It would be pretty silly to think that the winged ladies of Dhaka could make the class that matters uncomfortable and become a threat worthy of a counter attack. But they fell, one after another, in a couple of weeks' time as forces more commonly associated with managing hardened and violent criminals were seen herding in the ladies who make their living off the very available sleaze.

The crowds were served with the usual stories of liquor, yaba and the rest but it didn't matter. The public are gorging on such salacious stuff of course, but are hardly convinced that it's an anti-crime drive. They actually don't care. It's obvious that the operations are meant to protect the rich that mix with this crowd. The message is clear: Don't mess with us when you eat from what we give you or we can get tough.

The Gold Rush town syndrome

Contemporary Dhaka's freewheeling life resembles a gold rush town with its 'anything goes' attitude of the suddenly rich. It belongs to the gold panning crowd which has made millions and now has time to indulge in whiskey and hookers not picked up off the street. This system hasn't changed in hundreds of years and every gold rush town behaves the same way.

Dhaka may be a gold rush town but is also the capital city of a state. So even if gold rush towns have a lifestyle which Dhaka follows, it's much bigger in scale with an economic system at work with lots of others involved in playing the game. And that needs protection. Dhaka was slack in self-protection. The lifestyle was hurting it and so it retaliated.

Pori Moni, real name Shamsunnahar Smrity, probably began the ball rolling by accusing a senior member of the establishment of attempted rape, etc, while visiting one of the main fortresses of the crony class, a club (that her adversary once served as president). Later videos appeared that reflected her own position to be murkier and she was found roughing up clubs elsewhere too. The case is now under investigation. The main accused is a big player and yet was taken to jail, expelled from the club and so on but later granted bail.

Pori Moni thought she had the upper hand with the media and her fans backing her along with a large section of activist women. But this girl from the districts had no idea how Dhaka plays its game. She was allowed to run as far as she could and then the net was cast. It took its time but the raids were well planned and executed and the arrests show that anyone confronting the wealthy class had better be strong. She wasn't - none are- and has paid the price.

The cronies need protection?

Her weakness and that of those like her is that they forgot their economics, the mother of everything. They live off the rich and maintain lifestyles that can be funded only by gold rush money. Their product is sex and drugs and party mingling of various kinds -entertainment- and their buyers are the rich, young and old. They are not catering to the middle class where a different type of drugs-sex market operates. So they were dependent on the rich whom they actually turned against including allegations, now of blackmail. The result was inevitable. Pori and those like her have paid a high price for their stupidity. The lessons are clear: don't bite the hand that feeds you. If that happens, this is what you get.

The stories about blackmail didn't sell to anyone because Dhaka is a shame free city and nobody cares about "shame and dignity" because it has no impact. No matter how many sex pics are published, it wouldn't matter as there is no social impact of shame in this society.

While those arrested are being demonised as druggies and providers of sex and blackmailers, the social impact is little. So the narco-charges will look good on chargesheets but the reason for the operations was probably different. It was meant for those who benefit from crony capitalism including the media but turn against it for whatever reason. The system is strong and can hit back.

Individually, each of them - Pori, Helena or Peyasha -is small fry and provide good entertainment but the point was the clamping down on those who dare to disturb the system which feeds them. The casino clampdown is another good example. The groups that were even contemplating a sort of political contest within and which included several close to the ruling top were cut down. Anyone who wants to raise their voices while gaining as beneficiaries will get the same treatment. Don't rock the boat, proverbial and real.

The system is therefore in place, very strong and able to hit back. Multiple economies are linked and since the links are all based on cronies, the system goes on. The latest raids show that the system can get rough if needed as part of its own inbuilt protection system.

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