Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Mixed reactions in Jubo League to Samrat’s arrest

  • Kazi Mobarak Hossain, bdnews24.com
    Published: 2019-10-07 04:44:28 BdST

Some in the Jubo League have expressed anger over the arrest and expulsion of their leader Ismail Hossain Chowdhury Samrat while some others are satisfied.

The angry ones say the “devoted” leader had led the organisation during movements and times of struggle while those speaking against him do not come in handy in bad times.

The others hope such arrests and expulsions of wrongdoers will remove Jubo League’s infamy as an organisation of extorters and tender-grabbers.

Samrat, the president of the organisation’s Dhaka Metropolitan South unit, was arrested on Sunday early morning in Cumilla along with vice president Enamul Hoque Arman over their link to illegal casino operations in the capital.

The ruling Awami League had to depend on Samrat, though he is the leader of only a unit of its youth front, for turnouts in its rallies in recent years.

Samrat was always seen leading a huge number of supporters to the programmes as his unit was recognised as the best of the organisation.

After party chief Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed ire over reports of Jubo League leaders’ wrongdoings, the law enforcers raided sporting clubs in the capital and arrested Jubo League leader Khaled Mahmud Bhuiyan and Krishak League leader Shafiqul Alam Firoz for operating casinos in the clubs.

Controversial businessmen SM Golam Kibria Shamim and Salim Prodhan, and Mohammedan club boss Lokman Hossain Bhuiyan were also arrested.

Samrat’s name came up in the investigation into the casinos from the very beginning of the crackdown as stories of Jubo League leaders’ involvement in extortion and contract-grabbing continued to swirl.

Amid different sorts of speculations, Samrat had took position with hundreds of supporters at his office in Kakrail last month, but went into hiding later.

Finally, after his arrest, the RAB escorted him to his office and recovered a huge amount of foreign liquor, yaba tablets, a pistol and two kangaroo hides. A mobile court sentenced him to six months in jail for violation of wildlife law.   

Samrat was the exclusive user of the nine-storey office building styled Bhuiyan Trade Centre always crowded by Jubo League leaders and activists.

But the crowds thinned away gradually after the crackdown started.

When he was brought to the office on Sunday, a handful of Jubo League activists gathered outside the nearby shops.

They raised slogans in his support when the RAB took him out after the drive around 7pm.

Police and RAB personnel, caught by surprise, charged baton to disperse the activists and detained three.

The detainees were mere supporters with no post in Jubo League, Ramna Police Station OC Mainul Islam told bdnews24.com.

One of the leaders close to Samrat told bdnews24.com on condition of anonymity fearing

arrest that many have went into hiding after the crackdown started.

Another leader said: “It may be possible for the party to tackle any violence by the opposition with the help of the administration, but if it loses power by chance, it will feel the need for fighters like Samrat.”      

“You can’t do politics with the members of the civil society. You’ll need mega-fighters (sic) like Samrat Bhai for politics. I feel bad to see such a leader, who devoted himself to the party, thrown out,” he said.   

RAB personnel stand guard during a raid on Jubo League leader Ismail Hossain Chowdhury Samrat's office in Dhaka's Kakrail on Sunday after his arrest over his links to illegal casino business. Photo: Mahmud Zaman Ovi

Samrat’s wife Shaqrmin Chowdhury also claimed the Jubo League always spent all the money he earned from casino business for the party and gambling.   

Some 500 leaders and activists gathered at their headquarters on Bangabandhu Avenue after a relative lull for two weeks.

One of them, central committee member Mohammad Ali Mintu condemned Samrat and others liked to casino business.

“The Jubo League office is in festive mood today. We have come here because we all are happy,” he said.

The activists beat up and drove out another central committee member, Nazmul Hossain Jewel, accusing him of infiltrating the organisation, he claimed.

“The same will be done to every intruder,” Mintu added.