After unauthorised filling of most of 0.81-acre railway water body named Jorapukur at Saidpur municipality, men of local lawmaker Shawkat Chowdhury declared the area as eidgah and held the Eid ul Fitr prayers there on Tuesday, allegedly stopping Eid prayers at traditional venues in two nearby mosques.
On the occasion, Shawkat's supporters decorated the area with colourful canopies and flags, and hung a digital banner with a big photograph of the lawmaker, also opposition whip in parliament.
Addressing the devotees at the eid congregation as 'chief advisor' of Munshipara Jorapukur Khejurbaj Natun Eidgah Committee, he said, "I even met the railway minister to persuade him that the filling was not illegal as Jorapukur was not a water body but a ditch that created health hazard."
The filling of the water body started on June 14 and Shawkat inaugurated the work for making an eidgah there.
Sources said local ward councillor of Saidpur municipality Aktar Hossain Feku, who had supervised the filling of the water body on behalf of the lawmaker, forbade the managing committee members of Khejurbagh Masjid and Munshipara natun masjid, to arrange eid prayers there and join the new eidgah.
Akhtar Hossain Feku, on the other hand, claimed that the managing committees of the two mosques willingly decided not to hold Eid prayers there as the locals have got their new eidgah.
Aminul Islam, a former trade union leader of Saidpur rail workshop, lamented that railway authority did not take drastic step when filling of the water body was going on.
"Two weeks ago, Bangladesh Railway lawyer in Saidpur Rafiul Islam Khaza served a legal notice on Shawkat Chowdhury but the latter did not bother to give any reply," he added.
"Whip Shawkat Chowdhury earlier submitted a letter to the railway minister requesting him to allocate the ditch (water body) to meet local people's need by setting up an eidgah and the minister forwarded the letter to the office of railway DG for action as per law. The railway authorities are yet to give any decision on the matter," Mostaq Ahmed, divisional estate officer of BR in Pakshi, told this correspondent.
Contacted, lawmaker Shawkat Chowdhury said on Thursday, "Locals willingly decorated the eidgah and hung digital banner with my photograph at their own cost. My supporters did not forbid the managing committees of Khejurbagh Masjid and Munshipara Natun Masjid to arrange eid prayers. They willingly joined the new eidgah."