Police, in an ongoing investigation, have gleaned the names of at least five prominent dance directors, a choreographer and a famous Dhallywood actress whose managers allegedly were trafficking girls from Bangladesh to dance clubs in Dubai.
A team of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Bangladesh Police arrested dancer and choreographer Ivan Shahriar Sohag on allegations of his involvement with a racket that traffics women to Dubai.
The Dhaka Metro North division of CID made the arrest on Thursday night, Additional Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of CID Sheikh Md Rezaul Haider confirmed to The Business Standard.
The girls, aged between 18 to 20, were promised lucrative jobs and high salaries. Subsequently, they were lured to jobs in oil-rich Middle Eastern countries.
However, the jobs they were promised turned out to be sex-slavery and there would not be any turning back when the victims found that out after reaching Dubai.
The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of police said now they are analysing the information obtained in separate confessional statements of two arrestees in a trafficking case.
Syed Jannat Ara, Special Superiendient of CID (Organised Crime), told The Business Standard, "We are verifying whether the showbiz celebrities mentioned in the confessions are really involved in this."
According to the confessional statements, one of the accused, Md Yasin, said he alone sent more than 100 girls to Dubai.
Yasin claimed that he came to know about sex-trafficking after he tried to check back on the girls he had sent to Dubai. All the girls informed him that they had been forced to get involved in the sex trade in Dubai, and they never got their monthly salaries, court sources said, quoting Yasin.
Yasin, in the statement, told the court that he had two dance academies in Dhaka's outskirt Narayanganj – Modern and Nirmal Dance Academy. The academies used to provide performers for social events like Gaye Holuds, weddings and birthday parties.
Yasin came across one Najim at such an occasion and he proposed Yasin to visit his academies. Later, Najim and another, Russel, visited Yasin's dance academy in Narayanganj.
Najim told Yasin that he had four dance clubs in Dubai and the artistes of the dance academies could avail jobs there.
"As you run two dance clubs, you might have known Apurba, Akter, Sohag and Goutam," Najim said to Yasin, adding these people are big fish in Dhallywood and they all work for the famous actress.
Najim promised a Tk50,000 per month salary to the dance academy girls if they went to Duai. Enticed, some girls gave their passport details to Najim.
Two girls initially left Dhaka for Dubai and Yasin got Tk30,000 from them. Just after three months, the duo returned home since they had been forced into sex-trafficking abroad and were never paid the promised salary.
In the meantime, Yasin started receiving more and more orders to send girls for social events, foreign club dancers and youtube performances. He brought the girls to the clients, received money for each girl and returned to Narayanganj.
"When I checked back on the girls I had supplied nearly for two and three years, I found no trace of them. All of the girls might have ended into sex trafficking in Dubai," confessed Yasin.
Who contacted Yasin for girls?
Yasin, in the confessional statement, mentioned some names of those who hired the performers from his dance academies.
The names are: Mainuddin, Sajib, Ivan Shariar Shohag, Lovna Moriom, Wasim, Jasim, and three other prominent dance directors and choreographers.
Yasin said there people took the girls promising them jobs on TV programmes, in movies and in foreign countries.
He said, "They were not the only ones, the syndicate collected beautiful and young girls from all across the country."
What the ringleader says
The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of police has arrested the alleged gang-leader of a sex trafficking racket which forced hundreds of girls from Bangladesh into prostitution in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Azam Khan, the alleged mastermind of the gang, owns four hotels in Dubai: Hotel Fortune Royal, Fortune Grand Hotel, City Tower Hotel, and Fortune Pearl Hotel and Dance Club. The first three hotels are four-star standard, while the last one is three-star.
Making the disclosure on July 13 at a press briefing at the CID headquarters, Deputy Inspector General (Organised Crime Unit) Imtiaz Ahmed, said, "The UAE recently expelled Azam from the country after discovering his illegal activities behind his hotel business."
The CID's organised crime team also arrested two other people involved in the human trafficking racket, who forced young women into prostitution in Dubai after trafficking them using tourist visas.
The arrestees–Anwar Hossain and Al Amin–have been identified as associates of Azam Khan. The police, however, did not disclose the date and location of the arrests.
At the press briefing, the CID official said, "The UAE had informed the Bangladesh Embassy about Azam Khan's sex trafficking racket. Later, the embassy seized his passport and other documents.
"Earlier this year, he was deported to Bangladesh and was trying to escape to a neighbouring country by getting another passport. However, the CID managed to track him down and arrest him. Azam and his gang had been trafficking young women to Dubai for years."
Later, the ring leader Azam Khan confessed before a Dhaka court in July and confessed that he and another one named Sajib of capital's Badda area and Akin also trafficked hundreds of young girls luring them to give jobs in Dubai dance clubs.
Alleged Nazim Khan is Azam Khan's younger brother, he along with Alamgir forced young girls to trafficked into prostitution.
How did the racket operate?
According to CID sources, hundreds of women – mostly aged between 20 and 25 – were trafficked to the UAE, some free of cost.
In the first stage in Dubai, Azam Khan and his racket got the victims jobs in their four hotels. During the second stage, they forced the trafficked women into working in dance bars, and soon they ended up involved in prostitution.
"The gang tortured any trafficked women who refused to get involved in dance bars and prostitution," said DIG Imtiaz Ahmed. He added, "We filed a case at Lalbagh police station on July 2, and Azam Khan has confessed to involvement in the human trafficking racket."
Providing further details about the racket, the CID official said, "Azam has trafficked more than a thousand women in the last eight years from Bangladesh, luring them with jobs with a salary of Tk50,000 per month.
"Several travel agencies, two foreign airlines, and more than 50 brokers have worked as his associates in Bangladesh. Azam himself used to work on human trafficking. His two brothers also work as his accomplices and they have gone into hiding in Dubai."
The Bangladesh Embassy in the UAE confiscated Azam's passport after the country brought allegation of human trafficking against him, DIG Imtiaz said, adding that Azam was sent back to Bangladesh with an out pass later.
"Azam's mobile phone contains audio clips of over hundred women crying to return to Bangladesh," he added.