Onlinedesk | 21 May 2018 | 11:07 am
More than 2,300 arrested in drives since Tuesday
At least six people were killed in separate ‘gunfight ‘incidents with law enforcement on Sunday during an aggressive campaign against the surging narcotics trade.
The incidents took place in Barishal, Feni, Mymensingh, Jashore, Dinajpur, and Tangail districts.
Law enforcement agencies have also arrested 2,300 suspected drug traffickers and users in raids since early May, according to a statement by Rapid Action battalion, reports AFP.
RAB officials said its forces had killed nine others since last week.
In Barishal, an unidentified member of a suspected drug trading gang was killed in an incident with a team of detectives at Bottola Bazar in Dakhshin Char Aicha village under sadar upazila.
Kaunia Police Station Officer-in-Charge Nurul Islam said, acting on a tip-off, a team of detectives went to the area around 3am. When the detectives reached the spot, the robbers opened fire on them.
In retaliation, they fired back, which left one of the robbers dead. The other suspected members of the gang managed to flee the scene.
Police also recovered a pipe gun, two sharp weapons, and eight rounds of bullets from the spot, the OC said.
During the incident, a sub-inspector and two constables were injured.
In Feni, a suspected drug dealer was killed in a gunfight with police in Pathan Nagar under Chhagalnaiya upazila.
The deceased is Alamgir Hossain Bhuiyan, of Paschim Pathan Gor area under the upazila.
Alamgir was accused in nine cases filed with Chhagalnaiya police station, which included drugs and arms charges, , Officer-in-Charge M Morshed said.
He said police conducted the drive at an abandoned house in the village around 1am.
Alamgir was declared dead when taken to Feni Sadar Hospital.
Police also recovered one pistol, three shotgun cartridges, 1,000 yaba tablets, and 100 bottles of Phensedyl from the house.
In Mymensingh, a suspected drug trader, Rajiul Hasan Biplob, 42, was killed around 2:30am in a reported gunfight with police at Gonshar intersection in the town.
The 45-year-old was accused in several cases.
In Jashore, a 35-year-old man identified as Dalim Hossain was killed in an alleged gunfight.
The incident occurred in Sujolpur village of Sadar upazila.
Kotwali police station OC Azmol Huda said the police recovered 500 yaba tablets, one shotgun, one bullet, and four shotgun cartridges from the scene.
In Dinajpur, a suspected drug dealer was killed in a gunfight with the police.
The incident, similar to all the others, occurred in Sardarpara area of Biral upazila.
Biral police station OC Abdul Majid said: “Drug dealer Babu, 45, was killed in the gunfight.”
The police recovered four cocktail bombs, two pistols, and 193 bottles of phensedyl.
In Tangail, a 22-year-old drug dealer named Emon was killed in a gunfight with the police.
The incident occurred near the Pushtokamuri Dakkhinpara bridge of Mirzapur upazila.
Two policemen were injured in the gunfight.
Mirzapur police station OC AKM Mizanul Haque said the body was sent to Tangail General Hospital morgue.
Government’s strong stance against narcotics
On Saturday, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said the government was following a zero tolerance policy toward preventing the proliferation of drugs.
“We are following a zero tolerance approach to drug abuse and drug peddling,” he said while addressing a program.
On May 3, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina directed the Rapid Action Battalion or RAB, to continue its drives against the menace of drug abuse.
“We have been able to achieve huge successes by conducting drives against extremism and militancy. Now, such drives will have to continue against drugs,” she said on the 14th founding anniversary of RAB.
Rights groups concerned
Police have vowed to stamp out drugs, most notably “yaba,” a popular pill made of caffeine and methamphetamine that is doing a roaring trade in Bangladesh.
The alleged dealers all died in what authorities described as gunfights, but parallels have been drawn to the Philippines where police have been accused of executing suspects.
“We have spoken to the families of some victims. They said the victims were killed extrajudicially,” said Odhikar director, Nasiruddin Elan.
Authorities have been struggling to control a huge surge in yaba crossing the southeastern border from Myanmar, where the pills are manufactured by the hundreds of millions.
Officials say the bulk of the drugs entering Bangladesh last year were brought by Rohingya refugees fleeing a military crackdown in Myanmar.
The drugs were being stashed on fishing boats bringing the persecuted civilians into Bangladesh. Some refugees were being used as mules, officials say.
Authorities last year seized a record 40 million yaba pills but said an estimated 250-300 million tablets managed to enter the market.
This year, nine million yaba tablets were seized in less than three months as the refugee influx reached its peak. Nearly two million pills were seized in a single haul.
A director at the narcotics control department predicted that $600 million worth of yaba could be sold on Bangladesh’s streets this year.