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Is Samrat the real casino king of Dhaka?

  • Published at 12:40 am September 23rd, 2019
WEB_ Samrat Ismail hossain chowdhury
File Photo: Ismail Hossain Chowdhury Samrat emerged as an influential leader of Jubo league during the Awami League regime of 1996-2001 Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

He was elected president of Jubo League’s Dhaka south city unit at the platform’s sixth council, held on July 14, 2012

The political journey of Dhaka south city unit Jubo League President Ismail Hossain Chowdhury Samrat started during the 1990 anti-Ershad movement. At that time, he was a prominent Chhatra League leader of the undivided Dhaka city unit.

Samrat was tasked with organizing protests in, and around the capital’s Ramna area. For his role during the mass uprising, he was tortured, and even jailed.

During the five-year tenure of BNP after autocratic ruler HM Ershad was toppled in 1990, Samrat was sued in a number of cases.

By the time Awami League President Sheikh Hasina was voted to power in the 1996 general election, Samrat had already joined Jubo League. During the 1996-2001 Awami League regime, he emerged as an influential leader of the youth front.

He was also a frontline leader during the 1/11 changeover. After the tenure of the last caretaker government, when Awami League came to power again, Samrat continued his rise through the ranks.

He was elected president of Jubo League’s Dhaka south city unit at the platform’s sixth council, held on July 14, 2012.

Samrat is a common face at major events of the ruling Awami League, leading processions to mark occasions.

His family background

Samrat is originally from East Saheb Nagar village of Mirza Nagar Union Parishad, under Parshuram upazila of Feni. He is the son of the late Fayez Uddin Chowdury, and the eldest of four siblings.

This Jubo League leader is usually accompanied by a massive entourage when he visits his home village. He is well known for his charity work in the locality, including donations to local mosques, and madrasas.

Another Juba League leader, Armanul Haq Arman, always accompanies Samrat whenever he visits Feni. Sources close to Samrat say, Arman is responsible for handling the Dhaka south Jubo League president’s financial transactions.

It is rumoured that Samrat has helped Arman, who is a contractor, win contracts of several important national-level development projects.

Interestingly, many Awami League and Juba League leaders of Feni claim that Samrat was seen campaigning for Khaleda Zia in the district before the ninth general elections.

Samrat draws Hasina’s ire

Awami League President Sheikh Hasina came down heavily on Samrat on September 11, 2018, when he and many other senior Juba League leaders went to call on her at Ganabhaban.

She ordered the dissolving of Jubo League’s south city committee after allegations surfaced that Samrat was obstructing the construction of a multi-storey building of a charity to extort them.

Jubo League President Mohammad Omar Faroque Chowdhury, and General Secretary Harun Or Rashid were present during the incident.

An underworld casino king?

Jubo League leader Samrat is said to be a mentor to Khalid Mahmud Bhuiyan, organizing secretary of Awami Jubo League’s Dhaka (South) unit, who was remanded on September 19 in four cases on various charges, including running an illegal casino in Dhaka.

Several media outlets have already dubbed Samrat a “casino king,” claiming no casino can be set up in Dhaka without his approval.

Samrat is a regular gambler, and he travels to Singapore very often. He reportedly spends at least one-third of each month gambling in Singapore, according to media reports.

He visits Marina Bay Sands Casino as a high-roller, even receiving limousine service from Changi Airport to the casino.

Arman and several other top Juba League leaders, including Mominul Haq Momin, allegedly accompany Samrat during the trips to, and from Singapore.