Once grown with the blessing of power politics, the money-making gambling industry is facing the end of government today
A decade after the reign of the ruling Awami League party in Bangladesh, this month’s law enforcement agencies have cracked down on illegal casinos allegedly run by members of the ruling party.
Law enforcement officials reportedly produced a list of about 60 casinos in the capital, Dhaka, for a transaction volume of 1.2 billion Bangladesh Taka ($ 14 million) per night.
After quiet growth, but with the apparent wisdom and patronage of powerful neighborhoods, the casinos – especially in Dhaka – would likely surpass the casinos run in a city of another country where casinos are not illegal.
The sudden drive against the casinos from 18 September caught the leaders of the youth front of the governing party, the Jubo League, which is to run the casinos under the coverage of some popular sports clubs. Some have been arrested, others remain at large.
“Understandably, the establishment went out of control and now wants to bring the casinos under control, it’s a lot of money, and the government wants to revamp its image,” said Imtiaz Ahmed, political scientist at Dhaka University, Anadolu Agency. He added that from the point of view of state security, “the idea was to bring discipline”.
The secretary of the Ministry of Tourism has already said that in the future casino facilities will be provided to foreign tourists in exclusive zones.
Many criticized the proposed idea in the country comprised mainly of Muslim population, saying that the constitution, which states, “The state will take effective measures to prevent prostitution and gambling.” Paradoxically, casino and gambling materials were legally imported because they are not restricted items. According to Bangladeshi colonial law, punishment for gambling is easy.
The beneficiaries of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League party initially protested the move, calling it late for the continued growth of casinos, but as soon as the Iron Lady said she would continue the campaign to rule in this sector, no opposition or even criticism was to be seen.
General Aziz Ahmed, head of the country’s army staff, welcomed the move, describing it as a prime minister’s position against corruption and misdeeds. In his speech on September 24, he said that intelligence had been asked to investigate corruption and misdeeds.
How it happened
The crackdown on casinos was preceded on September 14 by the postponement of the governing party’s president and general secretary, the Chhatra League, allegedly for having received commissions from a $ 10 billion Taka ($ 122 million) development project at a public university.
One of those arrested during the voyage is AG Shamim, the man who moved with private bodyguards, allegedly carrying 18 million taka ($ 213,000) in cash and $ 1.65 billion (19 , 5 million US dollars) in his possession during the raid on him had. House. A governing member of parliament was also named as one of the beneficiaries of the casino club, which reportedly received 1.8 billion taka ($ 21.2 million), but the officer who made allegations was later withdrawn from his assigned job ,
Since the Awami League took office following a 2008 electoral victory under a military-controlled government, influential leaders of the Jubo League and Chhatra League have been involved in blackmail, bid rigging and the underworld. Activities.
Once again coming to power through controversial elections in 2018, the party’s incumbents and their sycophants called such actions an attempt to clean the house, though past drives against corruption and drugs were turned into fiasco as alleged godfathers of both corruption and drug trafficking largely untouched.
The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) blasted the governing party for the “misdeeds of the ruling quarters” revealed by the raid, but also expressed skepticism that it would continue.
“The more such drives continue, the more the leaders of the Awami League, the Jubo League and the Chhatra League are exposed,” BNP leader Nazrul Islam Khan was quoted by the media.
Government ministers have begun blaming BNP, which last ruled the country from 2001 to 2006, for casino culture and often call casino operators “infiltrators” into the Awami League.
Privately, some leading party leaders admitted their ignorance of the attack and said they regretted that Bangladeshi politics no longer belonged to politicians.
Imtiaz said casinos were under the surveillance of the authorities, who, he said, missed no target during the raid.
“The timing was carefully chosen because there is now no electoral question and what was allowed is part of the accumulation of capital in a brutal way,” he said.
According to Washington-based Global Financial Integrity, approximately $ 6 billion was bailed out of Bangladesh in a single year (2015). In its index over the past two decades, Berlin-based Transparency International has ranked Bangladesh as one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
Money-making men allied with the governing party are made top officials in state sports boards, while some Jubo League leaders have taken influential positions in various sports clubs used for casinos.
“If there had been proper elections in the clubs, this situation would not have been created, and the people nominated by the government now run various organizations,” journalist Syed Abul Maksud argued, casting doubt on whether everyone involved in the casino business would be caught the clubs “, he argued,” just a small part of an overall picture “of Bangladeshi society.
These muscle-and-money leaders and government officials played a crucial role in the parliamentary elections in December 2018, which held the party in power with a majority of more than three quarters, after another one-sided victory in the 2014 elections. led opposition parties, which together secured less than 10 seats in the 300-member parliament, rejected the polls completely manipulated and absurd.
Speaking to the nation after forming a government in January, Prime Minister Hasina said that people from all walks of life, from business people to doctors to former bureaucrats to writers / journalists, supported their party during the election campaign.
“When people from almost all levels and professions express their support for a party, this party can not be stopped in any way,” she added.
According to reports released on September 20, the Prime Minister said her government targeted the leaders of the Youth Front after taking action against the student leaders.
There is no discussion of how the recent situation was created, who patronized these elements to break the law and commit corruption, under what political circumstances it was possible and why people tolerated this situation.
Ali Riaz, a professor at Illinois University in the US, argued in an article published by a Bangladeshi newspaper that the absence of a debate on critical issues surrounding the growth of casinos in the media as a whole “hints of something different”, an atmosphere that some people lack freedom or smothered by self-censorship.