High price for 'loyalty to BNP'
The national election of December 30 has turned the life of Mofiz Uddin upside down -- and all for supporting BNP.
From a decent tea-shop vendor at Rabeya market of Bonkishore village in Rajshahi's Tanore upazila, the 48-year old man now works on a potato field.
“I have been a dedicated BNP worker since the 90s,” Mofiz said. “If I have committed a crime, it would be my engagement with BNP.”
In a tin-roofed earthen room under a Koroi tree at the market, Mofiz started the shop and ran it for over the last 20 years.
Furnished with a television, eight chairs, five tables, four benches and a few racks of bakery items, sweets and groceries, his tea-shop fetched him around Tk 3,000 a day to support his family of seven.
On December 21, Mofiz joined the election campaign for BNP candidate Aminul Haq when the latter went to Pachondor union.
Later that evening, a group of stick wielding men went to the market and ransacked the outside of his tea-shop, according to eye-witnesses.
“The attackers were outsiders, not known to me,” said a local businessman.
“I heard about the attack on my shop when I reached home, after campaigning that day,” said Mofiz. A friend of his called him from the market and told him to hide as the attackers were looking for him.
Until polls day, local AL men used the tea-shop as the election office of Awami League candidate Omor Faruk Chowdhury.
“Two days after the election ended, some local AL workers damaged what was left of the shop, including the earthen room, tin-roof, furniture, television, and everything else inside.”
Locals told this correspondent that they heard the AL men would build a party office in that place.
When contacted, Reaz Uddin, president of AL unit at Pachondor ward-2, said, “We are yet to decide on building our office there. If not an office, we may construct a passengers' shed that will come to the use of many.”
He said the land was 'khas' and Mofiz had been illegally occupying it.
On the identity of the attackers, he said, “Nobody knows them. They were wearing helmets and came to the village on motorcycles.”
He denied that it was local AL men who had damaged the shop after the election.
“It was Mofiz's brother, nephew and son who damaged the shop,” he said. On why Mofiz's own relatives would damage the shop, Reaz did not have an explanation.
When contacted, Rajshahi Superintendent of Police Md Shahidullah said they had not heard about the incident.
“We will investigate all allegations of post-election violence,” said the SP, adding that police circulated a message in the district so that no one would spread fear among others over feuds during the election.
Upon losing his source of income, Mofiz began work as day labourer on the potato fields to make ends meet, earning a mere Tk 300 a day.
“I am living in fear. I could not even go see the condition of my shop, the one I so dearly built from scratch,” he said.