A real estate businessman has ruined the dreams of hundreds of people of owning homes in Dhaka and has swindled crores of taka from them.
Manik Kumar Talukder is one of the victims. He bought a 8.26 decimal plot of land from Nasim Real Estate Ltd for a total of Tk12.5 lakh in 2010.
Initially, he paid Tk1 lakh to the company in 2010, and then he made the rest of the payment in installments by August 2018.
Manik's eight years of toil to become the owner of a plot of land turned into a nightmare when he went to the Mirpur office of the real estate company which is a member of the Real Estate and Housing Association of Bangladesh (REHAB) to get the registration papers of the land.
"I found the office shut and the receptionist asked me not to disturb owner Md Imam Hossain Nasim. The office was well-equipped with a face recognition system at the door and heightened digital security," Manik said.
The real estate entrepreneur refused to give Manik the promised land and also refused to pay back his deposited money.
"He even threatened me and told me to do whatever I can against him," said Manik.
Later, Manik filed a general diary at Shah Ali Police Station and then the police made repeated attempts to make Nasim refund the deposited money.
"The police tried a lot but could not do anything as he was a conman who roamed here and there and hid regularly," Manik said.
Md Firoz Khan, a director of Transilva Ltd, also bought a plot of land from the real estate company in 2009 and faced a similar fate.
But one fine evening, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) knocked on the "digital" door of Nasim Real Estate owner in the capital's Mirpur.
RAB members broke open the "face recognisable" door of Imam Hossain Nasim's underground den and arrested the man, in his sixties, along with his assistant Halima Akter Salma in the capital's Rupnagar residential area on Wednesday night on the charge of committing fraud.
RAB claimed that Nasim had also pocketed crores of taka by taking Tk5 lakh from 5,000 people each with a promise of building residential housing in the Kaundia area of Savar in the early 2000s.
He also swindled around Tk300 crore by fraudulently registering land to another 250 people who paid him Tk12.50 lakh each, said RAB-4 Commanding Officer Md Mozammel Haque.
Mozammel also said that the victims had repeatedly complained about him to REHAB but never got a remedy from the association.
Replying to a question, REHAB Vice-President Kamal Mahmud told The Business Standard that they had received a complaint in 2015 and later the victim had also filed a case in a Dhaka court against Nasim Real Estate.
"After filing the complaint, the victim never contacted REHAB and that is why we could not take any action," he added.
Nasim, who was in hiding, faces arrest warrants in 55 cases from different police stations on charges of fraud.
However, Dhaka Metropolitan Police's Mirpur Division Deputy Commissioner ASM Mahatab Uddin refused to comment when asked why they could not arrest Nasim although he was wanted in dozens of cases.
Meanwhile, a team of RAB-4 conducted an operation at his house in Rupnagar residential area and office at National Zoo Road in Mirpur and on Wednesday and arrested him and his assistant, said RAB-4 Deputy Commander Major Md Rakibul Hasan.
RAB also seized a foreign pistol, a magazine, three bullets, Tk1,35,000 in counterfeit notes, 1,400 pieces of yaba, and two bottles of foreign liquor, four sets of walkie-talkies, six passports, 37 bank checkbooks and 32 subscriber identity module (SIM) cards.
Nasim owns at least 16 companies which he formed through fraud, said the RAB-4 commanding officer.
Nasim worked as a contractor between 1978 and 1986, but then suddenly appeared as the owner of Nasim Real Estate company, which he started through fraud in 2000, said Major Rakib.
Nasim has been setting up various companies since 2005 to pocket money from people in different ways.
Major Rakib said that Nasim's known incidents of fraud were just the tip of the iceberg, and Rab has opened a hotline number – 01777710407– where new allegations might surface.