Heaps of burnt down school textbooks in the storehouse of Banshkhali Upazila Parishad in Chittagong, which was torched by Jamaat-Shibir on last Thursday. Inset, documents reduced to ashes following an arson attack on a civil court in the upazila the same day. Photo: Star
Around 80 percent of rare and irreplaceable records and documents, mainly related to land surveys and different cases, were burnt to ashes in the February 28 arson attack on a civil court building in Chittagong's Banshkhali upazila.
Jamaat-Shibir men had carried out the attack on the Senior Judicial Magistrate's Court, Senior Assistant Judge's Court and at least 15 adjoining government offices protesting the death sentence to Jamaat leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee.
Only 950 of 4,850 rare public and private documents and records stored in the courts and a records room could be saved, the court's Office Superintendent Khokan Krisna Dhar told The Daily Star yesterday.
Many of the records were from the British regime, dating back some 200 years. There were deed, land survey, evidence, and different case-related documents, he said.
The damage will affect some five lakh people whose various documents were stored there, said Senior Judicial Magistrate Amirul Islam.
The attackers came in their hundreds around 4:30pm and vandalised court rooms, including the magistrates' rooms, senior assistant judge's court room and the record room, said Amir Hamza, a clerk of the office, who witnessed the attack.
Referring to the arsonists, a court official, Kabir Ahmed, said, “They are not friends of the people. They would not have carried out this abominable act if they had any respect for our judicial system.”
The adjoining premises which were burnt down include government offices of agriculture, fisheries, local government department and the upazila nirbahi officer and a warehouse, said Sabuj Kanti Dhar, an official of the agriculture office.
Books of primary and secondary education; valuable agricultural equipment, including spraying machines and pumps, worth Tk 1 crore; 10 motorcycles and a jeep were also destroyed, said Mohammad Osman, an assistant agriculture officer.