Amanur Aman, Kushtia
The fresh joint anti-crime operation by Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) and police to net 42 ’top criminals’ and their accomplices in southwestern districts showed little success so far.
The operation was launched on March 28 with a fresh list of the hardened criminals in hand as law and order deteriorated in the 10 districts.
The list included ’chiefs’ of 12 outlawed parties and leaders and cadres of other gangs.
Sources in the law enforcing agencies however said they arrested 18 ’criminals’ and recovered 10 arms since launch of the operation.
Of them, five were killed in ’crossfire’ and the rest sent to jail. Two of them were killed in Khulna, two in Kushtia and one in Chuadanga.
But other sources claimed that only one out the five killed was among the 42 most wanted criminals on the list. He was Tapash Mistry, ’regional leader’ of outlawed Janajuddho faction of Purbo Banglar Communist Party (PBCP), killed in April 1 in Batiagahata in Khulna.
Rezaul Haq alias Kalu an alleged cadre of Janajuddho was killed in Chuadanga on March 31. Two top cadres Sabirul Islam 32, and Mohidul Islam 28 of Fahmid-Faisal Bahini a notorious syndicate involved in various crimes in border areas were killed in Kushtia on April 15.
According to police records and other sources, at least 89 people were killed in three months in 10 districts in the region. Of them 19 were killed in January, 34 in February and 36 in March. The districts are Kushtia, Jhenidah, Meherpur, Chuadanga, Magura, Jessore, Narail, Sathkhira, Khulna and Bagerhat.
Police said most of the killings were done allegedly by outlaws.
The fresh list was prepared under the supervision of Rab Director General (DG) Abdul Aziz Sarkar who worked in the region for many years, sources said.
After preparing the list, Aziz Sarkar held a close-door meeting with high police officials in Chuadanga on March 28. The combing operation started on the night of March 28.
Those on the list are 28 outlaws belonging to four factions of Purbo Banglar Communist Party (PBCP), 10 of New Biplobi communist Party (NBCP) and four of Chhinnomul Communist Party (CCP), the sources said.
There has not been any let up in activities by outlaws in the region despite the Operation Clean Heart and Operation Spider, conducted by law enforcers earlier and incidents of crossfire.
A total of 286 crossfire deaths took place in the region from June 2004 to April 16 this year-- 158 in 2004, 108 in 2005 and 22 so far this year, according to police records. The latest incidents took place yesterday in which two alleged outlaws were killed in Khulna and Jhenidah. They are Purba Banglar Communist Party leader Iku alias Minaruddin, killed in Khulna and Azizur rahman of Biplobi Communist Party,killed in Jhenidah.
Chuadanga police on October 23 last year announced varying amounts of bounties to net 20 top outlaws but this brought little success. Only two out of the 20 were killed in crossfire in six months.
"It is not possible to root out outlaws overnight in a region where they are active for about 30 years," a high ranking police official of Khulna Range told this told this correspondent over cell phone yesterday.
He said outlaws are virtually protected by political leaders who use them for vote rigging and maintain supremacy in their respective areas.
Twelve outlawed parties with about 10,000 cadres having a large number of firearms are active in the region. They are four factions of Purbo Banglar Communist Party (PBCP), New Bipplobi Communist Party (NBCP), Banglar Communist Party (BCP-Laltu) Gono Mukti Fouj (GMF), Gono Bahini (GB), Socialist Party (SP), Biplobi Anuragi and Chhinnomul Communist Party (CCP).