Casino king Ismail Hossain Chowdhury Samrat used to offer solutions for land and buildings with disputed ownerships. He would first strike a deal with a party that came to him for help recovering the property. Then he would make fake documents and grab the entire property by deceiving both the rightful owner and the party that sought his help.
Even the building he had been using as his office at Kakrail was grabbed illegally.
First, he rented a single apartment at the building, settled in there and later ate up the total property. There are numerous allegations against his armed gang of grabbing buildings. And the victims range from a Hindu family to a retired army official.
Take for example the case of Kazi Majedur Rahman — an ex-army officer and a freedom fighter.
The casino kingpin occupied his residence at Paltan Nightingale intersection in Dhaka.
The six-storey building is locally known as Major Sahib's villa. After the death of Major (Retd) Kazi Majedur, her wife Roksana Parvin became the rightful owner of it.
One fine morning in 2017, Samrat's goons occupied the building and drove the tenants away.
According to Roksana, local Councillor Mostafa Jaman Poppy, then local Chhatra League general secretary Kazi Jahid, and Samrat's close associate Kazi Riaz led the eviction drive.
They started using the building as their hangout and later turned it into a gambling spot.
The armed gang made frequent death threats to Roksana, asking her not to raise voice and seek help from police, she said.
She said she went to Paltan police once for seeking intervention.
To her frustration, she found Kazi Riaz and Kazi Jahid — two of Samrat's close associates — gossiping with the then officer-in-charge of the police station.
She also went to Samrat's office and begged him to give back her property. But every time Roksana had to return empty-handed.
The freedom fighter's widow told The Business Standard that she took a bank loan mortgaging the house. She also repaid every penny of it to the bank.
In the meantime, as per Samrat's instructions, his associates posted and circulated a fake auction advertisement for the building, said Roksana.
The High Court later issued an order in favour of Roksana as she sought legal settlement. But the reality is that the goons of Samrat are still collecting rents from the building based on the fake ownership.
However, Samrat and his cohorts allowed her to stay in an apartment of the building on the first floor, said Roksana.
"They say I am lucky enough to stay on their property. They had threatened to drive me away if I raised my voice," she claimed.
Locals alleged that ward Councillor Mostafa Jaman Poppy, and leaders of Jubo League and Chhatra League became unstoppable under Samrat's leadership. Even the police turned a blind eye to their misdeeds.
When contacted, Kazi Jahid, who was allegedly involved in grabbing the building, categorically dismissed all the allegations. He suggested contacting Riaz — another accused.
This correspondent talked to Riaz. He said, "I am not a grabber." He claimed that he had purchased the land and the building through an auction.
The Business Standard could not reach ward Councillor Poppy as he did not receive phone calls.