POST TIME: 21 October, 2019 10:47:35 AM
24 councillors under law enforcers’ scanner

24 councillors under law enforcers’ scanner

The Detective Branch (DB) of police is keeping an eye on the activities of 24 councillors for their alleged involvement in extortion, drug dealing and other criminal activities.

The government has already started investigating local complaints made against them about their alleged involvement in such illegal activities. Special arrangements have also been cautiously taken so that none of them can suddenly leave the country.

Meanwhile, members of the agency responsible will seek assistance from the two city mayors to probe the irregularities and corruption on the part of councillors. The two mayors have said on different occasions that they were ready to assist any kind of purification campaign.

On the other hand, the officials concerned said that they were not merely monitoring 24 councillors, they were also monitoring the activities of the other councillors as well. In a new development, the Local Government Division has removed AKM Mominul Haque Sayeed, a councillor of the Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) of Ward No. 9—the Arambagh Krira Sangha chief—from his post on charges of being absent from meetings of the city corporation and for going abroad without permission from the ministry.

However, different sources said he has fled to Singapore. After his involvement in the illegal casino business was revealed, he has not come back to the country fearing arrest.

In another development, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) has already arrested Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) councillor of Ward No. 32, Habibur Rahman Mizan, and DNCC councillor of Ward No. 33, Tarequzzaman Rajib, on charges of being involved in money laundering, extortion and land grabbing, and mostly for being allegedly involved in the casino business.

Sources at the two city corporations said on condition of anonymity that though they have sent a list of councillors to the local government ministry on account of their absences from the meetings of the city corporations, most of them have faced allegations of being involved in casino-related activities, extortion and other misdeeds.

The sources also said like Sayeed, some other councillors would be removed for their absence from the meetings though other allegations have been levelled against them.

DSCC councillors of Wards 4, 5, 9, 12, 13, 18, 19, 22, 28, 30, 32, 33, 39, 40, 43 and 52 were also absent at board meetings on several occasions.

Some were absent from 15 of 19 meetings. But the decision for legal action was taken only against AKM Mominul Sayed.

Sources added that 14 councillors from the DSCC and 10 councillors from the DNCC were under surveillance.

Some are accused of being absent from work at a stretch for a long period. In addition, they have reportedly shown apathy towards discharging their duties. Locals allege that many of them have shown little involvement in dealing with citizens’ problems.

At least half a dozen ward councillors in Mirpur are currently under intelligence surveillance. Two of these ward councillors are accused in the murder case.

The Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) has some of these widely-discussed ward councillors, who allegedly possess crores as they have obtained the money through different illegal activities even though they get an allowance of just Tk. 36,000 per month each.

About the allegations, DSCC mayor Sayeed Khokon recently said, “If any councillor engages in unlawful activities, he will be brought under the law. We are ready to assist investigation teams in this regard.”

The ministry says that if the city corporation lodges a complaint, the higher authorities will take note of it.

The minister for local government, rural development and cooperatives, Md Tajul Islam, told The Independent that they have received a complaint against a councillor and removed him from his post.

“If we get complaints against others, we can then investigate,” he said over phone. Asked whether or not the two DNCC councillors will be removed as they have been arrested by the RAB, he said, “If the law enforcement agency makes a complaint against the councillors, then action will be taken against them.”