Commercially important person Saiful Karim was killed in police custody in a reported gunfight at Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar on Friday just after six days of his disappearance on arrival at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport from Yangon on May 25.
Two more suspected drug smugglers were killed in reported gunfights with Border Guard Bangladesh in Cox’s Bazar and Dinajpur on the same day, taking to 389 the number of people killed in the on-going nationwide anti-drug drive since May 15, 2018.
Teknaf police station officer-in-charge Pradip Kumar Das told New Age that they arrested Saiful Karim in Cox’s Bazar district headquarters at about 10:00pm on Thursday and took him to the Teknaf police station for interrogation.
‘In course of investigation,’ the police officer said, ‘we took him to a land port in the area in search of Yaba pills and firearms based on his tips. At one stage, his associates opened fire targeting us and he sustained bullet injuries. We rushed him to the upazila health complex. As his condition deteriorated, he was referred to the district hospital where he was declared dead.’
Asked whether the suspect was given bullet-proof jacket during the operation, Pradip turned angry and said, ‘Why should an accused put on a bullet-proof jacket? Even we don’t have those.’
Three bullets hit Saiful’s chest and one hit the head, according to hospital officials.
Pradip declined to comment when he was asked about Saiful’s reported arrest on May 25 on his arrival at the Dhaka airport from Yangon.
According to his boarding pass, he travelled to the Dhaka airport from Yangon in the afternoon.
On May 27, the Daily Amader Somoy carried a report stating that Saiful was in police custody and was preparing to surrender on a formal occasion.
On February 16, 102 Yaba smugglers and dealers surrendered to the police in the first phase at an event in Cox’s Bazar.
Neither the police headquarters nor Cox’s Bazar police authorities contradicted the report.
Saiful Karim, who was also known as Haji Saiful Karim and used to run the business firm SK International, reportedly flew abroad after the government had launched the anti-drug drive in May 2018.
Government-listed commercially important person Saiful Karim allegedly used SK International as a front to run Yaba smuggling from Myanmar, police officials said.
A senior police official in Chattogram range said that his death was a big loss, especially as it had lost the opportunities to find out his nexus with law enforcement agencies.
The official also said that Saiful developed an enmity with the then controversial Awami League lawmaker Abdur Rahman Bodi, the husband of current AL lawmaker Shahin Akter Chowdhury, five years ago over establishing supremacy at Teknaf, which controlled trade with Myanmar and fishing in the Bay of Bangal.
On Friday, the police said that three of their colleagues were injured during the ‘gunfight’ and they seized nine firearms, 42 bullets and one lakh Yaba tablets from the spot.
The Anti-Corruption Commission filed a case against Saiful in April, according to the media report.
His younger brothers, Mahbub and Rashed, were also arrested on May 3 with 10,000 Yaba pills and four firearms, in a police raid on their home at Teknaf. Saiful’s older brother Munna was arrested by the Detective Branch of police in 2018.
In another incident an unidentified Yaba peddling suspect was killed in a ‘gunfight’ with Border Guard Bangladesh in the Teknaf municipal area at about 8:15am on Friday.
Another Yaba peddling suspect, Delwar Hossain, 45, was killed in a reported gunfight with the border guards at Mongla village of Hakimpur in Dinajpur.
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