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B'desh health scam accused held while trying to cross border to India

IANS | July 15, 2020 02:47 PM

DHAKA:Regent Group Chairman Mohammad Shahed, the prime accused in the fake Covid report case, who was wanted for money laundering and running a cheat fund syndicate, was arrested after nine days of search when he was trying to flee to India via river Ichamati, wearing a burqa to hide his identity.

Shahed was arrested with an illegal local pistol, ammunition and magazine in a special drive from the banks of Labangaboti river in Komarpur village.

With his arrest, 11 out of the 18 people involved in the fraud case against Regent Hospital have been arrested.

Shahed is accused of issuing fake Covid-19 certificates and taking huge amounts illegally from coronavirus patients for tests and treatment, violating an agreement with the government. A mobile court of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) on July 7 had sealed off the head office of Regent Group, and the Uttara and Mirpur branches of Regent Hospital in Dhaka.

It should be mentioned here that Italy and Japan had postponed Bangladesh flights due to fake Covid test reports of Bangladeshi migrants and tourists.

As of now, 59 cases have been filed in Dhaka, Chittagong, Barisal and Khulna against Shahed by the victims and the police. Most of the cases were filed earlier, but Shahed managed to get bail somehow.

Shahed was arrested from the India-Bangladesh border area in Satkhira district on Wednesday morning and was flown to Dhaka by helicopter. He landed in the capital at 9 a.m., said Lt Col Ashique Billah, director of RAB's legal and media wing.

The authorities of Regent Hospital allegedly charged 3, 500 Bangladeshi taka for each Covid test, meaning they embezzled more than 3.5 crore taka, despite having an agreement with the government for conducting tests and providing treatment for free, according to the law enforcers.

On July 13, a Dhaka court had issued an arrest warrant against Shahed in connection with two cases filed over misappropriation of 3.68 crore taka.

The director of the intelligence wing of RAB, Lt Col Sarwar Bin Quasem, said, "Shahed wanted to flee to India via river Ichhamati. He got on to a boat wearing a burqa after cutting his beard and hair and dying his hair black. The RAB saved him from mass thrashing. We have been able to bring him to Dhaka."

Witnesses in Satkhira told IANS that as they were leaving the mosque in the morning, they saw a convoy of RAB crossing the bridge over the Labangaboti river. After that they saw a member of the RAB team arresting Shahed, who was wearing a burqa. The angry locals started beating him before he was rescued by the RAB team.

After joining the ruling party Awami League, Shahed took the opportunity to approach ministers and influential people. He also used police protocols and the flag in his car outside the capital to his favour.

Shahed also posted photographs with Pime Minister Sheikh Hasina and President Abdul Hamid on social media. He was also seen in pictures with former India President Pranab Mukherjee and BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani.

Shahed started to cheat people and grab money from them in 2016-2017, the police said. He also allegedly told people who wanted their money back that "I keep Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in my pocket, do you know?"

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina recently said in the Parliament that the cheating syndicate of Shahed has been investigated by the government's intelligence agencies and steps have been taken to punish those the fraud syndicate.

Other leaders of the ruling party said that the media, which had invited Shahid to television talk shows many times, had made him a star, and asked why didn't they publish the news of Shahid's deception earlier.

Appearing on television talk shows for huge sums of money, Shahed had established himself as an expert and made a huge impact on the society.

To run his immoral businesses, he used a secret room to invite influential persons, television anchors and media leaders with entertain them with alcohol and women.

Shahed used to extort huge sums of money from the patients. When someone died in the hospital, Shahed forced the family to pay huge amounts to claim the body.

Shahed also wanted to be a member of the Parliament and even collected nomination papers for the 11th national election of Bangladesh.

Shahed also had a 10-member team of illegal gunmen with the help of whom he demanded money from the targeted people and tortured them in a special torture cell.

He also used drivers and paid them large sums for injuring innocent pedestrians and bring them to the Regent Hospital in the same car for treatment.

In the name of treatment, he used to hold the injured pedestrians hostage and collect 5 to 10 lakh taka from them. If anyone refused to pay, he would torture them in his torture cell. He also apparently didn't pay the doctors or the employees.

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