Old Dhaka residents describe Erfan Selim as ‘quiet but a patron of rowdy hordes’

  • Kamal Talukder, Senior Correspondent, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2020-10-29 09:58:33 BdST

Erfan Selim was “not so unruly, but he always had a group of rowdy associates on his tail”, the residents of Old Dhaka say as the news of the jailing of the son of MP Haji Mohammad Selim took many by surprise.

A Rapid Action Battalion-run mobile court sentenced Erfan, the second son of Selim, to one year in prison for unlawful possession of arms and liquor after a raid on their house.

It came after a naval officer, Lt Md Wasif Ahmed Khan, accused Erfan and his associates of assaulting him after their car collided with Wasif’s motorcycle in Dhanmondi, A video of the incident lit up social media, sparking public outrage.

MP Haji Mohammad Selim's house in Devdas Lane at Old Dhaka's Soari Ghat where the Rapid Action Battalion conducted a raid on Monday, Oct 26, 2020.

MP Haji Mohammad Selim's house in Devdas Lane at Old Dhaka's Soari Ghat where the Rapid Action Battalion conducted a raid on Monday, Oct 26, 2020.

Haji Selim, who retained influence by using muscle power for a long time, owns a fortune. Erfan is a director of Haji Selim’s Madina Group. Erfan’s father-in-law Ekramul Karim Chowdhury is also an MP.

The sort of crime that landed Erfan in jail was nothing new for his associates who accompanied him on motorcycles, locals say.

People from the low-income bracket were often beaten by the cohorts of Erfan for obstructing their movement through the narrow lanes of Old Dhaka, the residents said.

The Rapid Action Battalion cordons off the house of MP Haji Mohammad Selim in Old Dhaka's Soari Ghat after a case was started against his son, Erfan Selim, for assaulting a naval officer. Photo: Mahmud Zaman Ovi

The Rapid Action Battalion cordons off the house of MP Haji Mohammad Selim in Old Dhaka's Soari Ghat after a case was started against his son, Erfan Selim, for assaulting a naval officer. Photo: Mahmud Zaman Ovi

All of the locals spoke to bdnews24.com on the condition of anonymity fearing repercussion.

“The Dhanmondi incident has not happened suddenly. It happened because they beat up some people in this neighbourhood,” said a man residing in Chawkbazar.

Erfan returned home seven years ago after studying business administration in Canada, according to a Madani Group official.

The MP’s son had been living in the area quietly until before the city corporation elections he fought and won as an independent councillor candidate in February.

“He used to stay at home and sometimes exploded firecrackers on the rooftop of Ashik Tower. He also used to enjoy the moments before Eid-ul-Azha with sacrificial animals,” said a businessman of Chawkbazar.

Erfan Selim

Erfan Selim

He said Erfan carelessly kept three cows on the street in front of Ashik Tower before Eid-ul-Azha, impeding traffic while exploding firecrackers on the rooftop.

“He was a bit careless. He used to travel with a convoy of motorcycles,” said the businessman.

Another businessman said he saw the people with Erfan beating a milk vendor, an egg seller and a fruit trader on the street in front of the Shahi Mosque around one and a half months ago for obstructing their path.

“Erfan wouldn’t take part in the assault directly, but he appeared drunk,” the businessman said.

“He is a good boy. He studied abroad and cannot speak Bangla properly. He used to stay at home. But his association made him bad,” he added.

The Rapid Action Battalion's Executive Magistrate Sarwoer Alam conducts a raid on MP Haji Mohammad Selim's house at Soari Ghat's Devdas Lane, Oct 26, 2020.

The Rapid Action Battalion's Executive Magistrate Sarwoer Alam conducts a raid on MP Haji Mohammad Selim's house at Soari Ghat's Devdas Lane, Oct 26, 2020.

The businessman identified one of the associates of Erfan as Selim Babu, but he was unavailable on his mobile phone when bdnews24.com tried to reach him for comments about the allegations of unruliness.

A businessman in the Mitford Hospital area said Erfan was better than other councillors.

“He didn’t harass us (businesses), but the way he roamed about was not so good, probably because he is young,” he said.      

He also blamed Erfan’s associates for his jailing.

Another resident of the area said Erfan would be surrounded by people who used to accompany Haji Selim.

The RAB recovered a hockey stick, a large knife, handcuffs, rope and some other materials that it said were used for torture at Ashik Tower.

The Rapid Action Battalion's Executive Magistrate Sarwoer Alam conducts a raid on MP Haji Mohammad Selim's house at Soari Ghat's Devdas Lane, Oct 26, 2020.

The Rapid Action Battalion's Executive Magistrate Sarwoer Alam conducts a raid on MP Haji Mohammad Selim's house at Soari Ghat's Devdas Lane, Oct 26, 2020.

A man doing business in a market next to Ashik Tower, however, does not believe that Erfan had tortured people.

“He is a little bit childish and may drink liquor, but we'd have heard something had he done something like this,” the businessman said.

Chawkbazar Police Station OC Moudut Howlader said no one had complained about being beaten by Erfan or his accompanies.

The residents of the area said the alleged victims of assault by Erfan’s associates could not gather the courage to lodge formal complaints considering the money and power of Haji Selim.

Bottles of liquor were seized from the home of MP Haji Mohammad Selim's son Erfan Selim, Oct 26, 2020.

Bottles of liquor were seized from the home of MP Haji Mohammad Selim's son Erfan Selim, Oct 26, 2020.

One of them said: “Those who were slapped on the street are innocent people. And who doesn’t know Haji Selim?”       

Erfan had done some good work as councillor, said “Maruf”, a resident of Chhoto Katara.

“Chompatoli United”, an organisation formed by Erfan, had helped the poor during the coronavirus lockdown and it still distributes free meals every Friday, Maruf said.

Erfan also took part in a campaign to kill mosquitos in the area, he added.