Dhaka sees a dramatic fall in most of the criminal activities, thanks to a nationwide shutdown, but statistics say there is no indication of any improvement in the situation of narcotics-related crimes.
Over 80 percent cases filed in March with 50 police stations of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) were related to drug recovery.
Police say crimes have dropped significantly because security has been strengthened in the city. Besides, streets are largely empty as residents now stay indoors and most offices, shops, malls and educational institutions remain closed.
But, drug peddlers have grabbed this opportunity to transport narcotics by even goods- and relief-laden vehicles.
Ishtiaque Amin, additional deputy commissioner of DMP's Crimes Division, told The Business Standard that crimes dropped to around half compared to that in the same period last year.
"But narcotics cases are being filed at the same rate," he added.
In March, 2,055 cases were filed with the DMP for different crimes while the figure in February and January was 2,131 and 2,247 respectively.
According to data, crimes in Dhaka usually go up in every spring due to weather and environmental circumstances. But the Covid-19 pandemic has made an exception this year.
On April 20 afternoon, a potato-laden pickup van was plying the Dhaka-Chattogram Highway. Having been tipped-off, a Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) team searched the vehicle and discovered 20kg cannabis.
The same day, the same team also recovered 2,000 bottles of Phensedyl from a luxurious car that claimed to have been heading for Cumilla for relief distribution.
Poritosh Chandra, officer in-charge of Kolabagan Police Station, said that they were used to filing cases for robberies, thefts and other serious crimes.
"But in the last two weeks, we only received cases regarding narcotics. There was no case for either murder or rape. Coronavirus seems to have changed the criminals' mind-sets too," he added.
Rafiqul Islam, officer-in-charge of Pallabi Police Station, said 60-70 cases are usually recorded at the police station every month.
But in March, they recorded 50, of which only two were filed in the last 10 days of the month, he also said, adding that no single case for rape, stealing, mugging or other petty crimes had been filed since March 26.
Abdul Baten, additional commissioner of DMP's Detective Branch, said crimes such as murder, rape, robbery, theft and petty ones fell to its lowest since the mid-March.
This was largely because people were staying homes round the clock since March 26 when the nationwide public holiday was declared, he also said.
"But drug peddlers are still active. They are using new tactics to transport drugs. Even goods delivery vans and people are being used in it," he added.
Deputy Commissioner (Uttara Crime Division) Nabid Kamal Shaibal concurred with the same opinion and said crimes decreased much due to the people's absence on streets.
"There is none on roads to target; so there is no criminal," he said.
"Besides, police now can rush anywhere within a few minutes, thanks to a low presence of vehicles on streets. So, criminals are giving a second thought before doing crimes," he opined.
Sudip Kumar Chakraborty, deputy commissioner of DMP's Gulshan Division, attributed the decline in criminal activities to increased police patrol.
As the movement of people was restricted and the number of check-posts increased, offenders were thinking twice before committing crimes, he observed.
Syed MahfuzulHaqueMarzan, a senior lecturer of criminology department at Dhaka University, said crimes all over the world decreased amid the Covid-19 crisis.
"It might be because criminals too have isolated themselves in the fear of coronavirus. It also might be that people are shying away from police stations to file cases during this crisis," he added.
Syed Mahfuzul, who is now abroad for higher study, requested all concerned to be alert against a possible wave of crimes after the pandemic.
"History testifies that crimes increase soon after a pandemic. Many criminals may turn aggressive at that time," he added.