Joint drives of law enforcers have stopped widespread Jamaat-Shibir violence in Satkhira for the time being and people fear the top Jamaat leaders of the district would instigate violence again as they remain at large.
Even high officials who led the joint drives admit that they could not make any significant arrests as the people who allegedly instigated the violence had fled the district.
Locals and Awami League leaders say that Jamaat-Shibir would wreak havoc again soon after the drives stop and there were instances of retaliation from the ruling party activists too.
In the last 31 days at least 10 Awami League leaders and workers were killed and more than 70 houses and businesses of Hindus and Awami Leaguers were torched, vandalised and looted. An Awami Leaguer's child was abducted and shot in the head and a woman was killed when Jamaat-Shibir men chopped down a tree to block a road and the tree fell on her.
Several hundred Hindus and Awami Leaguers had to flee their homes.
After the joint drive began on December 15, Jamaat-Shibir men stabbed an elderly Awami League leader to death in Kaliganj upazila and in the last couple of days, at least a dozen houses and shops owned by opposition and Jamaat men were either torched or vandalised at Gabinda Kathi Bazar and Nalta Bazar in the upazila.
Many fear the situation would worsen as people have started taking revenge.
Golam Mostafa, district Awami League member and Debhata upazila chairman, said, “As long as the top brass of Jamaat-Shibir in Satkhira remain out of the dragnet, long-term peace would not be possible.”
He believes that the administration lacked sincerity in arresting the people involved in violence.
A teacher wishing anonymity said, “Before any raid, police informed Jamaat-Shibir leaders beforehand allowing the criminals to hide.”
Denying the allegations, Additional Superintendent of Police Joydev Chowdhury of Satkhira said there might have been a few instances where the joint forces did not make any arrests due to small number of personnel conducting a drive and a large number of people resisting them.
Many claimed that law enforcers did not take strong action and had just picked up a few “innocent” people leaving the real culprits alone.
Lawyer Shyamol Kumar Ghosal of Agardari village said numerous cases were filed in connection with felling trees and many innocent people were implicated.
Violence dominated the district at the south-western edge of the country since February when Jamaat leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee was sentenced to death for crimes against humanity.
Satkhira Awami League joint secretary Sheikh Shaheed Uddin blamed the lack party activities for this. He said during the last five years party activists were more interested in making money rather than carrying on party activities.
He claimed that this had resulted in many people siding with Jamaat-Shibir. He said vigorous party activities were needed.