Casino kingpin and just expelled Jubo League (Dhaka South) president Ismail Hossain Chowdhury Samrat yesterday landed in the Keraniganj Central Jail as he was sentenced to six months' imprisonment for illegally keeping animal hides.
A process is also on to file two more cases against him on possessing narcotics and illegal arms in his office.
A RAB mobile court led by Executive Magistrate Sarwoer Alam gave the sentence on Sunday evening, following raids at Samrat's residences and office in the city's five different areas.
After a five-hour raid at his office at Kakrail's Bhuiyan Mansion, the RAB recovered 19 bottles of foreign liquor, 1,160 pieces of contraband yaba tablets, two electric shock machines, kangaroo hides and a pistol, said RAB Commanding Officer Lt Col Sarwar Bin Kashem.
After he had been detained from Cumilla around 5am on Sunday, Samrat was interrogated by the RAB and then taken to raid his office.
At the same time, the RAB raided Samrat's residences at Dhanmondi, Banani, Mohakhali and Shantinagar areas in the capital.
Before his arrest, Samrat had tried to flee the country through the Cumilla border. He had been hiding in a house at Chauddagram's Punjashree village in the district before attempting the final move to escape.
One of Samrat's cohorts – Enamul Haque Arman – was also held during the drive. Samrat was soon transferred to the RAB headquarters in Dhaka.
Meanwhile, the Jubo League Central Committee expelled Samrat and Arman on allegations of violating discipline of the Awami League's front organisation.
As per intelligence sources, Samrat, during his tenure as the president of the Dhaka south city unit of the Jubo League, took control of the city's underworld and earned millions by controlling illegal gambling, casinos, extortion and tender manipulation.
"It took time to apprehend him because Samrat adopted different tactics to avert arrest," said RAB's Director General Benazir Ahmed.
The RAB boss said: "Samrat went into hiding two days after the drives against illegal gambling and casinos had begun nationwide."
Earlier on September 18, the RAB began their anti-casino drives through raiding sporting clubs in the city's Motijheel area.
The RAB arrested Jubo League's organising secretary Khaled Mahmud Bhuiyan on an allegation of his involvement in the illegal casino business in sporting clubs.
On the same day, Samrat, along with more than 1,000 leaders and activists, took position at his Kakrail office from where he disappeared after two days.
Sources said intelligence agencies always kept an eye on Samrat soon after he had started staying at his office. Meanwhile, he also tried to flee the country but had to return from airport as security was beefed up across the capital.
How Samrat was held
The RAB informed the media that Samrat had been hiding in the house of a person named Munir Chowdhury in Punjashree village of Chauddagram upazila.
Early in the morning, around a dozen cars carrying RAB members took position around Punjashree village and stopped vehicular movement on different roads of the area, said Pranab Kumar, the company commander of Cumilla RAB-11.
Later, they cordoned off the house and detained Samrat and Arman, he added.
Golam Faruq Helal, the chairman of Alkora union, said Munir Chowdhury is locally known as a Jamaat-e-Islami leader. He is the brother-in-law of Feni Municipality's ruling party Mayor Md Alauddin.
Alauddin, the owner of the intercity bus service Star Line Paribahan, joined the Awami League from the Jatiya Party, he added.
Earlier, the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Bangladesh Bank sought details of bank accounts of Samrat and his family members.
Samrat's addiction for gambling
Following the RAB drive at Samrat's Mohakhali residence, Sharmin Chowdhury – the second wife of Samrat – talked to reporters where she disclosed that Samrat did not go to his Mohakhali residence in the last two years.
She also claimed she was not aware of her husband's involvement in casino business. She, however, said gambling was Samrat's only addiction.
According to Sharmin, Samrat used to spend the money he earned from his illegal casino business behind leaders and activists to run the party.
Welcoming the anti-casino drive in the capital, she said Samrat should be punished under the existing laws if he is proved guilty.
Samrat's attempt to evade arrest
During primary interrogation, Samrat told the RAB that he got scared in the wake of the ongoing crackdown on casino business and sought shelter from different political and business people.
After being refused, he and Arman went to Alauddin's Pirerbagh house in the capital on 21 September where they discussed their safety and future, according to RAB sources.
Alauddin suggested that they go into hiding at a home of his brother-in-law in Cumilla. Subsequently, they went to Chauddogram on September 22 by a Harrier SUV of Arman.
Meanwhile, they also tried to cross the border through the Agartala border but failed.
Samrat also admitted to the RAB that AK Mominul Haque Saeed, a councillor of Ward 9 of the Dhaka South City Corporation, handled the money he earned through gambling and extortion. Saeed used to carry that money to different places.
What happened to his associate Arman?
Enamul Haque Arman, the expelled vice-president of Dhaka South City Jubo League, has been sent to Cumilla Central Jail on Sunday for possessing illegal foreign liquor.
"The mobile court found him drunk while arresting him from Cumilla's Chauddagram and sentenced him with six months imprisonment," said Sarwar Bin Kashem.
He was taken back to Dhaka along with Samrat after arrest. Later he was sent to Cumilla jail on a RAB helicopter.