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Father-son duo set up organisations to control Old Dhaka


Father-son duo set up organisations to control Old Dhaka

Nurul Amin::To maintain supremacy of the Haji family in Old Dhaka, Awami League lawmaker Haji Salim and his son, recently suspended councilor Erfan Salim, founded a number of organizations with students, political activists and businessmen.

Dhaka-7 constituency politics, as well as subversive activities like extortion and forced occupation of lands, were controlled by these organizations administered by politicians, businessmen and armed cadres loyal to the family, said investigators from law enforcement agencies.

At-A-Glance:
  • Father, son run 10 organisations to control Old Dhaka
  • Human chain formed to recover Tibet Hall
  • Investigation agencies visit spot
  • Jail is a dirty place: Erfan during day-1 remand

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, police at Dhanmondi Police Station in the capital interrogated Erfan in a case filed over the beating and harassment of a Navy official and his wife.

According to sources, although Erfan admitted to various misdeeds during the interrogation, he also avoided many sensitive topics on different pretexts. When the case was handed over to DB Police, he passed his first night of remand in Dhanmondi PS after being taken to Detective Branch’s (DB) Minto Road central office in the capital on Thursday.

Meanwhile, families who had been tortured by Irafn and his accomplices are still hesitant to speak against them. Although two of his accomplices have been arrested already, a large number of Erfan’s armed cadres is still at large and active in Old Dhaka, said local sources.

During spot visits at multiple locations of old town, a cross section of locals spoke about the campaign of repressions being carried out by the Haji family.

They said everything was controlled by leaders and activists of 10 organisations that are behind the misdeeds in Old Dhaka. The organisations were run as dictated by Haji family members.

According to investigating sources and locals, an organization titled ‘Devidasghat Juba Oikya Sangathan’ – with Erfan Salim as its chief advisor – was founded to control the youths of the area. Haji Md Salim Babu, an active accomplice of Irfan, is the organisation’s joint advisor.

On Thursday, Salim Babu was seen gossiping with a group of 15-20 members in front of Haji Salim’s home. Different sections of the area were identified by his group members, who would harass any visiting media.

Locals alleged that a number of business bodies, including Ckbazar Banik Samity, work on behalf of Haji family in order to control the area. In addition, Devidasghat Sachetan Nagarik Samaj, Samajkalyan Sangsad, Nalgola Tarun Sangha, Talysd Sarder and Labour Organisation, Devidasghat Package Manufacturing Sramik League etc. are also actively involved in maintaining supremacy of the Haji family in old town. Either Haji Salim or his son Erfan Salim is the advisor of all these organisations.

In addition to using photos of their own leaders, these organizations use Haji Salim and Erfan’s photos on their posters.

Local shopkeepers alleged that all these organisations were run as per the whims of father and son.

Haji Salim could not be reached even after repeated attempts made by this correspondent.

‘Jail is a dirty place’

During the first day’s remand, police wanted to know about Erfan’s experience on the first day in jail. He replied, “Jail is a dirty place.”

Sources said he admitted to his involvement in beating a Navy official and his wife without any hesitation. “He never imagined that the incident would be blown up to such proportions,” they said.

Erfan, however, called the torture cell his music studio.

Investigators said although he admitted collecting walky-talkies and other devices from overseas, he denied using the devices to commit crimes.

Law enforcement officials said, “During the investigation, when we told him that he would not get bail easily in firearms and narcotics cases, he became restless and started pulling out his hair.”

Abdullahil Kafi, additional police superintendent of Dhanmondi zone, told , “We have handed over all the case documents to DB Police after the case was transferred to them.”

Meanwhile, on Thursday morning, investigating officials from Police, Rapid Action Batallion (RAB) and Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), visited the nine-storied building at Devidas Lane, the residence of Haji Salim and Erfan Salim. They spoke to the tenants of the residence and to neighbours and local shopkeepers to collect information.

Meanwhile, students of Jagannath University on Thursday formed a human chain in front of the university gate, demanding return of Tibet Hall reportedly occupied by Haji family for a while.

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