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Bangladesh - 4 days ago

Gold smuggling and murders on India-Bangladesh border

Chandan Nandy, Kolkata: Less than two hours before sunset on January 17, three men, their woolen shawls pulled over their faces, crept out of a row of bushes less than half a kilometre from the India-Bangladesh border in Baghadanga village under Maheshpur upazila in Jhenaidah district of Bangladesh.
One of them pulled out a gun and fired three shots in rapid succession at their targets – two men. One of the two, Shamim Mandal, also a resident of Baghadanga, took two bullets in his chest. He died on the spot.
A third bullet fired by the assailant hit Shamim’s uncle Mintu Mandal in the throat. He died in a hospital in nearby Jibannagar.
The assailant, identified as Tariqul Islam, fled and took shelter in a house across the border in Nadia district of West Bengal.
Maheshpur Office-in-Charge Zamir Hossain registered a case of double murder but not before declaring that the Mandals were mere couriers in Jhenaidah’s gold smuggling network. The bigger fish were never identified.
Earlier that day, Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) had seized about 4 kg gold worth Tk 4 crore at Matila, also on the border on the Bangladesh side.
It was alleged that Tariqul Islam had informed the police about the gold consignment. This led an infuriated Tariqul to “hit back” at the Mandals.
Tariqul, alleged to be a henchman of Awami League MP from Kaliganj (Jhenaidah-4) Anwarul Azim Anar, has since been reported to be in a Nadia jail.
Inquiries over phone with local villagers and the police did not throw up any information on the Mandals’ links, if any, with Tariqul Islam’s rivals.
The Mandals’ killings, among many others in this border belt, points to not just intra-Awami League rivalries over gold smuggling but to another inescapable fact – that neither the police nor the local people are willing to name the real gold smuggling kingpins.
However, media inquiries revealed that after he fled across the India-Bangladesh border on January 17, Tariqul was nabbed by the West Bengal police at Amarpur village in Nadia.
Reports in a Bangladeshi Bengali daily suggest that an average of 60-70 men from most villages on the Bangladesh side of the border are involved in gold smuggling, if only as couriers of the yellow metal that has high demand in West Bengal.
Gold, mostly in the form of biscuits but sometimes as bars, are brought in from Dubai on flights to Dhaka from where they get distributed to different parts of the border, especially in the Jessore, Khulna and Magura sectors.
While Anar’s alleged ‘murder’ (said to have been committed on May 13 in a Kolkata apartment) may likely be linked to the cross-border multi-crore gold smuggling, media has reliably learnt that the Jhenaidah unit of Bangladesh’s Cyber Crime Investigation Cell (CCIC) received a message on May 13 that Awami League MP Anwarul Azim Anar was missing in Kolkata.
The CCIC unit tracked the location of the MP’s Bangladeshi SIM and shared its report with its Dhaka-based headquarters which in turn informed the Detective Branch led by Additional Commissioner Harun-ur Rashid.
CCIC sources were chary to disclose how ‘investigators’ were able to confirm that the MP was missing when a missing person’s report was filed on May 18 in Kolkata.
The missing person’s report was filed by Anar’s long-time ‘business’ associate Gopal Biswas, a resident of Mandalpara Lane in North Kolkata’s Baranagar. Biswas’ report was essentially a General Diary report, a copy of which is available with media.
Biswas report provided details related to Anar’s entry into West Bengal via the Darshana-Gede border, the time that the Bangladeshi MP reached his house on May 12, his supposed plans to consult a doctor on May 13 and his subsequent disappearance.
But the message received by the Jhenaidah CCIC unit gives a surprising – and intriguing – twist to the case, considering that the Bangladesh Detective Branch sprang into action once the West Bengal CID declared (on May 22) that it feared that Anar was missing and that he may have been murdered.

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