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Top ruling party leader in Bangladesh arrested for running illegal casinos

A senior leader of Bangladesh''s ruling party was arrested on Sunday for his alleged links to the underworld and running illegal casinos here as the government recently launched a massive anti-corruption clampdown largely targeting its own controversial activists.

The Rapid Action Battalion or RAB arrested Jubo League Dhaka South unit's President Ismail Hossain Samrat and his associate Enamul Hoque Arman from central Comilla district''s Chauddagram Upazila.

Jubo League is the youth wing of the ruling Bangladesh Awami League.
"A mobile court magistrate, for the time being, sent him (Samrat) to jail with six months imprisonment on charges of wildlife law violation and illegal possession of alcoholic drinks after the RAB men raided his office. Process is underway to expose him for other charges as well," a RAB spokesman said.

RAB''s unit commander Lieutenant Colonel Sarwar Bin Kashem said firearm with five bullets, 30 liquor bottles, over 1,000 contraband Yaba pills, kangaroo skin, torture equipment were seized during the five-hour-long raid at Samrat''s "hideout".

According to new outlets, Samrat was one of the kingpins operating illegal casinos and extortion rackets for several years in the capital.

Samrat, believed to be in his early 50s, had gone into hiding after being suspected of running illegal casinos. On September 24, the police had issued a travel ban against him.
Soon after his arrest, the youth wing of the ruling party expelled Samrat for anti-social activities and breaching party discipline.

Gambling is illegal in the conservative Muslim majority Bangladesh.
Prime Minister Hasina last month launched an anti-graft drive. Samrat is the senior-most politician to be caught in the drive.

The law enforcement agencies have sealed off nearly a dozen illegal casinos mostly in leading sport clubs.

In the wake of the arrest of some ruling party leaders in the drive, Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir last month demanded the resignation of the government for widespread corruption and plundering.

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