Bangladesh has 7 million drug addicts, ‘over half of them are addicted to yaba’

Bangladesh has at least 7 million drug addicts and 5 million of them are hooked on yaba pills, according to people familiar with the situation.

Liton Haider Chief Crimes
Published : 20 May 2018, 06:23 PM
Updated : 20 May 2018, 07:07 PM

The government has no statistics on the drug addicts, but the Department of Narcotics Control Director General Md Jamal Uddin Ahmed supports the statistics of the non-government organisations working on eliminating drugs.

Reached by for the exact figure of addicts following the prime minister declaring a crackdown on drugs on Sunday and amid operations by agencies, he said information from unofficial sources have to be relied upon.

"The department does not have its own statistics,” Jamal Uddin said, “But according to those who work on these issues, the number of drug addicts is about 7 million. The department supported the statistics."

On May 3, at an event of RAB, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina spoke of her government’s strong stance against drugs. Law-enforcing agencies followed it up with countrywide anti-drug operations.

At a news conference on May 14, RAB Director General Benazir Ahmed said after the prime minister's instructions, they have hit the ground and conducted mobile court against drugs.

On Apr 30, Coast Guard Director General Rear Admiral AMMM Aurangzeb Chowdhury at a media briefing said "zero tolerance" will be shown against people drug dealers, peddlers and users.

Detective police, railway police, police stations and Border Guard Bangladesh have also been seen in the anti-drug operations even though nothing has been announced officially.

Over the last several days after the so-called ‘gunfight’ with police in several districts, some members of the drug cartels have been killed.

Six people were killed in the as many districts on Saturday night and four of them were said to be drug peddlers.

Earlier on Thursday, two people were killed in a RAB operation in Barishal colony, known as the den of Chattogram's illegal drugs.

Nine people were killed in the last five days in an alleged gunfight with the RAB in Barishal, Rajshahi, Chapainawabganj.

RAB claimed that all the dead were drug peddlers.

From Sunday noon, RAB has started distributing leaflets to create public awareness with th slogan “Let's go to war against the illegal drugs.”

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal inaugurated the campaign from the Zero Point in Gulistan, saying the government will not let anyone off the hook in the anti-drug clampdown.

In a speech at Ganabhaban on Sunday, Prime Minister Hasina said, “We have pledged that we will rescue the country from the clutches of drugs as we did in clamping down on the militancy.”

However, human-rights organisations have criticised the killings in gunfight with the law enforcers amidst serious concerns about the spread of the drugs in all spheres of society.

Hasina supported the anti-drug operations and said families get destroyed by drugs. “So, the war is on drug now.”

“We have delegated special responsibilities to all the law-enforcing agencies, intelligence agencies and RAB. Wherever there are drugs, tough measures will be taken…we are taking stringent measures," she said.