June 24, 2024, 12:12 pm

Gang culture getting reckless

  • Update Time : Saturday, May 18, 2024
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Around 237 teenage gangs active across the country

TDS Desk:

Whenever crimes involving muggings, drug dealings, land grabbing, harassing women and such, occur in any area, the names of ‘teen gangs’ crop up. Even a decade ago it was one criminal terror gang or the other that was involved in these incidents. Now these so-called teen gangs have taken over the turf. Though dubbed as ‘teen gangs’, most of the gang members are over 18.

In April this year, an important government agency involved in controlling crime, submitted a special report regarding the activities of the teens gangs to the home ministry. The report stated that there were around 237 ‘teen gangs’ in the country at present, with the highest number of the gangs, 127, in Dhaka city. The number of members of these gangs totaled 1,382. The next highest number of these gangs, at 57, is in Chattogram. There are 316 persons involved in these gangs.

According to the report, other than in Dhaka and Chattogram, there are teen gangs active under various names in Gazipur and Khulna. These gangs are getting involved in serious crimes such a murder and rape too. They are also involved in fights among themselves.

The activities of teen gangs are increasing in the district towns too. For instance, on 18 April in Senbagh upazila, Noakhali, the so-called F-10 teen gang got involved in infighting over setting up stalls in the Baishakhi mela (Bangla New Year fair) there. One of their own 18-year-old gang members was hacked to death during the fight.

Earlier, on 29 January, a 20-year-old youth was killed during clashes between two teen gangs in Noakhali Sadar upazila. They were fighting over control of the area, according to local police.

After those two incidents involving teen gangs in Noakhali, fingers were pointed and a number of local Awami League leaders for aiding and abetting these gangs. The police at the time said that if the guilty persons were named, they would be arrested. But other than some members of the two gangs involved in the killings, no powerful leaders (allegedly involved in backing the gangs) have been arrested as yet.

The report submitted to the home minister regarding teen gangs says that while members of these gangs are often arrested, the ‘godfathers’ remain out of reach. The report recommends that stern action be taken against these godfathers who shelter and protect these gangs.

A Bengali daily on 16 February ran a report, ‘Complicit in crimes: 21 Dhaka councilors patronise teen gangs’. The report stated that these gangs did not spring up overnight. Due to the backing of politicians and the inaction of the police, these gangs have grown extremely dangerous. They pose as serious threats to the people of various localities.

Certain information from police investigations was used in the Prothom Alo report. It was said, towards the end of 2022 Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) had prepared a report on teen gangs. The report stated that there were at least 176 teen gangs around the country. There were 66 in the capital and 57 in Chattogram.

Scrutinising the details of the report, however, it was seen that over the past one and a half years, in Dhaka city alone the number of teen gangs increased by 61, now standing at 127. Similarly, teen gangs all over the country have increased by 64, now standing at 237.

DMP sources say, of all the killings that took place in Dhaka city in 2023, teen gangs were involved in 25. It has been seen that the gangs engaged in violent turf wars to gain control of different areas.

On 7 February this year, a youth named Jamal Hossain was stabbed and killed in Jatrabari of the capital in a ‘senior-junior’ conflict between two factions of a teen gang, according to police. On 5 April a dentist Korban Ali in Chattogram city was injured when attempting to rescue his son from members of a teen gang. He later succumbed to his wounds and died in hospital.

After this incident, speaking on 16 April at the district law and order committee, Chattogram district commissioner Abul Bashar Mohammad Fakhruzzaman said that the manner in which the teen gangs have grown is alarming. Innocent citizens, physicians, businessmen, teachers, no one is being spared by these gangs.

Earlier, on 22 March, a Bengali daily newspaper carried a news-report saying that ‘ Teen gangs under the shelter of 64 ‘big brothers’ in Chattogram’. Quoting the police, the report stated that 64 ‘big brothers’ including 5 ward commissioners of Chattogram city corporation were backing these teen gangs.

On 10 May, a Bengali daily carried a report ‘ Scared of even mentioning Julo Bahini’s name’. Julo’s full name is Partho Chowdhury alias Mohsin Chowdhury alias Julo. In Patia, Chattogram, everyone knows him to be the head of the ‘Julo Bahini’. This gang has 150 members. They are involved in drag dealing, mugging, robbery, land grabbing, harassing women and other crimes.

In the report submitted to the home ministry, it was said that students of the same educational institution, of the same locality and other misguided youth get together to form these gangs with catchy names. They often open accounts on social media like Facebook under those names. For example, certain criminal youth gangs in Mohammedpur have names such as Film Jhijhir, Star Bond, Group-25, Lara De, Level High, Dekhe Lau-Chine Lau, Kopaiya De, etc.

According to the report, some of the gangs in Uttara are called 9-Star, Power Boys, Bill Boss, 9MM Boys, Sujon Fighter, Castle Boys, Altaf-0, Viper, Tufan and Tri Goal. In Mirpur there is Sumon Gang, Pichchi Babu, Bihari Russel, Bichchu Bahini, Saiful Gang, Babu Rajon, Ripon Gang, Shabbir Gang, Nayan Gang and Mobarak Gang.

The gangs in Dhanmondi are AK-47, 9MM and 5-Star Bond. In Bangshal there is Jummon Gang, in Tejgaon there is Mainuddin Gang, in Mugda there is Chan Jadu, David King Fall Party, Volume-2 and Bhandari. There are other gangs all over the country with strange names, involved in all sorts of crime. Police sources say there gang also work on hire.

The prime minister at the meeting told the home ministry to pay particular attention to the matter of managing the juvenile offenders. She said, they should undergo correctional programmes rather than be made hardened criminals

How it all started:

In January 2017, schoolboy Adnan Kabir was beaten up and stabbed to death in a playing ground in Uttara. It was basically from them that the ferocity of the teen gangs came to light.

After this incident, in a drive conducted by RAB, eight members of the gangs ‘Disco Boys’ and ‘9-Star Group’ were arrested. They came out on bail and started threatening Adnan’s family. The family had to leave Uttara in fear.

In 2019 it was found out that such teen gangs had spread throughout the country. In June that year, a youth named Rifat Sharif was brutally hacked to death in front of Barguna Government College. A video of the incident went viral. After Rifat’s killing, it was learnt that there was a gang called ‘007’ in Barguna. It has 106 members in its Messenger group. The head of the hang was Shabbir Ahmed alias Nayan Bond. Nayan Bond and his 007 gang came into the limelight nationwide after the Rifat killing. On 2 July that year Nayan was killed in a gunfight with police.

In the report submitted to the home ministry, it was said that though initially the gang culture may have been formed out of a sense of ‘heroism’, these gangs have now become involved in all sorts of heinous crimes. And aided and abetted by political party ‘big brothers’, these teen gangs gain a sense of power and carry of organised crime.

On 23 March this year, DMP commissioner Md Habibur Rahman instructed the officers-in-charge (OCs) of all police stations in the capital Dhaka to clamp down on the team gang activities. Speaking at DMP’s monthly crime review meeting that day, he said steps will even be taken against the OCs of the areas where there are teen gangs.

Cabinet discussion:

During the 8 April cabinet meeting, in an unscheduled discussion prime minister Sheikh Hasina issued directives to take measures to tackle the teen gangs. She said that the juvenile offenders should not be mixed up with other criminals. Special facilities such as counselling and training must be arranged for them, she said.

The prime minister at the meeting told the home ministry to pay particular attention to the matter of managing the juvenile offenders. She said, they should undergo correctional programmes rather than be made hardened criminals. She said that they should not be kept with the other convicts in prison.

Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan said that, the law enforcement agencies are working on uprooting the teen criminal gangs. Speaking over mobile on 13 May, he said, “We are told the district police and OCs to remain alert in this regard. However, local representatives, teachers, guardian and others must come forward along with the police to uproot the teen gangs.”

It is clear that there are individuals who are using the teen gangs for their own interests and financial gain. Unless these sources of financial profit can be blocked and legal action taken, it will not be easy to resolve the issue, said, Tawohidul Haque, associate professor, Institute of Social Welfare and Research, Dhaka University.

Recommendations:

The special report submitted by the government agency regarding juvenile crime, also put forward a number of recommendations. Children should not be just thrust into the unhealthy competition of getting a GPA-5 score in the teams, but be encouraged to take part in extracurricular activities such as sports, drama, debate, scouting and other healthy recreations. Entry of the NID must be ensured for in the using of internet and apps that may be harmful to adolescents must be identified and blocked.

The law enforcement drives against teen gangs in various localities must continue and the teen gang ‘hotspots’ must be identified and measures taken accordingly. In the sermons after Friday jumma prayers, the bad effects of teen gangs must be highlighted along with promoting religious and ethical values.

The report recommended that the environment of juvenile correctional facilities should promote the physical and mental development of the young. Care must be taken so that these correctional facilities do not become torture cells and places of mental mistreatment. It was said that the traffic sergeants can also keep watch on the teen gangs when they recklessly race with their motorbikes. There needs to be research by social scientists and relevant experts regarding the reason behind the emergence and growth of teen gangs.

Fear of increased crime:

The report submitted to the home ministry says that the members of the teen gangs in Dhaka and Chattogram as well as other places in the country are becoming increasingly reckless. It said that the gang members are sometimes have political protection or are used by other mainstream criminals. They get involved in mugging, extortion, drugs, abduction, rape, gun trade and harassing women and girls of their localities. Their activities are creating unrest and fear in society. Unless the teen gangs are controlled, there is fear that such crime will simply continue to spiral.

The report said that due to the teen gang criminal activities, order and discipline in education institutions is deteriorating and health educational environment is getting destroyed. The people are scared of being mugged, girls being abducted or acid being thrown at them on the streets.

Speaking to reporters about the teen gangs spiralling out of control, associate professor at Dhaka University’s Institute of Social Welfare and Research, Tawohidul Haque said, those who are creating the gangs and lending them patronage, remain at a distance from facing the law. The law enforcement agencies must nab those who are behind the scenes. Also, if a culture of social guidance and values is strongly built up, then an environment will emerge where juvenile crime can be brought under control. But given the extreme degree that such crime has reached, it is essential for the state to take even stronger measures. This includes establishing a juvenile prison, updating the juvenile correctional centres to make them effective.

Expert on criminal matters, Tawohidul Haque says that the teen gang problem will not be resolved unless the law is sternly applied against those behind them wielding political power and identity. He said, it is clear that there are individuals who are using the teen gangs for their own interests and financial gain. Unless these sources of financial profit can be blocked and legal action taken, it will not be easy to resolve the issue. Source: a Bengali daily

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