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8 September, 2019 12:15:09 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 8 September, 2019 04:15:36 PM
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Gang culture new cause of concern

Saugato Bosu, Dhaka
Gang culture new cause of concern

Some recent incidents of crime and violence in the country involving mostly teenagers and young adults have shed light on a new cause of concern for the society – the spread of teenage gang culture. The nation was stunned watching the horrific scene of Rifat Sharif being hacked to death in front of his wife at Barguna on June 26, a video of which went viral in social media. Rifat was killed by a group of youths, some of them teenagers. The group has styled itself after the fictional Hollywood spy, James Bond, and adopted his famous code name, "007".

Like the "007" gang, there are many other gangs of young people operating in the capital and also in districts, according to police and other sources. They routinely get involved in crimes like drug dealing, extortion, rape and even murder.  

Activities of teen gangs in the capital came to light after the murder of Adnan Kabir, a teenage gang member, in early 2017. Adnan was a member of the "Nine Star" gang and a resident of Uttara. He was hacked to death by members of his rival group, "Disco Boys", on January 6 that year.

These incidents sparked serious concern over the spread of "gang culture" in the country and the involvement of youths in crime. The murders brought to light a new feature of our society —following the pattern of the Western cultures, teenage and youth gangs are taking shape in Bangladesh.

A clampdown by law enforcers caused the gangs to go into hiding, and no such crime was reported for quite some time. However, in the course of time, they

started reorganizing, and are seen committing crimes for the last few months.

On September 4, a schoolboy was stabbed to death and three of his friends were injured, as two rival teen-gangs clashed.

The dead were Mohsin Ali, a ninth grader, and the injured are Rubel, Rakib and Sabbir. They injured were admitted to different hospitals after the fight in Mohammadpur.

On July 1, Yasin Arafat, 16, a member of the "Love Lane" gang, was killed in a fight with "Bangla Group" in Hazaribagh.

On May 14, Anmain Adil, 17, was stabbed to death, allegedly by a teen-gang, in the Karnaphuli Paper House area of Safari upazilla, in Cumilla. The victim's family alleged that four members of the gang, "Eagle Group", attacked Adil and stabbed him indiscriminately.

On March 21, Kamrul Hassan Hridoy, an eighth grader, was killed over a dispute between two teenage groups in the Uttarkhan area.

After the incident, RAB arrested one person. Hridoy was killed as his gang, "Big Boss", exchanged heated words with members of the rival "Kashmiri Group".

Law enforcement personnel even launched a crackdown against youths engaged in criminal activities across Dhaka city.

Law enforcers take tough stance

Recently, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) detained members of teenage gangs from different parts of the capital city. In the last one month, more than 250 teenage gang members, adolescents and young adults, have been arrested and sent to juvenile detention facilities and prisons.  

The RAB sources told The Independent that the elite force has so far detained around 400 members of the teenage gang in the last three year. This year alone, they detained a total of 190 of such juvenile delinquents.

In August, RAB arrested 17 members of the first teenage gangs. They were arrested from Mohammadpur, Adabar and Sher-e-Bangla.

Police detained over 100 teenagers and youths during drives against teen gangs in Dhaka on Friday. They were detained from different places under Hatirjheel police station in drives conducted following complaints from parents and guardians.

Gangs active in capital

Over time, the teenage gangs have become active in different parts of the city, including Uttara, Abdullahpur, Tongi, Uttarkhan, Dakhankhan, Badda, Gulshan, Banani, Khilgaon, Rampura, Dhanmondi, Rayerbazar, Mirpur, Mohammadpur.  Most of them are aged between 14 and 19 and they are involved in various petty crimes like ever-teasing, mugging and drug abuse.

At least 50-60 gangs are active now, according to law enforcers. Some of them are working in grocery stores, tea shops, various markets and offices after dropping out from schools. They get together and enjoy the leisure time. Each group has different tag marks. The use of special words at the end of the names of some members of the group, the same haircut, the same kind of clothing, the same kind of shoes, tattoos on a particular part of the body. Also, many group members carry knives or blades. These gang members often ride motorbikes in groups recklessly with loud honking and paint graffiti in different walls of their areas, said police and locals.

In Mirpur, teenage and youth gangs are involved in conflict in the name of seniority -- “Boro bhai and Chhoto bhai”. Sometimes their clashes turn into major issues in the neighbourhood. The police have filed multiple cases.

In Vashantek, there is a different kind of gang culture. Some groups are using slum teens and young people for selling drugs. Many of them carry weapons.

There are eight groups active in Uttara, according to sources.

In Dhanmondi-Mohammadpur area operates the "Lara Dee" and "Star Bond" gangs. These gangs are again divided into four groups.

In Khilgaon-Motijheel, there are 3-5 groups, according to police.

In Jatrabari and Old City, the Fahim Mehdi and Jummon gangs are actively involved in various crimes.

Three gangs are active in Jahangirnagar University (JU) on the outskirts of the capital. They are present in Kalabagan, Aambagan, and Rangamati areas of Jahangirnagar University. The groups consist of students.

The JU authorities have formed a committee to identify the gang members, and what kinds of crimes are being committed by them.

Gangs outside Dhaka

According to local sources, 20-25 teenage gangs are active in Chittagong, Sylhet and Khulna. Most of them are involved in criminal activities. These teenagers are often exposed to violence. Chittagong city has at least six gangs.

In Comilla city, teenage gangs are active in the Nazrul Avenue Road area. Some seven to eight gangs have established a reign of terror in Sylhet city’s Upashahar, Tilagarh, Madina Market, Taltola, Tuker Bazar, South Surma and Biani Bazar.

What experts say?

Dhaka University's (DU)’s Social Science Faculty Professor, Sadeka Halim, said the teenage gang culture is now an international phenomenan. Breakdown of society and the tendency to go to the centre of power is the main reason for the gang culture.

She thinks political parties actually patronize them. She added that textbook education is now incomplete and due to this, hatred towards other religions and humiliation of women are increasing. And in terms of this, basic social declines are created.

Now, as ever, there is a lack of natural entertainment that makes teenagers a gang where they take to anti-social activities. Building awareness among parents is the key to solving the problem.

Law enforcement agencies must give counseling to the gang members, and their guardians to help them get back to normal life.

Stance of the law enforcers

Asaduzzaman Mia, Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Commissioner said we will conduct drives and eradicate all gangs. "There will be no existence of any teenage gangs."

"Teenage gangs or large gangs, there will be no gangs in Dhaka. Every gang will be eradicated from Dhaka. DMP has taken zero tolerance policy against the gang culture. There will be no gang culture in Dhaka."

Sarwar Alam, magistrate of RAB, told The Independent that this gang concept has been created because of the lack of family bonding, dropping out of school and college education and mixing with bad company.

When asked whether they are politically connected, the RAB official said not all of them. But in many cases, traces of political connections are found. Mostly the "boro bhai" (big brother) of the locality gives them shelter.

"We are conducting drives against these gangs every day. We hope their influence will be on the wane very soon. But they have to be approached by the families as well, to bring them on the right path again."

Lt. Col. Mozammel Haque, Additional Deputy Inspector General and Commanding Officer (CO) of RAB-4, said: “Most of them are involved in gangs with intention of showing heroism. As they help each other in crisis moments, they think maintaining a gang is a must. They are teenagers. They don’t know what is right and what is wrong. The problem can’t be cured only by our efforts. Parents should also come forward.”

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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