The National Youth Policy, formulated by the Awami League government, defines any citizen between 18 and 35 as a youth.
But this definition does not seem applicable to the party’s youth wing, Jubo League. None of the members of the organisation’s 351-member central committee falls under this age group.
The youngest person in the committee is 44, and the oldest is none other than the organisation’s current chief Omar Faruk Chowdhury, who turned 71 this year.
Faruk is the oldest chairman of Jubo League in its history of 47 years. He secured the post at the age of 64 in 2012.
When Sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni, nephew of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, founded the outfit on November 11, 1972, he was 33. All his six successors were older than him when they became chairman of the front.
According to insiders, only 10 to 12 leaders of Jubo League units across the country are below 44, while most others are in their late 40s and early 50s.
The Jubo League charter does not mention any age limit, but says any employable youth is eligible to engage with the youth front.
The organisation was founded with an aim to alleviate poverty and establish the rights of the young generations. But a group of Jubo League leaders deviated from the objectives and got busy making their own fortune. And instead of working for protecting the rights of the youths, they got engaged in numerous misdeeds and criminal activities -- starting from grabbing tenders to running illegal casino business in the sporting clubs, the insiders said.
All their misdeeds came to the fore after the law enforcement agencies began a drive against illegal gambling and casinos, with the first one being carried on Fakirerpool Sporting Club in the capital on September 18.
After the drive, the organisation’s chairman, Omar Faruk, became the talk of the town and a section of Jubo League leaders brought myriad allegations against him.
The allegations include running the organisation at will, patronising the corrupt and giving different posts of the youth front in exchange for money.
“Jubo League never operated in line with its charter under the existing chairman. Rather, it was being run according to his own rules,” Fazlul Haque Atique, organising secretary of the organisation, told The Daily Star.
He also alleged that corrupt people from different parts of the country needed the ruling party’s shelter to continue their illegal business, committing corruption, including tender manipulation, and establishing supremacy in their areas.
They used Jubo League as a shield, he said, adding, “The Jubo League chairman patronised them for money.”
Against this backdrop, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will sit with top Jubo League leaders -- presidium members, joint secretaries and organising secretaries -- at 5:00pm today at the Gono Bhaban.
Jubo League sources said the meeting would discuss various issues, including ways of rebuilding the image of the organisation.
Talking to The Daily Star, Jubo League presidium member Shaheed Serniabat alleged that the chairman and the general secretary of the organisation did not evaluate the dedication of leaders during the formation of different committees.
“Jubo League is a two-man show organisation, and the chairman and the general secretary will have to shoulder responsibilities for the current situation. We will seek decision from our leader [Sheikh Hasina] about their removal from the posts,” he said.
Besides, the leaders will seek the Awami League president’s guideline on holding Jubo Congress, scheduled to take place on November 23, he added.
Sources said the PM asked Faruk and presidium member Nurunabi Chowdhury Shawon not to join the meeting today.
While talking to The Daily Star, several leaders of Jubo League said they will raise various allegations at the meeting against the chairman and his associates who they said engaged in various misdeeds and corruptions.
They said they would also demand the chairman’s punishment over the issues.
This correspondent contacted Faruk several times for comments, but he did not receive the calls.
According to Jubo League insiders, Faruk, who was considered to be the most powerful chairman of the organisation, is now passing lonely days at his Dhanmondi residence. Most of those who used to surround him all the time have deserted him.
The Jubo League boss was also barred from leaving the country as the immigration police imposed the ban on October 6. Bangladesh Bank has also ordered freezing the bank accounts of Omar Faruk and his wife.
On October 6, Jubo League leaders for the first time brought several allegations against Faruk at the front’s presidium meeting.
The allegations included that he misbehaves with party leaders, does not attend office regularly and run the organisation at will staying at his Dhanmondi residence.
Jubo League insiders said in his early age, Omar Faruk was the general secretary of ‘Biri Sramik League’ of Chattogram in the 70s. He started importing ‘Tendu leaf’ (alternative of tobacco) from Myanmar. In the following years, he started garments business.
Later, Faruk started his political career with Sramik League’s politics. When late HM Ershad assumed power and late Najiur Rahman Manju became a minister, Faruk joined Jubo Sanghati, the youth wing of the Jatiya Party. Manju is a brother-in-law of Faruk.
After the fall of autocratic ruler Ershad in 1990, Omar Faruk joined AL’s politics in Chattogram and was elected a treasurer of Chattogram (North) unit in 1997. He became the presidium member of Jubo League at its congress in 2003.
Nine years later, he became the chairman of the Jubo League, the first youth organisation of the country.