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Ties with ruling TMC, involvement in arms and gold smuggling: Meet Anwarul Azim Anar, the Bangladeshi MP slain in Kolkata

While West Bengal is already known as a safe haven of gangsters, terrorists, scammers, killers, smugglers, money-launderers and corrupts, Kolkata in particular has become the capital of such notoriety.

Anwarul Azim Anar, a three-time MP of the ruling Awami League who reportedly visited West Bengal in India for “medical treatment” was lured to a rented flat in New Town area of Kolkata by using a woman named Shilasti Rahman as bait where he was grisly murdered.

According to media reports, the West Bengal CID investigators have arrested the butcher involved in the killing, a Bangladeshi citizen, from Bangoan in North 24 Parganas district. The butcher was staying at the New Town flat for two and a half months before Anar’s killing. “He planned to run away either to Mumbai or to Bangladesh which he could not but his accomplices did”, said police.

It may be mentioned here that Anar was an MP from the Jhenaidah-4 constituency. This bordering area with India is known for its high crime rate. According to the latest report, Shilasti Rahman was staying in the flat number 56 of BU block of Sanjiba Garden, an elite residence in Newtown, Kolkata, where MP Anar was killed.

Details of the murder case

A senior official of the DB police said Shilasti Rahman is the girlfriend of MP Anar murder mastermind Akteruzzaman Shahin. Along with Amanullah Aman and MP Anar, she entered the Kolkata flat on May 13. Shahin used Shulasti as a ‘honey trap’ to take MP Anar from Dhaka to Kolkata.

After making all the plans, Shahin returned to Dhaka on May 15 leaving Shilasti in a Kolkata flat. She returned to Bangladesh on May 15.It is unknown how the owner of the posh apartment rented it to foreign nationals and if such practices, although illegal – are common in West Bengal and its capital Kolkata.

They were staying at a hotel in the New Market area in Kolkata for at least four days before the killing. Sharing details of the murder, investigators told The Indian Express newspaper – Mohammad Akhtaruzzaman Shahin, a friend and business partner of Azim, is suspected to be the mastermind of the murder.

Arrest of the accused

Akhtaruzzaman, a US citizen of Bangladesh origin, had taken the New Town flat on rent and hired the woman, identified as Silasti Rehman, the butcher and two others to carry out the murder. He is believed to have fled India after the Azim’s killing in the flat on May 13, a day after the MP arrived in India for medical treatment.

Meanwhile, the News18 channel reported that a suspect named Jihad Hawladar, a resident of Khulna district in Bangladesh who had illegally entered India and was staying in Mumbai, had been arrested.

On May 18, Gopal Biswas, the family friend of the MP in Kolkata’s Bidhannagar filed a missing complaint. It is a mystery as to why Gopal Biswas took five full days to file a missing report at the Baranagar police station although Anar left his home on May 13. Biswas’s home is in North 24 Parganas district, West Bengal.

Akhilesh Kumar Chaturvedi, CID Inspector General was quoted as saying by ANI: “We had no prior intimation of the Bangladeshi MP’s arrival to this city. We came to know about him after his acquaintance in Kolkata, Gopal Biswas, filed a missing diary [report] on May 18”.

Does it raise a question if the administration in West Bengal, under chief minister Mamata Banerjee of Trinamool Congress wanted to suppress this serious case where the lawmaker from a neighboring country went suspiciously missing for days? Or does it even raise questions about the connections between Anwarul Azim and Gopal Biswas? Was it purely friendship between the two or Biswas was connected to Azim’s activities such as gold smuggling and money-laundering?

Involvement of Anwarul Azim Anar in drug trade, gold and arms smuggling

According to an exclusive report published in the Dhaka Tribune, local sources allege that Anar once controlled extremist groups in southern and western Bangladesh. 

He was listed in police records for involvement in arms and explosives smuggling. Despite this, he evaded law enforcement and became known as a godfather of terrorists and extremists.

Anar faced over nine cases for various charges, including arms, explosives, narcotics smuggling, extortion, and harbouring extremists. 

In 2008, Interpol had issued a notice against him in connection with several criminal cases, including arms and explosives, as there were several pending cases in Jhenaidah and Chuadanga.

Activists in Jhenaidah said that Anar allegedly entered the drug trade around 1986, during the rule of military dictator Hussain Muhammad Ershad’s pro-Islamist Jatiya Party’s rule. 

They claimed he smuggled goods through the Bagda border of India to the Baghadanga border of Bangladesh. During this period, his forces made monthly contracts, or “tokens”, with various police stations. These tokens allowed drug-carrying vehicles to pass unchallenged, earning him the title of the “Drug King” of the Southwest.

Anar amassed significant wealth through the drug trade. In 1991, he allegedly began smuggling gold with Paritosh Tagore, a fellow smuggler from Jhenaidah. They transported large gold consignments through the Baghadanga border.

Later, he expanded his operations to include arms smuggling, partnering with a Kaliganj municipality commissioner. 

His illegal arms were sold to various extremist and jihadist groups in Bangladesh. Even after going into hiding in India, Anar continued arms smuggling with government-recognized top terrorist Prakash Kumar Biswas, who has been living in West Bengal since 2013.

Political affiliations with TMC

In 1996, Anar joined the Awami League from the ultra-Islamist and Al Qaeda-connected Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

It may be mentioned here that, under Mamata Banerjee’s rule, while West Bengal is already known as a safe haven of gangsters, terrorists, scammers, killers, smugglers, money-launderers and corrupts, Kolkata in particular has become the capital of such notoriety.

Commenting on Anwarul Azim Anar’s connections in West Bengal, a highly-placed source seeking anonymity said, for years Anar has been maintaining healthy relations with several female leaders of Trinamool Congress, some of whom are actresses from Kolkata film industry.

Kolkata film industry’s former actress Moon Moon Sen is connected to notorious terrorist Dawood Ibrahim through one of his key accomplices named Aziz Mohammad Bhai, who also is on run for years and recently a court in Dhaka has pronounced life-term imprisonment for his involvement in the murder of a Bangladeshi film actor named Salman Shah.

It also said, several influential leaders of TMC were having business relations with Anar, while a large portion of cash from the infamous SSC scam was sent to him for investing in businesses. Anar was connected to Partha Chatterjee through his nephew Prasanna Kumar Roy’s friend Shipan Kumer Basu.

Basu, wanted by Bangladesh Police, has been living in West Bengal for almost two decades. During his early life, Shipan Kumer Basu was an active member of ‘Purbo Bangla Communist Party’, an extremist Marxist-Naxalite group in Bangladesh.

During those years, Shipan Kumer Basu has taken part in numerous forms of criminal activities including robbery, rape, extortion and murder. Later, Basu became a member of Anwarul Azim Anar’s transborder smuggling racket.

According to media reports, there are several organized rackets active in West Bengal which help fugitives and criminals from Bangladesh and other countries, including Rohingyas from Myanmar in obtaining Adhar Card as well as Indian passports. Later, these criminals, mostly wanted by law enforcement agencies, leave India for Dubai or other Western countries using Indian passports.

Political war of words

Ruling BJP has accused the state government of hiding a “can of worms” and taken this opportunity to criticize a high-profile opposition figure, West Bengal’s chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

“This isn’t the first such brutal killing in West Bengal. Investigation into the murder will open a can of worms, involving powerful people in the WB [West Bengal] Govt”, Amit Malviya, a senior BJP leader wrote on X, without giving further details.

Amit Malviya, In-charge of BJP’s National Information & Technology Department wrote in his post on ‘X’:

Welcome to Mamata Banerjee’s Bengal! There is no such thing as Law & Order in the State. Anwarul Azim Anar, a Member of Parliament from Bangladesh, was found dead in Kolkata. But what is shocking is the details of the murder. After killing Anar, the group skinned the body, removed the flesh, and minced it to prevent identification. They then packed the remains into plastic bags and cut the bones into small pieces. The police suspect that after killing Anar, the murderers mutilated the body, segregated the flesh from the bones and mixed those with turmeric powder to delay decomposition. The remains were then carefully placed into plastic bags for transportation.In an attempt to conceal any evidence of the heinous act, the washroom was thoroughly cleaned using acid before the apartment was vacated. This isn’t the first such brutal killing in West Bengal. Investigation into the murder will open a can of worms, involving powerful people in the WB Govt.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is an internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, writer, research scholar, and counterterrorism specialist. He regularly writes for local and international newspapers.

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