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2 February, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 2 February, 2019 01:37:11 AM
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Anti-drug drives

Dealers, peddlers opt to surrender

SAUGATO BOSU, Dhaka
Dealers, peddlers opt to surrender

With the government tightening its net around drug dealers and peddlers, a large number have chosen to surrender before the law enforcement agencies. The drug dealers, mostly Yaba traders, have preferred to surrender to the law enforcement agencies as the harsh government crackdown on them since last year has made them opt to stay in jail for their own safety.

According to unverified media reports, a total of 66 listed drug dealers and peddlers have decided to surrender to police and the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) since the beginning of this year. Before the formal surrender, they are allegedly being kept in ‘safe houses’. All these peddlers live in Teknaf in the south-eastern corner of the country.

Data with the home ministry disclosed that there are a total of 1,151 listed drug dealers in the country. Of them, 912 live in Teknaf. More than 90 per cent of the supplies of the Yaba drug enters Bangladesh through this upazila.

Police and RAB sources said with the voluntary surrenders of these drug dealers, the scope of finding a relatively peaceful solution to the drug epidemic in the country has been created.

Meanwhile, rights body, Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), said, “A total of 466 people have been killed in countrywide anti-drug raids conducted by law enforcement agencies between May 4 and December 31 last year.”

ABM Masud Hossain, superintendent of police (SP) of Cox’s Bazaar, told The Independent that the persons, who are in the surrendering process, are no ordinary peddlers or drug dealers.

“They are big businessmen who have direct links with the Yaba dealers of Myanmar. They have been given the opportunity to surrender before us,” he said.

As Masud explained, most of the cases earlier were filed against petty drug dealers. “It’s hard to catch the drug kingpins as in most cases, there is no evidence against them. That’s why we have created the provision wherein they can opt for voluntary surrender,” he said.

Masud, however, refused to disclose the number of the drug dealers who have surrendered as of now. “We will hold a press conference in mid-February and will disclose the number then,” he said.

Meanwhile, according to media reports, a total of 16 drug peddler were killed in “gunfights” with the law enforcement officials in the first three weeks January. Of them, four dealers were killed in gunfights with the police. All those killed in the gunfights were petty drug dealers and there were cases against them with the police.

When asked, the Cox’s Bazar SP said, “We never announced that our drive against drugs has stopped. Our drive is ongoing and, during a drive, gunfights might take place if the law enforcers come under attack.”

Police sources said several smugglers have contacted the law enforcement agencies as they want to surrender.

The police official said the anti-drug drive will continue even after the end of the surrender period. “It’s an ongoing war against drugs.”

When asked about allegations against some members of police that they are intentionally not capturing some drug godfathers and also giving protection to them in some “safe homes”, Masud said, “I would love to see some photo or evidence of those safe homes.”

Nazrul Islam Sikder, additional director (operations) of the Department of Narcotics Control (DNC), said they are monitoring the surrender process of the drug peddlers in Teknaf.

“At this point, it is difficult for us to comment on the issue as we are not directly involved with it. But we can say that this surrender process will facilitate the ongoing drive against drugs.”

Recently, Teknaf Sadar upazila parishad member Enamul Haque surrendered to the police after making an announcement in Facebook. The police said he has over a dozen cases against him.

The development came just a week after former Cox’s Bazar-4 lawmaker Abdur Rahman Badi, who is also alleged to be linked to Yaba trade, asked Yaba traders at Teknaf and Ukhia upazila to surrender within five days. On January 11, the former MP had asked the listed drug traders to surrender within the deadline or face terrible consequences. He also urged them to communicate with him, saying he would help them surrender.

Last year, Abdul Rahman Bodi faced massive criticism for his alleged involvement in the Yaba trade.Later, the AL nominated his wife, Shahin Akhter, for the Cox’s Bazar-4 parliamentary constituency, instead of him, to contest the 11th national elections. Securing a win, Shahin Akhter is now the lawmaker from Cox’s Bazar-4.

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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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