Delwar Hossain, prime accused in the recent gang rape of a woman in Noakhali, engaged in various crimes under the patronage of local politicians from both the ruling Awami League and the BNP.
Born in a poor family, Delwar began earning at an early age after the death of his father. “He used to drive a CNG-run auto-rickshaw. At that time, he became close to a criminal who was involved in local BNP politics. This is when he stepped into the world of crime,” said Saidur Rahman, general secretary of Ward-8 AL in Begumganj upazila’s Eklaspur union.
After the 2014 elections, Delwar started approaching local AL politicians. He then joined the Jubo League’s politics under the patronage of Begumganj Union Krishak League Chairperson Alamgir Kabir Alo, and AL President of Ward-4 Zahir, he said.
At this point in time, Delwar engaged more prominently in different criminal activities in his area. And then “Delwar Bahini” began its journey, Saidur said
The “Bahini” has around 40-50 members, he said, adding, “They commit crimes like rape and extortion in the neighbourhood, a glimpse of which we’ve seen recently,” said Saidur.
A video clip where a woman is seen being torture has gone viral recently, drawing condemnations from across the country and beyond. Locals said the incident happened in Noakhali and those torturing the women were Delwar’s accomplices.
Before joining the AL youth wing’s politics, Delwar used to be a follower of BNP-leaning criminal “Khalashi” Sumon, local politicians claimed. Sumon has 36 criminal cases against him, they added.
“That is when he stopped driving the CNG [auto-rickshaw] and started earning through harassment and extortion,” Saidur said.
Locals sources said Delwar and other members of the Sumon’s gang had “blessings” from several local BNP leaders.
All people, from several villages in the upazila, interviewed by our correspondent attested to the fact that “Delwar Bahini” used to be the bone in their throat, to the point where they were scared of him.
A 70-year-old man from Joykrishnapur village said on condition of anonymity that Delwar used to recruit youths of the village into his “Bahini” using drugs.
“Nobody complained to the police because he was truly someone to be afraid of. And so he became this person with impunity,” said the man.
Locals of Eklaspur, Anantapur and Joykrishnapur villages said Delwar took photos with local parliamentarian from Noakhali-3 constituency, Mamunur Rashid Kiron, as well as upazila-level AL leaders, and then printed them onto posters and banners and distributed them across the villages. Even though he held no positions in Jubo League, he was known as a Jubo League leader.
During the 2015 Union Parishad elections, he threatened voters inside voting centres with his gun, intimidating them into voting for the local Krishak League representative Alo.
Delwar’s Facebook profile is a testament to his current political leanings — his whole profile is plastered with photos with local AL leaders as well as photos of AL symbols and imagery.
Contacted, Eklashpur Union Jubo League’s Coordinator Naimuddin Rasel said Delwar used the ruling party’s “signboard” to extort rickshaw-pullers and CNG drivers in the area, grab land and rob fisheries. “In March 2018, he was made the prime accused in a double murder case, as well as in the murder of an individual named Shariful Hasan. But in spite of being a murder suspect, he was never arrested and he used to move about freely in the village,” said Rasel.
The double murder happened on March 10, 2018, around 10:00pm. Delwar and other followers of “Khalashi” Sumon allegedly went to the house of two of the followers of an opposing gang called “Shamrat Bahini” and shot them dead, said local sources.
The sources said by that Sumon had already leaned towards AL politicians, leaving the company of BNP leaders.
Contacted, Begumganj circle’s Additional Superintendent of Police Shahjahan Sheikh said, “Delwar is a wanted criminal in three cases, two for murder and one for possessing illegal arms.” When asked why he was never arrested, the police official said, “He was never in the village, always in hiding.”
This statement, however, differs vastly from that of the locals who described his presence in the village as omnipotent.
“So afraid are the villagers of him that when the police’s deputy inspector general [DIG] of Chittagong range came to the village to investigate yesterday, this person whose fishery was robbed by Delwar, lied and told the DIG that he does not know who took his fish,” said Rasel.
Begumganj Upazila AL President and Chairperson of Noakhali Zila Parishad Dr ABM Jafar Ullah also confirmed that Delwar was a criminal on the rise.
“I do not agree that he was aided or abetted by the ruling party. He used to take photos with the party members and used it to spread propaganda about himself,” he said.
Eklaspur Union’s Krishak League Chairperson Alamgir Kabir Alo said he did not help Delwar join the ruling party politics. “My competitors are spreading misinformation about me, I don’t have any relationship with Delwar,” he said.
AL President of Ward-4 Zahir could not be reached for comments.
Meanwhile, police arrested two more people in connection with the incident of the gang-rape and torture of the woman in Begumganj upazila of Noakhali.
The arrestees are: Noor Hosen Rasel, 30, and Sohag, 21, reports our correspondent, quoting Officer-in-Charge of Begumganj Model Police Station Harunur Rashid Chowdhury.
Begumganj police arrested the duo during a drive in Eklashpur village last night, the OC said.
Rasel and Sohag are not mentioned in the case statement, said Md Alamgir Hosen, superintendent of police (SP) in Noakhali.
“But we found their involvement in the incident during the investigation,” the SP said, adding that their names would be included in the case.
The duo will be produced before the court following interrogation by police, OC Harunur Rashid Chowdhury said.
In addition, the gang-rape survivor filed a rape case against Delwar, chief of “Delwar Bahini”, and his second-in-command Abul Kalam, last night with Begumganj Model Police Station.
Delwar, who is already in police custody, will be shown arrested in the rape case, the OC said, adding that police were trying to arrest Abul Kalam.