Criminals allegedly backed by a few local leaders of ruling Awami League (AL) looted eight big trees worth Tk 10 to 15 lakh around Pakshey divisional headquarters of Bangladesh Railway (BR) during the last three weeks, sources said.
Visiting the spots, this correspondent saw marks of tree felling.
Criminals cut down and dug out the roots of two big trees in 'Marinpara Bhagar', beside Bangla Kuthir, and felled two big mahogany trees at Babupara of Pakshey within a week, locals said. Four other trees at different places of the railway land were felled and branches of 10 to 15 trees were cut during the last couple of weeks, sources said.
"Criminals cut the trees at dead of night and so, we did not know the matter immediately. We recovered logs of two trees from two spots recently and filed cases," said Md Abdus Sattar, assistant engineer of Pakshey Division of BR.
A few locals sensed the matter of tree felling but dared not protest in fear of the influential criminals, said schoolteacher Md Amirul Islam, also a resident of Pakshey.
The fellows of two local AL leaders cut the government trees from the railway land and stacked the logs in the timber factory of a ward unit leader of AL, said locals seeking anonymity.
Admitting the looting of trees on railway land, Md Habibul Islam, president of Pakshey union unit of AL, said, "Irrespective of their political identity, the tree looters are criminals. I demand the punishment for the offence."
Md Manikuzzaman, assistant sub inspector of Pakshey police camp, said, "We are investigating the incident and trying to find out the real culprits."
There are a large number of big trees in and around the vast land of Pakshey divisional headquarters of railway. Most of them were planted during British period when the then government introduced railway between Calcutta and northern districts.