At last, the Motijheel police knocked the door of four sports clubs in their neighbourhoods where illegal casino business and gambling activities had been running for at least a decade.
Local dwellers and businessmen in the area said the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) have finally woken up from their slumber.
The area, also known as the clubpara, was raided by DMP's Motijheel zone on Sunday afternoon.
According to a police press briefing, they recently got intelligence information about the illegal casino business and gambling activities in four well-known sports clubs – Dilkusha Sporting Club, Arambagh Krira Chakra, Victoria Sporting Club and Mohammedan Sporting Club.
In separate drives starting from 2:30pm, police seized gambling equipment, Tk1 lakh in cash and alcohol.
All the instruments were new and unused, according to police sources. The instruments were said to have brought in from Nepal.
But, no one was arrested from these clubs in this connection. Police sealed off the clubs after the drives.
"We found the clubs locked, and we had to break in. No owners or officials could be arrested during the drives," said Monalisa Begum, additional deputy police commissioner of Motijheel zone.
Md Anwar Hossain, deputy police commissioner, however claimed that they had no knowledge about gambling activities in these four clubs although they are located at just a 2-minute walking distance from the Motijheel police station.
"We raided the clubs based on intelligence information about gambling taking place there regularly. Our raid will continue," he said.
Additional Deputy Commissioner Monalisa Begum also echoed the same.
Asked about how these casinos had been running in front of police for so long, Anwar Hossain denied making a comment but claimed that they operated several drives there before.
But local people and small entrepreneurs doing business in the area for a long time claimed to have never seen any police drive there except for the Sunday's.
Owner of a general store just in front of the Mohamedan Sporting Club said that they saw policemen visiting the area frequently although never for a drive.
"Usually, policemen knew everything but they did not do anything as they had been benefited financially from this illegal business," he added.
Another grocery shop owner said that a few police officers were always deployed in front of these clubs to ensure their security but they never fined the clubs or prevented them from illegal activities.
An additional deputy commissioner, seeking anonymity, claimed that the Motijheel police had information about these illegal activities.
"Police need instructions from the high-ups to conduct such a drive. We got the direction recently and hence the drive," he added.
The players behind casino business in four sports club
AK Mominul Haque Saeed, commissioner of Ward 9, Dhaka South City Corporation, runs gambling in three clubs – Arambagh Sporting Club, Mohamedan Sporting Club and Dilkusha Sporting Club, while Jubo League (Dhaka South) President Ismail Chowdhury Shamrat runs a casino at the Victoria Sporting Club.
DMP sources said that, after sensing drive against casino business, Mominul Haque Saeed fled to Singapore two weeks ago.
On the other hand, Victoria club president and Jubo League leader Shamrat, since Wednesday last when the casino crackdown started in Dhaka, has been staying at his office – just a kilometre away from the club.
When asked about why Shamrat has not been arrested yet, Deputy Police Commissioner Anwar Hossain declined to make any comment.
Foreigners' involvement discovered
Meanwhile, police identified involvement of several foreigners in the casino business of these four clubs.
"We have identified several Nepalese who were involved in the illegal business. We are trying to catch them," said Mishu Biswas, assistant commissioner of police at the Motijheel zone.
Police collected lots of information about Krishna Shrestha among the foreigners. He is a Nepalese and also a member of the racket, according to sources.
Krishna is the assistant managing director of the Bally's International – a casino based in Nepal. He set up all the instruments and also acted as a guide to run the illegal business in these clubs, sources added.
Earlier on September 18, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) busted the Young Men's Club and detained 142 people from Dhaka's Fakirapool area.
Later, the elite force detained Khalid Mahmud Bhuiyan, organising secretary of Dhaka City South chapter of Jubo League, from his Gulshan residence for running illegal casinos.
On September 20, the RAB conducted drives at Kalabagan Krira Chakra and Dhanmondi Club.
Gambling chips, foreign pistols, 572 packets of playing cards, yellow yaba tablets and other gambling materials were also confiscated during the drive at Kalabagan club. RAB also detained its President Shafiqul Alam Firoz who is now on a 10-day police remand.
A few hours later the same day, the RAB raided Dhanmondi Club Limited and sealed off its bar for the next 24 hours after finding mismanagement in its stock register.
On Saturday, a RAB team found gambling equipment at Chattogram's Muktijoddha Krira Sangsad and Mohammedan Sporting Club.