The Rapid Action Battalion on Wednesday said that they had arrested Regent Group chairman Mohammad Shahed during a raid in Sathkhira while he was waiting to cross a river on India-Bangladesh border by boat avoiding arrest in a case for forging COVID-19 test certificates.
‘Shahed was trying to sneak into the neighbouring country through Sathkhira border but was captured at about 5:00am near a boarding canal in Kamarpur near Debhata border area by a team led by the RAB’s intelligence wing director Lieutenant Colonel Sarwar Bin Quasem,’ RAB director general Chowdhury Abdulllah Al-Mamun told a press conference at its headquarters in Dhaka city later on the day.
RAB officials said that he disguised as a woman and was in a burqa while he was waiting for the boat to cross the river Isamoti with the help of smugglers when they spotted him.
The arrested, Shahed Karim alias Mohammad Shahed, faces over 50 cases, mostly related to fraudulence, was carrying a gun with bullets during his arrest as a photo shared by RAB showed him handcuffed and carrying gun on his waistband holster.
A case was under process in Satkhira over the recovered gun while the RAB in separate drive at a ‘secret’ office of Shahed in the capital’s Uttara has also seized fake currency of a total face value of Tk 1.46 lakh.
The RAB officially said that they were not sure about the total number of cases so far filed against him.
Shahed was transferred to the Detective Branch of Dhaka Metropolitan Police who was investigating the case against him and 16 others filed in Uttara on the charge of forging around 6,000 COVID-19 certificates and other related crimes filed on July 7, a day after the RAB had raided Regent Hospital in Uttara.
Before he tried to sneak into India, the RAB chief said, Shahed travelled to Cox’s Bazar, Cumilla and other places using different modes of transport to avoid arrest.
Asked how he could be with a gun when handcuffed, the RAB chief said he was not aware of it.
He said that the RAB arrested Regent Group’s managing director Masud Parvez on Tuesday and his tip-offs helped to make Shahed’s arrest.
Home minister Asaduzzaman Khan told reporters at the secretariat that Shahed was a criminal and he was involved in many scams and action would be taken so that he would not repeat his acts while information minister Muhammad Hasan Mahmud, in a separate briefing, said that Shahed was spotted by the government and arrested too.
Later in the day, a footage went viral on social media in which Shahed was seen beaten by a man with a stick in the presence of RAB personnel.
He was later flown to Dhaka by a helicopter.
RAB personnel arrest Regent Hospital owner Md Shahed Karim in Indian border in Satkhira on Wednesday. — Focus Bangla photo
The RAB took Shahed to its headquarters for interrogation after the helicopter landed at Dhaka’s old airport in Tejgaon around 8:30am.
At about 5:15pm, the RAB-1 took Shahed and his group’s managing director Parvej to Dhaka Medical College Hospital as he complained of chest pain. Their echocardiogram and X-ray were performed.
They would be handed over to the DB, said the RAB officials.
RAB director general said that the Regent Hospital and its branches collected a total of 10,000 samples for COVID-19 tests and issued fake reports against 6,000 of them without conducting any examinations.
The RAB chief said the report should have been given free as per the contract with the health ministry, but the hospital charged Tk 3,500 to 4,000 per patient and took Tk 1,000 for retest.
He said that Shahed was accused in over 50 cases and he cheated people by opening multi-level marketing services.
With his arrest, the RAB has apprehended so far 10 out of 17 suspects named in a case filed following the raid at Regent Hospital branches in Uttara and Mirpur in the capital on July 6.
The RAB on July 7 and 8 sealed off Regent Group’s headquarters in Dhaka and two hospitals.
Regent Hospital chairman Shahed, who introduced himself as political analyst and a member of Awami League foreign affairs subcommittee, signed an agreement with Directorate General of Health Services to provide COVID-19 treatments in March.
But a mobile court, led by RAB executive magistrate Sarwoer Alam, found that the hospitals were operating without a license and issued around 6,000 COVID-19 certificates without conducting the tests.
A case was filed with Uttara West police station on the following day against Shahed and 16 other officials and staff members in charge of issuing fake COVID-19 certificates, charging fees for free testing and providing substandard health services.
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