Few things have hit the ceiling fan distributing shit in Bangladesh the way the Papiya news has. There is near hysteria about everything around the news including the players concerned. She has been demonized to a point beyond recognition. She is no longer a person but a symbol of what everyone hates about the way many think Bangladesh has become.

Its the sleaze factor that has played such a big role in it all. Her lifestyle, money making, influence peddling, connection economics and all the vices that follow that path has converged on her as the ultimate villain. Papiya has become the person everyone loves to hate. Perhaps the big Papiyas who are beyond the reaches of law are hoping everyone will look for her and leave them alone to do what they do best.

A small timer caught as a big fish

Papiya is a no big deal at any level. She is a small timer politician of a district level ruling party women's wing. There are literally thousands like her in Bangladesh and even in their own space they are not big fries. She doesn't even have much local clout either and isn't someone who grew through the ranks. Basically, she is one of the million fair weather AL members who joined the party to gain something as its the only party in town. Her husband who is less known may have a better background politically but it really doesn't matter if one is not a biggie in Dhaka, Chittagong , Narayanganj and other big town political worlds.

But in public eyes, she has become the new powerful, the most corrupt and sleazy character who now constitute a section of the ruling class.

No matter what Papiya may have done in Narsinghdi, it really doesn't matter and what media has reported doesn't seem like the work of a heavy duty criminal. Consider that Badi has been more or less identified as the drug king pin of Bangladesh along with several members of the family but he lives totally safe. So its not just what she did but the context and background that seems to have paved the way for her current fate. From a standard issue small town muscle flexer, she has become a national criminal. But going by facts its a reality which is significantly produced by facts, public imagination , media and police reports.

Papiya and sex work at Westin

Papiya has become a national headline, partly because she was running a small time sex work business - compared to what is really big in Dhaka- in a very well known hotel. Westin owned by a top tycoon. This goes on in many if not most hotels of Dhaka.

Hotel Westin is jointly owned by some of the richest and biggest in town and they are generally considered above law. They do enjoy complete impunity as history has shown. But no one believes that police and other law enforcement agencies didn't know what was going on all this time.

Our police is way much better than that. Its true that the address is fancy and many big timers congregate there. But that exactly is why the police would keep an eye on the place. For their own needs and safety of the important people. But something happened which flipped the can and the sex work, gambling etc so common in that area became a "national" problem.

Given the kind of profits raked in by organized prostitution and Papiya's spending, the figures don't match. Paying a bill of 2.5 lakhs a day would mean a great deal of expensive alcohol. She was reportedly paying 30 thousand a month which is a very middle class sex work rates. How much profit would she have to rake in to pamper such expensive clients?

It was not that she invented Dhaka's flourishing sex trade in the posh neighbourhoods where sex workers make much more than 30 k and don't operate from Westin type hotels either. So why invest in such a fancy joint to make the same kind of money than can be made from cheaper joints ?

Papiyas the hate figure

But what is certain is the collective loathing of Papiya , who has become the symbol of sleaze. She has said that she had "managed" everyone except PM Hasina but this is typical bravado of a small time criminal caught. She is too small time even to be noticed by even a mid level leader let alone the national leader. Papiya is pretending to be a bigger dish than who she is or made to be.

All the pent up rage of the millions who feel helpless in Bangladesh in face of the powerful is going to Papiya. But finding a scapegoat for all the big criminals who go uncaught in very important. Now all can freely, safely and without holding back hate and abuse her.

And with the Government leaders also encouraging this trend, the public is having a free hit. And she has become the classic catharsis of a people choked by sleaze and rage.

What perhaps should be noted is that Papiya began her operations soon after the casino crackdown occurred. So it seems the lessons that such people should have learnt from that phase have been quickly forgotten if learnt in the first place.

This is a land of deep sleaze and crime. This Papiya is finished but the rest are free.

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