The Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) arrested Helena Jahangiron Thursday night from her Gulshan residence after she recently lost the membership of Awami League's subcommittee on women's affairs for "breaching party policies".
Helena, who was initially an entrepreneur, gradually entered the world of politics over the last few years and became popular in the social media. She has over two lakh followers on Facebook.
Helena's name recently came up on social media as the president of an organisation called "Bangladesh Awami Chakurijibi League." After that, on 25 July, she was relieved of her membership in Awami League's subcommittee on women's affairs for her involvement with the "unauthorised" organisation, which the ruling party said had no connection with it.
Meher Afroz Chumki, the ruling party's women affairs secretary, recently issued a press release confirming that Helena was removed from the position as her recent activities spread through social media were not in accordance with the organisation's policy.
Rab Media Wing Director Commander Khandaker Al Moin said in a statement on Friday, "Rab has arrested Helena Jahangir from Gulshan in the capital on charges of spreading falsehoods, propaganda and misleading information through digital platforms and smearing important state institutions and individuals."
Rab seized foreign liquors, foreign currencies, two sets of walkie talkies, deer and kangaroo hide, casino equipment, and sharp modern knives from her house.
The elite force has filed two cases, including one under the Digital Security Act, against Helena and handed her over to the police. A Dhaka court granted three-day remand when the police produced her before the court on Friday.
The way Helena emerged as an entrepreneur
According to sources, Helena was born on 29 August, 1974 in Tejgaon, Dhaka. Helena Jahangir's father, the late Abdul Haq Sharif, was a captain of a ship.
She married Jahangir Alam in 1990, when she was in the eighth grade. She is the mother of three children.
According to Helena's interview to multiple media outlets regarding the FBCCI election, her husband Alam was working as the general manager of an established garment factory in Narayanganj at the time of their marriage. He was also involved with clearing and forwarding agency business as well.
Helena continued her studies after getting married and completed postgraduate studies.
Helena refused to remain only a housewife and tried to get a job at a garment factory. She gave job interviews in different companies. One day she went to her husband Alam's office to look for a job. Seeing her husband's office room there, she decided to become an entrepreneur and Alam agreed to that.
Six years after her marriage, Helena started her printing and embroidery business in 1996 on two floors of a building in Mirpur-11 in the capital. The company prints logos and stickers for various products as a backward linkage factory in the garment industry.
Starting with Knit Concern Printing Unit Ltd, Helena has set up several factories including Joy Auto Garments Ltd. Jesse Embroidery and Printing and Humaira Stickers Ltd under the Joyatra Group. She is the managing director of all of these companies.
In total, 12,000 people are working in these organisations.
Helena is a member and elected director of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), the apex body of businesspersons and industrialists.
She is also an active member of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA).
She is also member of around fifteen clubs including Dhaka Boat Club, Gulshan Club, Gulshan North Club, Baridhara Club, Cumilla Club, Golf Club, Gulshan All Community Club, BGMEA Apparel Club, Gulshan Ladies Club, Uttara Ladies Club, Gulshan Capital Club, Gulshan Society, Banani Society, Gulshan Joggers' Society and Gulshan Health Club.
She also owns an Internet Protocol television or IPTV called Joyjatra Television and claimed herself as President of Bangladesh IPTV Owners' Association.
Helena's venture into the world politics
Helena was also involved in the political arena and she was a member of the sub-committee on women's affairs of the Bangladesh Awami League. She was also an adviser to the Cumilla District Awami League.
She has accompanied the prime minister on several foreign trips.
Although she got involved with Awami League in recent times, there are reports of her involvement with Jatiya Party, and prior to that, with BNP. Her photos with BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and Jatiya Party's late chairman Hussain Muhammad Ershad have also been published in media.
Helena Jahangir took part in the mayoral election of Dhaka North City Corporation in 2015 as a rival of the late mayor Annisul Huq. At that time she claimed she had no connection with any political party and wanted to do politics as an independent candidate. However, she later withdrew from the election and supported Annisul.
Awami League insiders said Helena got a post in one of the subcommittees of the party with the assistance of an influential minister from Gazipur.
The minister did not respond to this correspondent's request for comments on Friday.
In the way of Papia
On 22 February last year, the Rab arrested Papia, suspended general secretary of Juba Mohila League's Narsingdi unit, her husband, a former Chhatra League leader, and their two accomplices from Dhaka's Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport, when they were trying to leave the country.
The elite force members recovered seven passports, Tk2,12,270, fake notes worth Tk25,600, $11,481, 420 Sri Lankan rupees, 301 Indian rupees and two debit cards from their possession.
Rab later raided Papia's flats in the capital's Farmgate and recovered a foreign-made pistol, two magazines, 20 bullets, five bottles of foreign liquor, Tk 58,41,000 cash, credit and debit cards of different banks.
A tribunal in Dhaka in January framed charges against Papia and her husband Mofizur Rahman Sumon in a case filed under the Narcotics Control Act.
Papia and Sumon are currently in jail.
On 10 September last year, the Rab pressed charges against the couple in the drugs case.