Senior BNP leader Moudud Ahmed was evicted from his three-decade-long residence yesterday as he lost the legal battle over the ownership of the house worth Tk 300 crore in the capital's Gulshan.
Before Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) began the eviction drive around noon, a huge number of law enforcers had been deployed around the house on a piece of one bigha and 13 katha land. Water cannon, prison van and bulldozer were seen parked outside the residence. Two trucks were also there to carry furniture from the house.
"Pursuant to the highest court's verdict, we are evacuating the house and taking control of it,” said Waliur Rahman, zonal director of Rajuk.
The eviction drive came three days after the apex court dismissed three petitions seeking review of its verdict that scrapped a High Court judgment ordering the authorities to do mutation of the Gulshan land and residence in the name of Moudud's brother Monzur Ahmed.
Police assisted Rajuk officials in the drive, said SM Mustaque Ahmed, deputy commissioner of (Gulshan Division) Dhaka Metropolitan Police.
In the afternoon, labourers loaded the trucks with goods. No family member of Moudud, BNP's standing committee member, was seen there at the time.
When the drive began, Moudud was in court. He reached the house at 3:00pm.
Infuriated, Moudud told Rajuk officials, "It is a sign that there is no rule of law in the country."
Terming the drive "unlawful and unethical", Moudud told The Daily Star that Rajuk conducted the drive without any prior notice.
"This is not a government property. Still, the government is desperate to evict me from the house.
“It is an example of vengeance. The court did not say anything about eviction and Rajuk also did not serve any notice to me to leave the house. Since I do politics from the opposition, I was evicted…. If I were a ruling party man, situation would have been different.”
Asked where he would live now, the BNP leader said he had no other option but to stay on the street.
However, Moudud's associate barrister Ehsanur Rahman said the furniture was moved to Moudud's flat at Gulshan-2 and some items would be taken to a house belonging to one of his relatives.
Asked why no notice was served to leave the house, Rajuk official Waliur Rahman told journalists, “This is our property. The court gave the verdict. So, why we should serve a notice.”
Around 4:00pm, BNP standing committee member Khandakar Mosharraf Hossain went to the residence. He told journalists, “We don't know about the legal aspects. We know that he was there and he was ousted from there.”
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said a title suit (property related case) was filed by Moudud's brother Monzur Ahmed with a Dhaka court in 1993 seeking mutation of the property in his name. The court in 2001 dismissed the suit and delivered a verdict against Monzur who claimed the ownership of the house.
Monzur then filed an appeal with the High Court against the lower court verdict. In 2005, the HC ordered the government to register the property in Monjur's name.
The government then appealed to the Supreme Court against the HC verdict. In the meantime, the property was enlisted as abandoned property. Monzur filed a writ petition with the HC challenging the government declaration.
The HC in response to the writ petition passed another order in favour of Monjur. Rajuk then filed an appeal with the SC against the HC verdict.
Meanwhile, the Anti-Corruption Commission in December 2013 lodged a case with Gulshan Police Station against Moudud and his brother Monzur on charges of grabbing the "abandoned public land".
According to the case statement, Moudud and his brother grabbed the land between 1978 and 2006.
The land was enlisted as abandoned land in 1972 after its owners -- Pakistani couple Mohammad Ehsan and Inge Maria Flatz -- left the country, according to the ACC.
Ehsan received the possession of the land in 1961 from now-defunct DIT (now Rajuk). The land was transferred to Flatz in 1965.
Moudud falsely showed that Flatz issued a power of attorney in favour of him in August 1973, said the anti-graft body in the case statement.
Moudud grabbed the land and its establishment, and started living there, identifying him as a tenant of Flatz. But an ACC investigation found no record of Flatz visiting Bangladesh after the independence.
The SC on August 2 last year gave a judgment that Monzur had kept the possession of the land and residence by submitting forged documents, the attorney general said. “Moudud Ahmed as a politician should have left the house long ago.”
Monzur filed the review petitions with the apex court, and the court on Sunday dismissed them, clearing the way for eviction.
Meanwhile, Moudud claiming himself a tenant of the original owner filed a suit with a Dhaka court seeking an injunction so that the government could not evict him from the residence. But Judge Utpal Bhattyacharjee of the Fist Joint District Judge's Court did not pass any order on the matter.
Moudud is facing five corruption cases and a money laundering case now, said ACC lawyer Khurshid Alam Khan.
KHALEDA MEETS MOUDUD
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia went to see Moudud after he was evicted.
As Khaleda reached the place after iftar, Moudud briefed her on the whole eviction process.
Condemning the eviction drive, Khaleda said the government was ousting people from their houses.
“But they [Awami League] are garbing people's houses but are not ousted,” she said while addressing an iftar party organised by the Association of Engineers Bangladesh at a convention centre in the capital.
“Moudud Ahmed was living in that house for 30 years but he was ousted. I was living in my house for 40 years. I was ousted too…. People are watching that they [ruling party men] are grabbing houses. They will also be ousted.”
While visiting the house, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said, “Eviction of Moudud from his house is tantamount to a militant behavior. Without any notice, an organiser of the Liberation War, language movement hero and a senior lawyer was evicted from his house. I have no word to condemn such behaviour.”