Bangladesh is determined to bring back top terror Zeesan alias Ali Akbar Chowdhury detained in Dubai directly from there instead of via India.
In Dhaka, the National Central Bureau (NCB) of Interpol – a cell established in each member country tasked with sharing criminal data and intelligence – has begun contacting the Dubai cell to start the deportation process, sources said.
Sources at the Dhaka NCB also said a team of the Bangladesh Police may go to Dubai soon for this purpose. Members from the NCB unit, the Detective Branch and the Transnational Crime Unit could join the team.
Zeesan was detained in Dubai in the first week of October with the assistance of Interpol.
The Detective Branch is keeping regular contact with the transnational police organisation – Interpol – for a smooth handover of Zeesan.
Another source from the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police said Zeesan would be deported with the permission of the Dubai police, and the Bangladesh Police will arrest him in Dhaka airport.
"We are trying to bring him back to the country following all legal procedures," said Sohel Rana, the assistant inspector general and spokesperson for the Bangladesh Police, in a press note.
But there is a complexity.
Bangladesh currently has an extradition treaty with only two countries – Thailand and India. It means the country will not get any help from Dubai under such treaty to bring back Zeesan, who has an Indian passport, to Dhaka directly.
"Actually, the Dubai police can send him back to his original passport authorities – India – if the two countries have one such treaty, and Bangladesh can then seek his extradition from India. But that will be a long process," said a Dhaka NCB police officer of the rank assistant superintendent.
Yet, if Dhaka wants to get him back directly from Dubai, there are two ways: the Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters Rules 2012 and direct deportation through diplomatic approach, said the officer.
Bangladesh definitely opts for the latter option, but Dhaka must address the Dubai National Central Bureau properly. That would be a diplomatic battle, he added.
Supporting this, a foreign ministry official said the Dubai police can hand him over to Dhaka when they will be satisfied with Bangladesh's request and the legal documents in support of Zeesan's crime records in Bangladesh.
Mohiul Islam, the assistant inspector general of the Dhaka central bureau, said Dubai arrested Zeesan at the request of the Bangladesh Police, and now it all depends on them how they will deport him to the legal authority in Bangladesh.
He confirmed to The Business Standard that the National Central Bureau in Dhaka has already started the process of bringing Zeesan back to the country.
"We have been trying to catch him for several years, and Interpol issued a red notice on Zeesan," said Mohiul Islam.
"We also provided various documents on crimes of Zeesan's allies in Bangladesh as per Interpol's requisition," he added.
Replying to a question, Mohiul said Dubai has confirmed that Zeesan has been arrested and Bangladesh has got a letter from them. "Dubai also said if Zeesan was involved in crimes and violation of laws in Bangladesh, he would be extradited."
Rise of Zeesan
According to Interpol, Zeesan was born in Dhaka's Khilgaon area in 1970.
He joined the 5 Star underworld gang in 1996. The group was led by Liakat. Zeesan came to prominence in the country's underworld scene, especially in Badda, Gulshan and Khilgaon areas, after 1999.
He used to extort and threaten people and kill people in exchange for money on behalf of the 5 Star group.
Sometime during 1996-1997, Zeesan was arrested but got released within a month. In 2001, after Liakat's death, he declared himself as the second-in-command of the gang.
On May 14, 2003, two police officials were killed during an operation to arrest Zeesan in Malibagh.
Zeesan left Bangladesh in 2005 during an anti-terror drive. He first went to India and then to Dubai.
In early October 2019, Zeesan was arrested in Dubai with passports of India and the Dominican Republic. On the Indian passport, he is identified as Ali Akbar Chowdhury from Malugarh, Silchar of Assam.
The passport was obtained from the Indian Embassy in Dubai in 2006.
He has car and restaurant businesses in Dubai.
But he still controlled the Bangladeshi underworld from there and extorted money from local criminals.
He also has relations with some Bangladeshi casino kingpins, including GK Shamim, Khaled Bhuiyan and Ismail Hossain Chowdhury Samrat.
According to sources, Shamim, Khaled and Samrat met Zeesan in Singapore in June this year.
But the relationship with Shamim and Zeesan deteriorated later.
On July 26, police arrested three cohorts of Zeesan named Khan Mohammad Foysal, Ziaul Abedin Jewel and Zahid Abedin Rubel from Khilgaon with firearms.
It was later revealed that they were on a mission to murder Shamim on Zeesan's order.