Incentives for Imams: Embarrassing errors taint Kulaura lists | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 06, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:12 AM, June 06, 2020

Incentives for Imams: Embarrassing errors taint Kulaura lists

A number of people, who do not lead prayers at mosques, have been named in the lists for the government's cash assistance to imams in Sylhet's Kulaura during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The lists include names of an expatriate, an officer of the Islamic Foundation as well as former and current political activists.  

The Daily Star found such anomalies, along with repetition and omission of names of mosques, in at least four of the lists prepared by the Islamic Foundation in Kulaura for the 13 unions and one municipality under the upazila.

The lists, published on the Kulaura upazila administration's Facebook page on May 24, include the names and addresses of 771 mosques, the number of imams and muezzins in each mosque, the name and contact number of the imam in charge, and the mosque type.

In the list for Kulaura Sadar union, the name and mobile number of SM Shihab Uddin, office assistant of Kulaura Islamic Foundation, was listed as the imam in charge of Dasermahal Fultali Bari Mosque.

Contacted, Shihab said his name and phone number were mistakenly included in the list prepared hurriedly.

"The list will be revised," he added.

In the same list, Farid Uddin's name appeared as the imam in charge of Karergram Jame Mosque and Gutguti Jame Mosque.

But Farid Uddin is the imam of Chakapan North Faridpur Mosque in Kadipur union. "I used to be the imam of Karergram Jame Mosque in 2016," he said.

Similar mistakes were found in the list for Kulaura municipality.

Nazim Uddin, an expatriate living in Qatar for the last five years, was listed as the imam of Dakshin Joypasha Jame Mosque of ward-8 of the municipality, said a resident of the area, requesting anonymity.

The mosque secretary, Kalim Uddin, told The Daily Star that the current imam of the mosque is Maulana Hafiz Selim Ahmed. And they were not informed while the list was prepared, he added.

Former Chhatra League activist Abdul Latif's name was included as the imam of Chakapan Noorani Mosque in Kadipur Union.

"I do not know how my name came up [in the list]," Latif told The Daily Star.

"There are eight mosques in ward-1 of our union, but 12 mosques were listed. Around four names are fake," he added.

Names of four people, listed as imams of Chakapan Jame Mosque, East Chakapan Mosque, Chakapan Rail Station Mosque and Dakshin Chakapan Jame Mosque, were identified as activists of a local Islamist party by Abdul Latif.

Locals claimed they never led any prayers in any of the mosques.

Examining the lists, The Daily Star found that names of seven mosques were mentioned more than once. On the other hand, names of a number of mosques were left out.

Baradal and Kanehat Jame Mosque's names were not included in the list, said Mahfuz Hamid, a resident of Karera village under Bhuksimoil union.

Mafuz, who runs a citizens' group on Facebook, alleged that 80 percent of the information in the lists is flawed.

Abdur Rakib, field supervisor of Kulaura Islamic Foundation, told this correspondent that they received a phone call from their Dhaka headquarters on May 15 morning to prepare and complete the lists by the afternoon.

Earlier on May 14, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina made an announcement about providing financial assistance to imams and muezzins of all mosques to cope with the crisis created by the coronavirus-induced shutdown.

Because of the haste, there were so many mistakes and misinformation in the lists, Abdur Rakib admitted.

He said the lists were prepared by some teachers of the foundation at the union level. However, as the matter has become known in various quarters, the lists are being checked and rectified through the upazila nirbahi officer's (UNO) intervention.

UNO ATM Farhad Chowdhury of Kulaura said a total of Tk 38,55,000 has been allocated for 771 mosques of the upazila at the rate of Tk 5,000 for each mosque.

Admitting to the information discrepancy in the published lists, the UNO said those were provided by the Islamic Foundation and the irregularities have been reported to the higher authorities.

There is no scope to misappropriate money by making fake lists, he added.

Farhad also said the chairmen of the 13 unions of the upazila and the mayor of the municipality were instructed to prepare a new and accurate list after checking and sorting out the lists prepared by the Islamic Foundation.

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