Crime time

Sadiqur Rahman reveals how and why crime is on the rise in the city during Ramada

cty01At midnight on June 27, Tanvir Islam Rifad, a university student of Mirpur, went out with a friend to have sehri outside. Rifad, who recently bought a new Pulsar 150cc motorcycle, rode the bike to the popular Star Kabab restaurant in Dhanmondi and had sehri there.
On their way back to home, they were blocked by a rushing pickup van just beside the restaurant. Rifad shared on Facebook later, ‘Seven to eight masked people came down from the van and tried to snatch my new bike. When we resisted, they pulled out sharp weapons and sticks and attacked us.’
Though Rifad got severely injured, he managed to protect his beloved bike from the hijackers. The two victims had to take emergency medical treatment at a nearby health clinic.
Rifad is one of the many victims of mugging incidents during ramadan, especially after dark, this year. According to law enforcers, a number of gangs have become active in the capital and its outskirts targeting city people ahead of the upcoming Eid-ul-Fitr.
Around dawn of June 24, Ashik Abdullah Khan and his friend Sabbir Ahmed Bappy, both residents of Uttara, fell prey to carjackers on the Tejgaon-Bijoy Sarani flyover while they were returning home from Old Dhaka after taking sehri.
The carjackers, aged between 25 and 40, intercepted their car with a truck, beat them up mercilessly, shot Ashik and ran away with the car.
Sabbir later informed media that he and Ashik drove to the popular Al Razzak Restaurant in Bangshal to have sehri. On their way back to Uttara, they had a drive through Hatirjheel and then to the Tejgaon-Bijoy sarani flyover. When they were halfway across the flyover, a flatbed with four people in the back overtook their car and stopped sideways blocking the car.
Before they could realise what was happening, the men, all wearing lungis, alighted from the truck and surrounded their car.
Sabbir informs, ‘When one of the carjackers tried to snatch the car key and Ashik held on to the steering in a bid to resist the man, he shot at Ashik’s abdomen.’
Dragging the two out of the car, the muggers left with the car.

According to police and businessmen, people’s movement during night time increases during Ramadan due to increased commercial purposes during the month. Moreover, the recent city trend of having sehri outside homes has made it convenient for criminals to target unsuspecting people.
Kamal Hossain, general secretary of the Dhaka City Shop Owners Association, informs, ‘During Ramadan, different city shops and shopping malls remain open till midnight. Due to busy day-long schedule and traffic congestions, shoppers visit markets after having iftar and often roam around shops till 12:00am to 12:30am.’
Kamal adds, ‘It takes an hour or more to return home. The staff members of the shops, especially those who sell outfits, usually go home after midnight as they have to account for total money transaction of the day and clean the shops before shut down. Besides, since city hotels and restaurants are shut during the daytime of ramadan, they try to sell food after iftar and continue this till sehri.’
Kamal shares that considering people’s movement after evening till midnight, business leaders had earlier urged law enforcers to tighten security in the urban areas during Ramadan.
‘We met the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Commissioner earlier last month and informed them about some 35 city points which are very prone to mugging.  Initially they assured us about proper security measures. But unfortunately, the measures did not take place, it seems,’ Kamal regrets.
On June 27, some snatchers shot and killed Md Obaidul Haque, zonal manager of Kwality Ice Cream of Sanwara Group and nephew of Chittagong Awami League leader Nurul Islam BSC, in Kalabagan area. The criminals attacked him on his way home by a rickshaw around 12:45am. Kalabagan Police station officer in-charge M Iqbal told media that three muggers, riding a motorbike, shot Obaidul in the head while he was crossing Central Road of Dhanmondi. The muggers looted Obaidul’s laptop, mobile set and money.
Earlier on the same day, a gang of three to four muggers hacked garment worker Nurul Alam indiscriminately at Janapad area near Saidabad Bus Terminal while he was waiting for bus to travel at around 2:00am. Abani Shankar Kar, officer in-charge of Jatrabari police station informed the media later that a police patrol team rescued Alam and rushed him to Dhaka Medical College Hospital where the duty doctors declared him dead. Later, Jatrabari police raided the bus terminal area and captured two suspected muggers who confessed their involvement in the killing.
Kamal views these incidents as a surge of criminal activities prior to upcoming Eid. He opines, ‘These criminal activities are surely conducted under political influences. Law enforcers should maintain strict security measures while overlooking political identities of the criminals. Otherwise, the image of the government will be tarnished.’
IGP AKM Shahidul Hoque, in a meeting with DMP officials, recently expressed his concern over the growing incidents of mugging and other types of crime in the city, a New Age report published on July 3, stated.
A DMP official, under condition of anonymity, informs New Age that the DMP chief Asaduzzaman Mia found police patrol on streets slackened after midnight when miscreants take the opportunity.
‘Asaduzzaman later instructed the police to remain alert and patrol the street round the clock,’ the official adds.