Rapid Action Battalion on Friday arrested 27 suspected ‘homosexual’ youths who gathered in a community centre at Keraniganj of the capital for an over-night networking party.
The battalion officials also prosecuted the community centre manager, Jashim Uddin, for providing them shelter in exchange for money.
They seized 25 pieces of condom, and two tubes of lubricant, 45 pieces of yaba tablets and 2.5 grams of marijuana from the procession of the youths.
The officials said they raided the community centre at Atibazar about 3:00am on information that some youths had gathered there from different parts of the country and were abusing drugs.
‘We found many of them abusing drugs. And during interrogation, they admitted that they were homosexuals,’ said Jahangir Hossain Matubbar, commanding officer of RAB-10.
‘We found condoms and lubricating gel from the youths during the drive,’ he said.
He said that the youths used to gather at Chhaya Neer Community Centre every two months or one-and-a-half month making contact through mobile phone and social media, including Facebook.
They rented the community centre at Tk 10,000, he said, adding, ‘We detained the manager of the community centre in this connection.’
Another RAB official at Keraniganj said the youths would be prosecuted for using illegal drug as they were not found involved in homosexual activities during the raid.
An LGBTI activist, who attended the party and had left before the raid, told New Age it was a networking party but a few youth created scene which invited police.
More than 100 LGBTI activists, and gay and transgender joined the party with Tk 200 tickets.
Bangladeshi law bars homosexuality and other aberrant sexual activities and many of the LGBT activists fled the country or went into hiding after the killing of one of their top campaigners by suspected extremists last year.
Xulhas Mannan, founder of Bangladesh’s only LGBT magazine Roopban, was hacked to death along with his friend Mahbub Tonoy by the alleged extremists at his Dhaka residence on April 25, 2016.
The magazine had been launched in 2014 to promote greater acceptance of LGBT communities in Bangladesh.
Four days after the murders of Xulhas and Tonoy, Ansar al-Islam, which claims it is linked to al-Qa’ida in the Indian subcontinent, released a statement claiming responsibility.
‘They need to be interrogated to check whether they are regrouping,’ said Jahangir.
Later on the day, the battalion officials handed them over to Keraniganj Police Station and said they would be produced before judicial magistrate court in Dhaka today.
The battalion havildar, Abu Bakr Siddiki, filed a case against the youths and the community centre manager under narcotic control act.
Keraniganj Model Police Station duty officer Sadiqur Rahman said the youths came from different part of the country but mostly from Rajshahi, Dhaka, Naogaon and Barisal.
He, however, said they launched investigation to find out what their reason to gather in the community centre was.
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