Casino king Samrat plans to flee country
Samrat has been holed up in his office since Wednesday
A few days ago, Ismail Hossain Chowdhury Samrat, president of Dhaka City Jubo League's South Unit, was a free man, throwing his weight around as an influential politician.
Wherever he went, he would be surrounded by hundreds of activists.
However, following the arrest of Jubo League leader Khalid Mahmud Bhuiyan on Wednesday for running illegal gambling operations, Samrat has been holed up in his personal office.
His main goal, now, is to flee Bangladesh, before law enforcement gather enough evidence to apprehend him.
Jubo League activists and law enforcement sources informed that Samrat had originally tried to go abroad last Wednesday, but police intercepted him at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, and brought him back.
Law enforcement sources also claimed that Samrat has been desperately trying to flee the country since the casino crackdown began.
"At first, he tried to convince law enforcement agencies, and then spoke to senior political leaders, but his requests were denied. Now he is trying to leave under the false pretense of a medical check-up," said an official from Dhaka Metropolitan Police's (DMP) Ramna division.
Speaking to The Business Standard over the phone, Samrat said: "I have a heart condition. I had undergone a critical surgery in Singapore last year, where they fitted me with a pace-maker. I need a medical check-up every month, so I need to go abroad."
He also claimed that he was not hiding in his office, as many people are speculating, adding that he would always spend most of his time there.
Asked why he had not left his office since Wednesday night, he said that he was sick and there were no events or activities for him to attend at the time.
Prior to the raids that began on Wednesday, Samrat was usually busy meeting his followers, attending party seminars, processions and programmes, and arbitrating various disputes.
On the night of the raid, Samrat hid in his office, and was surrounded by over hundreds of his activists to prevent law enforcement from arresting him.
Later at midnight, Jubo League activists cordoned off the building and chanted slogans praising Samrat. They spent the whole night in front of the building to protect their leader.
However, that initial surge of loyalty has dwindled since then, as the number of followers and activists cordoning off his office building is slowly decreasing.
Jubo league sources said the same thing is also happening in front of his Gulshan residence.
"Before the raids, thousands of people came to see him every day. But now, everyone is scared to meet him," said a Jubo League activist, wishing to remain unnamed.
Nobody is allowed inside the Jubo League leader's office in an eight-storied building in Kakarail, known as the Samrat Building.
Samrat has been stuck on the fourth floor of the building, said police sources.
The few remaining Jubo League activists in front of the building and around its premises, are preventing anybody from going inside to meet him, including journalists.
"We are checking everyone who wants to meet him and we will protect him at any cost. Nobody can harm him -- neither the police, nor RAB," said an activist stationed outside the bulding.
They said Samrat is quite frustrated with his current living situation. Around 20-30 followers are lodging with him in the office to protect him and cook for him.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal has said that anybody involved in illegal activities will not be spared.
When asked about allegations against Samrat, he also said that if police find any proof against him, he will be arrested.
Law enforcement sources said that Samrat is currently under surveillance and could be arrested soon.