A three-member committee was formed yesterday to probe the incident of plundering of forest on 125 acres of land along the Sonaichhari coast of Sitakunda upazila in Chittagong.
The officer-in-charge of Sitakunda Police Station had also been transferred on grounds of unsatisfactory performance.
The committee headed by Additional DIG Maqbul Hossain Bhuiyan was formed following a directive of Deputy Inspector General of Police in Chittagong Asaduzzaman Khan to investigate the incident and the failure of police in protecting the coastal forest in Sitakunda.
The probe body has been asked to submit report within three days after commencement of the probe, DIG Asaduzzaman told The Daily Star last evening.
"The committee will investigate the role of police during the incident. It will also make recommendations and help us devise ways to put an end to such wrongdoings," said the DIG.
On the transfer of the OC of Sitakunda Police Station, the DIG said, "He has been transferred because his performance is not up to our expectations. An efficient officer would replace him as a part of an administrative move."
"There might have been negligence in the enforcement of law that encouraged plundering of forest which Sitakunda police failed to prevent. If the culprits are arrested and brought to justice, such incidents won't happen again," said the DIG.
A drive is on to arrest all accused in the case filed by the Department of Forest (DoF) against 1,100 people for plundering the trees, Nazrul Islam, officer-in-charge of Sitakunda Police Station, earlier told The Daily Star.
Sitakunda police have so far arrested six hired workers in this connection.
"During interrogation, they said Zahur and Didar engaged them in the job of felling the trees," he said.
"We are verifying the names to find out the identities of others involved in the incident," Nazrul said.
Six cases have been filed since December last year in connection with the plundering of the forest along Sitakunda coast.
DoF lodged four cases against Abdullah Al Mamun, son of local Awami League lawmaker ABM Abul Kashem Master, Md Alauddin, Md Ezahar, Jahangir Alam, Badshah Miah and Sirajuddowla on charge of denuding the forest belt in Sitakunda for setting up seven ship-breaking yards within three months from December last year.
"But the police submitted final reports sparing the accused in all four cases. We later filed a no-confidence petition with the magistrate court concerned," said Divisional Forest Officer SM Khalek Khan.
"The court rejected the petition prompting us to move it to the Chittagong district judge's court where it remains pending," he said.
Various environmental organisations and cross-sections of people demanded immediate arrest of the culprits for the plundering of forest.
Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon called for stern actions against the people responsible and realising compensations from them, said a press release.
Citizens' Alliance for Promoting Transparency and Accountability, Jano Udyog and People's Voice jointly formed a human chain in front of Chittagong Press Club yesterday.
A number of social and environmental organisations including Khelaghar, YPSA, Sitakunda Paribesh Sangrakkhan Committee, BNPS, Ashataru and Sangshaptak also joined the human chain.
Meantime, Mohammad Aslam Chowdhury, joint convener of BNP south Chittagong district unit, at a press conference at Chittagong Press Club denied his involvement in the plundering of trees at Sonaichhari.
Aslam Chowdhury protested some news reports saying he had been implicated wrongfully in the incident. A vested quarter being envious of his business reputation might have done it, he said.
The BNP leader also demanded exemplary punishment to the people responsible.