Sunday, September 26

Parliament heats up over clubs, alcohol and gambling

Lawmakers debate over clubs and their involvement with alcohol and gambling

The parliament saw a heated debate on Thursday over clubs, alcohol and gambling.

Lawmakers of Awami League, Jatiya Party, BNP and Tarikat Federation exchanged bards during the day’s session as the issue of actor Pori Moni was brought up.

The discussion began at the start of the session with a point of order from Jatiya Party’s Mujibul Haque.

Later, Awami League’s Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, BNP’s Harunur Rashid, Bangladesh Tarikat Federation’s Syed Nazibul Bashar Maizbhandari, and Opposition Chief Whip Mashiur Rahman Ranga joined the argument.

Leader of the House and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was also present in parliament at the time.

“For the past few days, the matter of a movie actor is being discussed,” Mujibul said, referring to the recent incident involving Pori Moni at the Dhaka Boat Club.

“Who formed this club? Who are the members? I have heard you need to spend Tk50-60 lakh for a membership. Who are these people who spend this much for a club’s membership? We can’t even think about it… We can’t earn that much after a lifetime’s work,” said the MP from Kishoreganj.

Bringing up names of several clubs in Dhaka, he said that the clubs serve alcohol and facilitate gambling.

“For consuming liquor, a person needs to obtain a licence. But these clubs sell alcohol by the gallon. If only people with licences drank, the clubs would not sell as much as they do. How do government officials become members? Where does all this money come from?” asked the MP.

Seeking the prime minister’s intervention to stop DJ parties at upscale Dhaka neighbourhoods, the lawmaker said: “DJ parties are held in Gulshan-Baridhara area. People dance, take drugs and consume alcohol there. And these are against the law as well as against our culture and religion.”

He urged the prime minister to ask the home minister why these are being allowed.

“Why shouldn’t these be stopped? Who are the members of these clubs? The Pori Mini incident happened at the boat club. The land on which the club has been built has an owner, who cannot go there. It has to be looked into,” said Mujibul Haque said.

Following his statement, Awami League’s Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim took the floor and blamed BNP founder Ziaur Rahman for issuing alcohol and gambling licences in Bangladesh.

“Bangabandhu suspended alcohol and gambling licences, but Ziaur Rahman resumed it,” he said.

BNP MP Harunur Rashid then took the floor and said: “An opposition MP drew the attention of the prime minister to a specific issue. But a senior member (Sheikh Selim) has taken it somewhere else.

“Many foreigners live in Bangladesh. There are people who follow other religions and can consume alcohol. The law does not allow Muslims to drink.”

Harun said he will resign from the parliament if anyone can prove that Ziaur Rahman gave licence to Muslims for consuming alcohol.

“People from the government are involved in alcohol business in these clubs. And the police get money from these places. The prime minister should look into this,” said the MP from Chapainawabganj.

Syed Nazibul Bashar Maizbhandari of Bangladesh Tarikat Federation said that BNP MP Harun should resign today.

“He said Ziaur Rahman did not give the Muslims permission to drink. He should show us where in the law it says that Muslims cannot drink.”

Jatiya Party leader Mashiur Rahman Ranga said that the law is being misused.

“The clubs get doctors’ certificates stating that an individual can drink alcohol daily for medical reasons and then they obtain licences. The BNP issued these licences. If a Muslim drinks, the government can’t do anything about it,” he said.

On Jatiya Party Presidium member Nasir U Mahmood, who stands accused of sexually assaulting and trying to murder Pori Moni, Ranga said: “Pori Moni has made an allegation. A suspect has been arrested. If he is guilty, he will be punished.”

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