crucial role in creating the pressure to arrest the who�s who of the crime world.  The front page of Dhaka�s dailies profiled the crimes committed by one or two individual everyday with the colored photograph of the alleged politician.  Some of the articles even described the criminal activities of each politician in great detail.  This exercise by the newspapers served as the clarion call for arresting the specific politician.  Thus we saw investigative articles on Nazmul Huda, Salman Rahman, Salahuddin Kader Chowdhury, Tareq Rahman, Mosaddeq Falu, Sadek Hosain Khoka, and quite a few right hand men of BNP leaders such Giasuddin Mamun.  The law and order folks started to arrest the alleged garden variety criminals from four corners of the country and they did that with vengeance for three weeks and are still doing so diligently even though the government asked the police to go after the upper level criminals leaving the puny ones.  This news of arresting the national-level politicians on the ground of their involvement in criminal activities signals a new initiative by the Fakhruddin Administration.

More and more we expect to hear the news of arrest of the prominent ministers and politicians as the time passes by.  To be fair and square the interim government will arrest politicians from both BNP and AL.  However, the analysts in Dhaka expect to see more BNP politicians to be incarcerated.  The criminal activities were condoned so much so by the past governments that anti-social elements found it necessary to join politics to make quick bucks.  The plebeians saw this happening in broad daylight but they lacked power to protest as the criminal enterprise was getting embolden by political patronage.  Newspaper articles filled pages in the last five years on criminal activities by the ward commissioners in Dhaka.  It was a wild west like situation where the big and powerful guns settled street-level disputes concerning collecting tolls and whatnot?

The civil society is expecting more of the same from the interim government.  They think that this government has no connection to any political party; therefore, through military backing they may purge the society of crimes backed by politics.  There will be insatiable demand for arresting the top guns of political parties who wrongly thought that they are untouchable.  With politics as usual taking the backseat now they seem to be vulnerable.  I am sure many of the vile politicians will spend many a sleepless night thinking when the sword of Damocles will fall on their fragile neck. 

The most unanswered question in the mind of common folks is � will the government prosecute the arrested politicians to the fullest extent of the law?  Action would speak louder than words, unquestionably. 

Dating back to 1958 we have seen this charade played over and over.  The military-backed government assumes the power and to win the cheap popularity contest they arrest hoarders, dishonest and greedy businessmen, and of course politicians of all hues.  But as the time progresses, the military establishment and their supporters from the civil society fill the vacuum and get involve in criminal activities.  This happened during the past four putsches done by military in 1958, 1969, 1976, and 1982.  Will this happen one more time?  I have no glib answer but only time will tell whether this is a stopgap measure or the beginning of the end of politically-backed criminal activities in Sonar Bangla.


Dr. A.H. Jaffor Ullah, a researcher and columnist, writes from New Orleans