12:00 AM, December 21, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:06 AM, December 21, 2018

From campaign trail: Jashore

Horror haunts Malopara still

Memories of 2014 attacks by 'BNP-Jamaat' men remain fresh among villagers

Children in Jashore's Malopara village still have nightmares of people coming to attack them. And with the election on the horizon, panic has spread even among the adults.

It stems from their experience of the election day on January 5, 2014, when Jamat-Shibir and BNP men unleashed their fury in a series of mindless attacks on the locals. 

They vandalised 130 houses of the Hindu community and torched 10 more in Malopara because the villagers had dared to cast votes. The attackers also looted valuables from the Hindu houses, the locals said.

Although many of the Jamaat-BNP men involved in those attacks have been arrested or are  on the run, a sense of foreboding prevails, particularly among the women and children of the village fishing community living on the banks of the Bhairab river. 

At least two families of the village have sent their young women to their relatives' homes as the polls near.

“I tried to convince my wife to stay home, but she insisted not to take any risk. I gave in to her resolve and sent her to a relative's house in Coat Chandpur in Jhenidah on Wednesday,” said Laltu Sarkar, a local.

Sumoti Sarkar, 14, and Sathi Sarkar, 7, two daughters of his elder brother also accompanied Laltu's wife.

Now an eight-grader, Sumoti was then a class VI student when 300 to 400 Jamaat-Shibir and BNP men wielding sharp weapons and hockey sticks attacked Malopara in Abhoynagar upazila in 2014.

Some 600 Hindus, including women and children, had to flee their village and seek shelter on the other side of the river. While many crossed the river by boats, others swam across.

“Sumoti is so traumatised that she still has nightmares of people coming to attack us,” Kali Dashi Sarkar, mother of Sumoti, told this correspondent while visiting the village on Wednesday.

The hallmark of the attack can still be seen on the tin-roof of Sumoti's house.

That was the third and final attack of the day that came following a rumour that Shibir activist Abu Bakkar had been beaten and killed by the Hindus.

Asked why people still feared the attacks as Jamaat-Shibir and BNP men were out of the area due to police raids, a number of villagers said it was because some of those attackers still roamed around the area freely.

Besides, some attackers had now engaged with the local Awami League, they added.

Earlier, the Jamaat-Shibir men attacked twice, but the residents had managed to resist them from entering the village, said Bishwajit Sarkar.

In the first attack, Bishwajit and five others, including Shyamol Biswas, Kamal Sarkar, Sunil Biswas and Susil Sarkar were seriously beaten.

Their second attempt to enter the village was thwarted by villagers, locals said.

Abhoynagar police lodged a case naming 39 accused. After investigation, police submitted a charge sheet accusing 100 people 16 FIR names were dropped.

A number of villagers said many who took part in the attacks were not made accused in the charge sheet. Some of those charge-sheeted secured bails.

Bishwajit, general secretary of ward-9 unit of Prembagh union, said the government had rebuilt 46 houses and renovated 26 others.

The prime minister visited the village on January 23 that year and before her visit they were also brought under national grid while the government built a primary school after purchasing a piece of land. A temporary police camp was built in the village, but they want it to be a permanent one.

Bishwajit said now they wanted to meet the PM as some of their demands -- for a permanent police camp, creation of jobs, lease of a nearby water body -- were still not fulfilled.

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