National, Front Page

Second round of cleansing drive begins

Published : 25 Feb 2020 08:49 PM | Updated : 07 Sep 2020 07:00 PM

Law enforcement agencies have begun the ‘second round’ of countrywide cleansing operation against the leaders and activists of the ruling Awami League and its associate bodies who are involved in crimes. Sources close to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said she has already instructed all the law enforcement agencies not to show any sort of sympathy to the controversial ruling party men.

They said intelligence agencies have already drawn up a list of around 200 leaders of the ruling party and its associate bodies who are involved in various crimes. The measure against expelled Jubo Mohila League leader Shamima Noor Papia Chowdhury alias Peu, is the beginning of the second-phase cleansing operation against the leaders and activists still involved in various crimes, intelligence sources said.
Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) arrested Papia Chowdhury, general secretary of Narsingdi Zila Jubo Mahila League, a font of the ruling party for young women, on Saturday over her suspected links to sex trade in luxurious hotel.

The elite police unit has taken her on 15-day remand for grilling her over the crimes she committed while Jubo Mohila League has expelled her for ‘breaching organisational discipline’. Talking to Bangladesh Post, AL central organising secretary Ahmad Hossain, who oversees party activities in Chattogram said, “Our supreme leader Sheikh Hasina has zero tolerance to corruption.”

Responding to a question, he said, “Drives against corruption are a continuous process.” He said that in the recent AL working committee meeting at the Prime Minister’s official residence Gonobhaban there was discussion about intensifying cleansing drives inside the party. Earlier, during the anti-casino and anti-corruption drives that law enforcement agencies dubbed the first phase of cleansing operation, a number of high-profile leaders of Jubo League, AL’s youth front were arrested.

According to sources in Awami League, the drives that began in September last year were the first message to the offenders. They said that ignoring the message of the government high-ups, some leaders and activists were again involved in illegal activities which was ultimately damaging the image of the party.

Several law enforcement agencies updated their lists of the ruling party men continuously committing crimes and submitted them to the high-ups. After getting the information, the government high-ups again instructed the law enforcement agencies to launch fresh drives against the controversial leaders and activists.

“But the second-phase cleansing drives will be somewhat different from the first phase,” said a sources requesting anonymity. According to the RAB officials, they learned about Papia’s criminal activities while investigating arrested casino don Selim Prodhan, online casino kingpin.

After the arrest of Selim Prodhan, his associate Papia and others went into hiding for a few days, they said adding that Papia kept her sex trade and blackmailing stopped for a few days to avoid arrest. The RAB officials said Papia had been blackmailing businessmen and government officials at her own den, but in a bid to dodge the law enforcers, she started her sex trade renting luxurious suites in city’s five start hotels.

Following information of the crimes, RAB kept her under their strict surveillance. Sensing trouble, she was attempting to leave the country. But RAB finally picked her up. Sources said Papia threatened RAB officers claiming that she has strong connections with dozens of influential persons.

But RAB officers did not pay heed to her threats as the operation was conducted as per directives of the high-ups. RAB officers said they are investigating extensively to know the godfathers of Papia. Sources claimed that more than 50 highly influential people were communicating with Papia. RAB has already obtained the phone call lists.

Sujoy Sarkar, assistant superintendent of police (ASP) who works in RAB Legal and Media Wing said, “Since the investigation is going on, I cannot say anything about it.” Party insiders said AL president Sheikh Hasina had several times ordered stern action against the party leaders involved in crimes. But for reasons unknown, most of the controversial leaders were untouched.

Recently in a party meeting, the chief of the AL again warned some central leaders against patronising controversial leaders. She also ordered the home minister to inform her about those who will lobby to release controversial party leaders whenever they are arrested.