Is it even possible to stop alcohol, gambling, and drugs?
Let’s call “chandabaji” extortion.
Day in and day out, we Bengalis are surrounded by thousands of extortionists. From a small roadside trader to a big industrialist to a person building his or her own house to a family moving to a new location with a truckload of household goods -- everyone is subject to extortion in this society.
You have to appease someone in order to earn your livelihood, in order to survive. You do all the hard work, but the hounds, who do nothing and who don’t have the skills to earn their own living in a decent way, jump on you and snatch away your hard-earned income.
In reality, those extortionists should have been living like parasites in the society. Their only ability is that somehow they have earned a position in a certain political party or they have achieved a closeness to a few politicians who run the country.
Unfortunately, in a contradictory society like ours, these parasites have been ruling the roost; they have been portraying themselves as achievers in society. What irony! What a monstrous society we have created.
If those monsters cannot be stopped, our society is not likely to sustain. We are bound to perish, and no one in history will remember us, our national achievements.
Some of these persons, reportedly, had torture chambers for those who wouldn’t comply with their illegal demands. They used to torture the victims who wouldn’t pay them.
The recent drives against them have come as welcome news for members of the public. The common people and traders will be happier if these drives continue until the open practice of extortion is brought under some control.
We would love to see the party in power identify such elements within them and sever any ties they might have with them. If the party doesn’t shelter them, the extortionists won’t be able to get away with their illegal activities.
In the meantime, law enforcers have unearthed that those extortionists used to run illegal businesses as well. They have been running illegal casinos in many places across Dhaka city.
The sports clubs have also been found running illegal gambling inside their establishments. As reported in the media, and given the nature of these illegal places for gambling, it looks like these casinos had been operating for a long time.
Their existence should not have been unknown, either to the police or the party in power. Some media reports have also claimed that many members of the parliament, police, and journalists were involved with those illegal casinos.
We are told that gambling is illegal in our society. This reminded me of games we used to play in our childhood. We played with marbles, stones, and empty cigarette packs. The winner used to take all the marbles, stones, and cigarette packs at the end of the game.
Wasn’t the basic idea of those games similar to that of gambling? So, we usually have our orientation in gambling at a very tender age. So, gambling isn’t new in this country. We have thousands of small and medium casinos across the country. And everybody knows that.
Our tourism secretary, meanwhile, suggested that we should legalize casinos in the tourist spots. Some ministers have opposed the idea. We’re not sure about the impact of legalized casinos in Bangladesh, but it would be fatal for the low-income group of population of the society.
Nay, legalizing casinos wouldn’t a good idea for Bangladesh; we won’t be able to handle them.
The law enforcers also ran drives in bars where they sold alcoholic beverages. Alcohol has a religious and social taboo in this country. Despite having two legalized manufacturers in the country, we are not allowed to consume alcoholic beverages.
You can only consume them if your doctor allows you to if he or she thinks alcohol is required for your health. What hypocrisy! Alcoholic beverages are likely to make a healthy person ill and we have discovered a mechanism to consume alcohol on health grounds.
On the surface, we are a non-alcoholic nation, but beneath the surface, for many, life doesn’t move without alcohol. So, there has to be a way for consuming alcohol.
We also produce many indigenous alcoholic beverages across the country. But you cannot talk about it, because the image of your Muslim identity would be tarnished. Funny, isn’t it?
There’s no denying that there’s a great demand for alcohol in this country. If you ban alcohol here, people will travel to neighbouring countries, where they sell them in the grocery stores and have pubs where alcohol is easily available.
There’s also no denying that, despite our religious identity, we will continue to consume alcohol. Therefore, there’s a need to realize the demand and do something about consuming alcohol in a better way.
Oops! Did I say something wrong? Of course, I did! How could you promote alcohol in this religious country?
Drives against yaba and other drugs have been going on for quite some time now. Some yaba traders have also died in shootouts with law enforcers. Has the smuggling of yaba stopped in this country? Have the yaba-consumers stopped taking yaba?
Yes, there’s a demand for yaba and our efforts couldn’t prevent the consumption. Alcoholic beverages are way less harmful than yaba and other drugs. Malaysia could do away with dangerous drugs by allowing alcoholic beverages.
No matter how tough you become, people will always feel like gambling and consuming alcohol.
Ekram Kabir is a story-teller. His other works can be found on ekramkabir.com.