Jamaat-Shibir men torch the Palli Bidyut Samity office in Chapainawabganj on February 28, the day Jamaat leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee was sentenced to death, and the Palli Bidyut Samity general manager's home, inset, and vandalised some solar panels in the district. Photo: Star
Full recovery of both the newly-built Sona Masjid Parjatan Motel and Chapainawabganj Palli Bidyut Samity that were dreadfully burned by Jamaat-Shibir men six days ago is likely to take about a year, officials estimate.
"It [the Samity] will take minimum one year to start full operation," said SM Mozammel Haque, acting general manager of the Samity, adding that the attackers left nothing operational.
Several teams of experts from Dhaka under the supervision of top officials of the Rural Electrification Board (REB) would soon start working to revive the 15MVA sub-station within the shortest possible time, he informed.
Around 40,000 people are suffering blackout since Jamaat-Shibir men protesting against the verdict of war criminal Delawar Hossain Sayedee burned down the power substation at Kansat on Thursday.
"If the required machinery are available at REB stores, the recovery will take up to six months. If we need to import the machinery, more time will be needed," said Assistant General Manager Rejaul Karim.
He added the attackers threw petrol in small plastic bottles and some powder on the electrical machinery before setting those on fire.
All the machinery of their store worth around Tk 110 crore were burned, while the arson attack on the administrative office building, the Samity's rest house and five residential buildings caused a loss of around Tk 90 crore. Besides, 42 vehicles, all office documents and furniture were completely destroyed.
Sona Masjid Parjatan Motel was recently built spending Tk 5 crore and was scheduled to be inaugurated on March 15, said Motiar Rahman, its manager. "Its restoration will take at least one year," he added.
All its 18 rooms, reception room, kitchen, restaurant, power generator room and 12-room dormitory were destroyed beyond recognition.
M Tawhidul Islam, executive engineer of the motel, was killed as the Jamaat-Shibir men forced him to jump from the roof of the three-storey building.
During a visit to the motel beside the historic Sona Mosque, these correspondents met Majnur Rahman, an assistant of the motel's construction firm and a local resident who had a harrowing tale of the attack.
He said the attackers came from neighbouring villages including Abbasbazar, Sonapur, Baluadighi, Salampur, Shialmara and Pirjipur. He added he could not recognise anyone as he was in tremendous fear.
"Several thousand people with sticks and iron rods in hands stormed into the motel and started breaking the glasses.
"We three [Motiar, Tawhidul and Majnur] just had lunch after hearing the Sayedee verdict and were resting at our respective rooms."
The Jamaat-Shibir men who stormed into the motel went away to attack the Solar Power Plant of Pirjipur. In 10 minutes they returned and started damaging the motel again.
"I asked them [Tawhid and Motiar] to go outside the motel, but Tawhid sir went upstairs and we followed him.
"We took shelter on the roof of the three-story motel. At one stage, some 70-80 attackers chased us on the roof."
Motiar and Majnur tried to hide under the water tank, while Tawhid hid into the water tank, he said.
But the attackers captured Motiar and Majnur and forced Tawhid to jump off the roof, Majnur added.
The Jamaat-Shibir men tore apart their shirts and started beating up them. With the help of some locals, they managed to get out of the motel.
Mojibor Rahman Kalu, caretaker of Pijipur Solar Power Plant, saw how Tawhid was forced to jump off the roof. "As some people raised sticks to hit him, he jumped from the roof," Kalu said.
After his death, Tawhid's body was sent to his house at Bhurungamari in Kurigram on Thursday night.
Officials of both the government institutes complained of lax security measures taken by the law-enforcement agencies.
Although there was almost no security measure taken at the motel, there were nine armed Ansars at the Palli Bidyut Samity.
Ansar member Mofiz Uddin said, "We repeatedly requested the higher authorities to open fire, but none of them let us do that. If we could open fire, the loss would not be such worse."
They however saved their lives along with their arms and ammunition begging mercy from the attackers.
"The attackers told us to flee if we want to live and we fled accordingly," he added.
Despite repeated calls, the police and fire service men allegedly delayed to reach the scene.
Meanwhile, as they failed to provide adequate security to the government property and people's lives, Superintendent of Police (SP) Sazzadur Rahman was stand-released on Tuesday, while the OC of Shibganj was closed to the police lines and Upazila Nirbahi Officer of Shibganj AZM Sharjil Hasan was transferred, confirmed Chapainawabganj Deputy Commissioner Shah Alam.
The police could not reach the Samity and Motel offices as the Jamaat-Shibir men had blocked the streets at five points and put up barricades by felling logs, said additional SP Ariful Haque.
The number of people, who took part in the attacks, was also huge, he explained.