Height of corruption

A large number of the leaders of Awami League and their henchmen took full advantage of the liberation war and got involved in rampant corruption.

These unscrupulous corrupt political leaders and their henchmen were bringing bad name to the nation with their shameless extravagant life style. This was a great insult to the straggle and the freedom fighters. Crores of rupees were looted. From Bagora State Bank alone 56 crores of rupees were looted. Mostly the political leaders in connivance with the bureaucrats of the local administration were involved in these loot and plunder. In few exceptional cases some members of the armed forces also got involved in such kind of activities. The Awami League government never bothered to provide any accountability to the people regarding those huge amounts and the outrageous living style of the looters neither in exile nor in independent Bangladesh. However, the truth can never be covered up with made up stories. With the passage of time the people could see through the way some political leaders and their henchmen and some bureaucrats became over night millionaires. They became owners of houses, cars, and properties, fat bank balances. During the struggle period at one stage the freedom fighters thought of eliminating these corrupt elements from all tiers of the leadership and recover the looted fortunes to be utilized for the war efforts. The matter was raised with Col. Osmani. He was told that these corrupt lots should not be allowed to remain at the helms. They were defaming our struggle home and abroad. Taking advantage of the greed and weaknesses of such leaders the entire nation could be easily black mailed by the interested quarters at any point of time. He found our submission reasonable. But he held the view that if we start fighting amongst ourselves on the foreign land, we may get derailed from our main goal, thus our cause may suffer. Certainly these dishonest lots should be taken to task, but that should be done after the independence. We were asked to have patience. But unfortunately none of the culprits could be brought to task as these unscrupulous criminals purchased most of the important and influential people in the corridors of power. When the protectors become the usurpers the situation becomes hopeless. That was what exactly happened in the newly independent Bangladesh. Not only that loot and plunder of the national wealth further intensified and crossed all limits. Thus Col. Osmani’s pledge proved to be nothing more than wishful thinking in the post independent Bangladesh I would now narrate a few episodes to explain how the image of the freedom fighters and the nation got unduly tarnished by the looters.

These looters were than well known as the ‘Shetts’ from ‘Joy Bangla’ in the restaurants, clubs, bars and hotels of the posh Park Street of Calcutta for their extravaganza and lavish way of spending. Whereever they went they spent money like water. They lived in expensive hotels or posh flats. In the evening hotel Grand, Princes, Mags, Trincas, Blue fox and other bars got over crowded with all these shetts from Joy Bangla. They were great connoisseurs of foreign drinks, expensive cuisine, band music and live shows. The waiters and the waitresses eagerly waited and became very happy to receive these guests as they always tipped them handsomely every time they moved in and out. One of such Shett was a regular customer along with his friends and companions at the bar of hotel Grand. He somehow managed a lion share of the looted money from Bogra State Bank. He had about 4/5 crores with him. One day at about midnight he went to the bar and ordered the bar man to serve him and his companions. The bartender apologetically said he could not serve them as the bar had been already closed. Bengali Shett was furious at his refusal and started shouting at the top of his voice. Ofcourse, he was drunk. While talking all non-sense he asked the bartender to call for the manager. As the customer was a valued client the bar tender digested the nuisance and called the manager. The Shett asked the manager,

"How much is your sale at the bar everyday?"

The manger gave him an approximate figure. The Shett then told the manager that from the next day the bar would not sell to any other customer but to him and his friends only and he would pay that amount. He further said that should they fail to consume all in the bar then remaining drinks should be poured into his bathtub. The manager and the bartender were astonished at such a outrageous demand. They some how got away from that scene considering the state of their valued customer.

Another such Shett of Joy Bangla threw a grand party in the Blue Fox inviting about 100 guests to celebrate his only son’s shoe wearing occasion. Many bought properties at Calcutta, Bombay and Delhi. Some invested huge sums in the lucrative Bollywood film industry. Shaheed Zahir Raihan was making a documentary on these activities of the Mujibnagar elites and thier life style. Many were displeased at his venture. Some considered this to be an outrageous act. This venture of his could be the cause for his mysterious disappearance just immediately after the independence. One of such Shett presented a necklace of diamond, worth 9 lacs of rupees to one of his favoutite heroine at her birthday. Families of the most of the cabinet Ministers and the important personalities of the provisional government were then housed at Dargah Road. One Bishu Babu had many houses on that road. Black steel trunks full of money were kept in those houses of Bishu Babu and at 3 Surhwardy Avenue. Two rooms on the 2nd floor that is rooftop of 3 Surhwardy Avenue were stuffed with those black steel trunks. Mr. Assaduzzaman Khan, the finance secretary and his family and miss Rafi Akhtar Dolly used to live there. . The mony used to be exchanged in the black market at Bara Bazar through the Marwaris. Some became over night millionaires just being the middlemen in the exchange deals. But there were a few black sheep’s amongst the freedom fighters as well. One such commander failed to control his greed and usurped some gold ornaments belonging to the wife of a non Bengali CSP officer’s pregnant wife after she was brutally killed. Col. Osmani removed this very shameless commander from command as a punishment. Such elements were nothing but renegades and an apology of a freedom fighter. However, image of the freedom fighters got tarnished to some extent because of such blacksheeps.

There were many scandals about the misappropriation of relief materials and supplies at the youth and refugee camps as well.

Large Scale misappropriation of the relief materials took place. About 10 million refugees took shelter in India. Indian government received huge amount of relief materials in kind and cash from all over the world. But a small fraction of this humanitarian aid was distributed among the needy refugees. The concerned authorities of Indian and provisional Bangladesh government that were jointly responsible for their distribution misappropriated Lion share. Other than Bogra State Bank substantial amounts were also looted from Chittagong and Pabna treasuries.