Teen gangs have been emerging across the country for quite some time to be involved in various crimes, including robbery, murder, rape and turf war.
With the emergence of such gangs, as many teenagers are being initiated into crimes at an early stage of life it would be difficult to rehabilitate them, fear experts.
Academics and criminologists blamed the weakening role of the family, lack of moral lessons at home and in the school, absence of recreational activities, both social and cultural, social degradation, unlimited access to the Internet as well as the stagnant political situation for the growth of the ‘youth-gang culture’ in the country.
Mawlana Bhashani Science and Technology University criminology department chairman Abdul Kader Miah told New Age that porn addiction and other misuse of android phones were, too, contributing to the criminal activities by youngsters at a time when the state was not performing its responsibility to groom its future generation.
The recent surge in teen-gang violence has apparently become a major concern for law enforcement authorities also.
The Rajshahi Metropolitan Police have recently cracked down on such gangs in the city when nearly 400 teenagers were detained. Over 300 of them were released later to their parents and the rest were charged with different crimes.
Some teenagers are getting involved, RMP commissioner Abu Kalam Siddique told New Age, in both drug use and drug trade since Rajshahi is a bordering area.
They are also getting engaged in bike racing and in terrorizing streets.
He said that some of these gangs were graduated from social-media groups.
‘We observed that some teenagers stayed out at night. So we have called the detained juveniles’ parents and requested them to look out for their children so that they do not get involved in teen gangs,’ he said.
Teenagers in the capital and elsewhere form gangs with attractive names and they run amok in residential areas and even get involved in turf war with other such groups.
The Rapid Action Battalion has recently cracked one such teen gang named ‘The Boss’ in Uttarkhan of the capital after a college student named Md Sohag was murdered there on August 28.
RAB-1 director lieutenant colonel Shafi Ullah Bulbul said that the gang had 10-12 young members, led by Rasel and Hridoy.
Two of the gang have been accused of murdering Sohag who protested their torture of a rickshaw-puller as mud splashing from his rickshaw wheels hit some of them.
According to police and locals, at least 50 gangs are operating in Dhaka and adjacent districts and are involved in crimes ranging from mugging, stalking, snatching, extortion, drug trade and abuse, and even killing in conflicts with rivals, often as part of their turf war.
Police on October 6 arrested four of a teen gang from Ashulia on the outskirts of Dhaka after they posted online a video they had filmed while raping two girls.
More than 12 members of the gang, known as The Price Gang, took away the girls while they were hanging out with their friends and raped them and filmed the incidents, said police.
The male friends of the victims were also beaten by the gang members, said police.
Locals alleged that there were several teenage gangs active in Savar and Ashulia areas for months and police were seen reluctant to take actions against them.
Ashulia unit Juba League convener Abul Hossain had been patronising one such gang for years in order to establish his supremacy in the area.
Abul and his three associates were arrested in late September after they reportedly kidnapped a teenager named Sabuj, hailing from Lalmonirhat, and tortured him to death for ransom.
Locals said that Abul had been patronising the gang to use it for grabbing land and establishing control over the area’s RMG wastage (jhut) business.
Contacted, Dhaka police superintendent Maruf Hossain Sorder said that they were alert and taking actions when any such teenage-gang crime took place.
Dhaka University sociology department professor Nehal Karim told New Age that Indian private satellite channels and excessive online use are two major reasons for such a rise in teenage gang culture.
Lack of monitoring in case of both parents working and absence of outdoor recreational facilities are also worsening the situation, Professor Nehal added.
He also pointed out political backing for such gangs.
The murder of youth Rifat Sharif in Barguna in June 26, 2019, was an alarming outcome of the teen-gang culture, criminologists said.
Ayesha Siddika Minni, widow of slain Rifat, and five others have recently been sentenced to death for killing the youth in broad daylight in Barguna in June last year.
Besides, 14 juveniles are facing charges and awaiting verdict over the murder.
Nayan alias Nayan Bond — who was later killed in a gunfight with police — had been running the teenage gang reportedly backed by Sunam Debnath, Barguna unit Awami League leader and son of Barguna-1 lawmaker Dhirendra Debnath Shambhu.
When approached, police headquarters assistant inspector general for media Sohel Rana told New Age that wherever teenage gangs were found active and involved in crimes, police took legal actions.
‘Many such gang members have already been arrested across the country on various allegations, including snatching, hijacking and eve-teasing. Besides, police awareness campaigns on social media platforms and in the media are going on,’ he said.
Police authorities, criminologists and sociologists stressed the need for a social awareness movement, the family to give the children adequate quality time, teaching them to inculcate moral values, increasing physical and recreational activities, identifying and properly booking the gang members and, proper correctional activities to get out of the situation.
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