POST TIME: 2 October, 2019 12:14:32 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 2 October, 2019 12:54:27 PM
AL leaders ‘divided’ over possible arrest of Samrat
Abu Jakir, Dhaka

AL leaders ‘divided’ over possible arrest of Samrat

The prospect of arrest of alleged casino kingpin and Juba League leader Ismail Hossain Chowdhury Samrat has created a division among the senior Awami League leaders, party insiders said. They said a section of AL leaders want Samrat, president of Dhaka South unit of Juba League, arrested immediately to retain the party’s bright image while others said Samrat should be spared for his ‘role in strengthening’ the party’s associate youth body.

Some mid-ranking AL leaders are happy with the latest drive against corrupt leaders and activists of the party and its associate bodies. They think anyone involved in illegal activities should be arrested, be it Samrat or any other leader. Some party top leaders fear their names may come up in the ongoing drive against corruption and different illegal activities across the country.

These leaders feel Samrat is their own man and not an intruder. Moreover, he (Samrat) played an important role in strengthening the Awami Juba League, an associate organisation of the ruling party, they say. A leader from this group, who wanted not to be named, said: “Samrat is a good organiser and he should be pardoned this time.”

He added: “But such drives against corruption is good for the party, as well as for the country.”

When contacted, AL joint general secretary, Abdur Rahman said: “I won’t make any comment over Samrat’s arrest. If law enforcers think he is guilty, they can arrest him.”

Many think law enforcers are dithering over the arrest of Samrat as they have not got the party higher-up’s nod as yet.

Moreover, several influential people of the ruling party are also backing Samrat.   

According to members of law enforcement agencies, they are keeping a close watch over Samrat’s movement following the drive which began on September 18, and the arrest of Jubo League leaders Khaled Mahmud Bhuiyan and S.M. Golam Kibria Shamim.

Speaking on Samrat’s arrest, home minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal has said it will be clear soon whether Samrat will be arrested or not. “You’ve to wait for a few days to see the development,” he told reporters after his comment was sought on the matter.

Speaking over the issue yesterday, AL general secretary Obaidul Quader said the government didn’t want to take any hasty decision over the arrest of Samrat.

“There is no need to take any hasty decision. Wait and see," he said this while briefing media at his secretariat office.   Quader, who is also road transport and bridges minister, said no one involved in corruption would be spared and drives against them would continue.

“Action will be taken against anyone involved in such activities across the country. Drives are on and everyday someone or the other is being arrested,” he added.

However, party insiders said the decision over Samrat’s arrest would be taken within a day or two as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina returned home yesterday from New York, after attending the 74th UN General Assembly session. They think Prime Minister Hasina will give instructions to law enforcers over the ongoing drive against corruption as well as on Samrat’s arrest.

Sources said Samrat was involved in running casino business in five clubs, including Mohammedan Sporting Club, Arambag Krira Sangha, Dilkusha Sporting Club, Victoria Sporting Club and Wonderers Club.

On September 14, at a meeting of the Awami League Central Working Committee (ALCWC), Sheikh Hasina had decided to take stern action against party leaders and workers involved in corruption and irregularities.

At that meeting, Hasina, who is also the organisational chief of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), removed its president Rezwanul Haque Chowdhury Shovon and general secretary Golam Rabbani from their posts because of their alleged involvement in graft and various irregularities. She also expressed her annoyance with some Jubo League leaders and slammed them for their illegal activities.