Just five months ago, the Rapid Action Battalion raided the home of casino brother duo and seized Tk5 crore in cash, 7.5 kilograms of gold jewellery.
Five months later they seized more yesterday. This time Tk26.55 crore in cash, 1kg gold jewellery, FDR worth Tk5.15 crore and casino equipment.
It sounds like a story from a fantasy film.
As if the brothers Enamul Haque Enu and Rupon Bhuiyan got a magic lamp. The Genie emerged from it and gave them dozens of vaults full of money and gold jewellery and every other thing they desired.
But, this is a real life story. The story about the brothers who emerged to be the lords of casino business and amassed huge wealth from the illegal trade.
Only a few months ago, they were leaders of the ruling Awami League's Dhaka city unit. They had learnt how to abuse their political power to turn it into the mythical Aladdin's magic lamp. They were successful enormously.
They however fell from the grace. They were on the run to avert arrest, but failed. They landed in jail last month and were expelled from the party.
After their arrest, they confessed to buying 100 flats and 22 homes since the 2000s using their ill-gotten wealth. Buying flats and homes was the duo's addiction.
If the recovery of their illegal wealth is analogous to the seizure of drugs, then only 10 percent of their wealth has been recovered.
Their rise as the lords of casino goes against the fundamental principle of the state policy as our constitution clearly says the state shall endeavour to create conditions in which, as a general principle, persons shall not be able to enjoy unearned incomes.
The way the brother duo earned illegal money by running casino also runs counter to another fundamental principle of the state policies that says, "The State shall adopt effective measures to prevent prostitution and gambling."
But, the way the brother duo ran gambling and amassed fortunes has mocked those fundamental principles.
Being citizens of the country, they were entitled to enjoy the same equal advantages and legal protection like all other citizens.
But they were more than equals among the equals. Is it because of their political affiliation?
For this unusual culture, we may put the whole blame on the police as every police officer is duty bound to stop running illegal casinos. The criminal laws empower them with immense authorities to take necessary actions to curb illegal gambling. This is from the legal point of view. But from the political perspective, the reality is different.
The illegal casino trade had been going on at the city's sporting clubs for years. The police were aware of it, too.
Why did the police refrain from performing their legal duty then?
The math is simple. The police were unable to act against gambling as powerful leaders of the ruling party's front organisations were running those casinos. So, they remained silent. Their professionalism was compromised.
But they were not held accountable for their failure to perform a legal duty. In this context, not only Jubo League men, but police officials were also above the law. Moreover, the smell of money made the police officials intoxicated. So, the game was going on unhindered.
The situation took a dramatic turn in September last year. Upon directives from the government high-ups, the police cracked down on the casino kingpins. Some Jubo League leaders were arrested for their involvement with the casino business. They were later expelled from the party. Thanks to the drive, we came to know about their huge wealth.
The busting casino saga exposes the fact that excessive abuse of the police by successive governments has destroyed the professionalism of the organisation. They cannot act independently in most cases if they find involvement of ruling party men in an incident.
The story of other institutions is no different. With the police starting the crackdown following the prime minister's directives in September 2019, two other institutions – the Bangladesh Bank and the National Board of Revenue – woke up, too. The central bank froze the bank accounts of some Jubo League leaders accused of running unlawful casinos, extortion and tender manipulation. The central revenue agency started scrutinising their tax records to know the sources of their incomes.
The actions they have now taken were supposed to have been taken earlier as per the laws.
All the characters in the casino saga should have been found in the story of a fantasy film. But, I'm afraid they are very real – from our real life.