Jatiya Sangsad Whip and MP from Chattogram-12 constituency (Patiya) Shamsul Haque Chowdhury is once again in the limelight for his controversial activities. It seems he has become synonymous with controversy.
Earlier, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) launched an investigation into the assets of the whip after his name surfaced during the crackdown on casinos and the government’s purge of corrupt elements when there were a number of arrests.ACC officials said the probe is still underway. Meanwhile, several other allegations have been raised against the whip and his son Nazmul Haque Chowdhury Sharun, including that of grabbing mosque land.
After the casino crackdown, the ACC on October 23, 2019 sent a letter to the Special Superintendent (Immigration) of the Special Branch of police to bar 22 people, including Shamsul Haque, from leaving the country on charges of money laundering.
The letter, signed by ACC Director Syed Iqbal Hossain, said information was received that the accused were trying to leave the country. The police unit was requested to take effective measures to prevent them from leaving the country.
At the same time, the national anti-graft watchdog requested the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit (BFIU) to provide information about the bank accounts of two dozen MPs, including Shamsul Haque, who were accused of accumulating illegal wealth and siphoning off money.
It said the preliminary investigation had found the allegations against the whip and others to be true.
Muhammad Delwar Bakht, then ACC secretary, told the media that the ban was imposed on those against whom the allegations were found to be true in the preliminary investigation.Whip Shamsul Haque criticised the government when it was making arrests during the crackdown on casinos in the country. In this way, he stated his stance in favour of casino business.
Asked about casinos at various sporting clubs, Shamsul told journalists at the Chattogram Circuit House in September 2019 that there are 12 sporting clubs across the city and those take part in the Premier League. “Does the administration pay salary of players of those clubs? Does the government pay them? No. So, the clubs have to be provided with the chances,” he had said.
Whip’s income from club gambling exceed Tk several hundred crore
According to the ACC sources, Shamsul Haque earned Tk several hundred crore from Chattogram Abahani Club in the last five years.
In a Facebook post in 2019, police Inspector Mahmud Saiful Amin claimed that whip’s net income from gambling in the clubs of Chattogram stands at around Tk 180 crore.
Later, the whip filed a case against him under the Digital Security Act.
Shamsul Haque’s prime associate and so-called personal officer (PA) Nur-ur-Rashid Chowdhury alias Ejaz Chowdhury was interrogated for six hours at the ACC head office on January 21, 2020.
During the ACC interrogation, Nur-ur-Rashid claimed that he had relations with the whip. Earlier, he was summoned for questioning on January 14, 2020. However, the whip is out of reach.
Grabbing mosque land
Whip Shamsul Haque has been accused of occupying the land of ‘Patiya Thana Jame Mosque’. It is alleged that he is occupying 22 ganda of land of the mosque and building a 10-storey market there.
Shamsul Haque and his son Sharun already formed the so-called mosque management committee with a leader loyal to them as its head.
He changed the name of the mosque. It was learned that the formalities to build the 10-storey market after demolishing the mosque have already been completed.
Whip’s forgery using his cook
The MP from Patiya has been accused of grabbing people’s land through forgery.
It was learned that he sold a piece of land measuring three ganda and two kora in Bakalia Karnaphuli Residential Area after making his cook its owner.
Upazila Nirbahi Officer of Anwara Shafiqul Haider Majumder got the allotment of a plot in Bakalia Karnaphulli Residential Area on April 25, 1989 as a cadre of the BCS admin.
He sold the land to a businessman, Haji Mohammad Shafique Ahmed, in September 1997.
However, Shamsul Haque took the assistance of his then cook in Dhaka Mohammad Soleman alias Soleman Baburchi to illegally take possession of the land.
The land was registered in the name of one Khurshida Khan, a member of an influential Awami League family, in 2001 after introducing cook Solemen as Mohammad Shafique Ahmed as per the plan.
Soleman came to know about the forgery in the middle of 2002. Realising his mistake, he made his position clear before a magistrate court in Chattogram through affidavit on November 24, 2002.
How far has ACC investigation progressed?
In 2019, the ACC started an investigation against Shamsul Haque on the basis of various allegations. However, the ACC has not yet called him for questioning.
ACC Director (Investigation) and Investigation Officer Syed Iqbal Hossain said: “The ACC investigation and inquiry against him (Shamsul) are still ongoing.”
But the official did not say anything about the procrastination in the investigation.
After the anti-casino crackdown, the ACC hit the field in search of their illegal assets by listing more than 200 influential people.
Cases have already been filed against 22 people from this list, including several prominent leaders of Awami League and Jubo League.
The names of five other Awami League MPs, including Shamsul Haque, came up in the list on the basis of ACC intelligence information.
However, the ACC was able to interrogate only Sunamganj-1 MP Moazzem Hossain Ratan after the investigation began.