Though ruling Awami League is taking a strong stance against corruption and pollution, the party has nominated candidates who are accused in murder and graft cases for next month's upazila election to Sunamganj and Sylhet.
Khairul Huda Chopol, convener of Sunamganj Jubo League and president of Sunamganj Chambers of Commerce, has been nominated by AL for Sunamganj Sadar upazila.
Khairul is an accused in a case filed by Anti-Corruption Commission on July 2, 2017 for corruption and purposeful mismanagement in levee construction in Sunamganj.
That year, Sunamganj was hit by flash floods and almost all the Boro rice cultivation was washed away.
ACC found gross negligence and corruption in the dam construction and filed a case against Nur Trading's owner Khairul and 64 others. He was arrested at Dhaka airport on August 16 that year while trying to board a Canada-bound flight. Khairul is now out on bail.
Contacted, Khairul told The Daily Star, “I was not involved in any sort of corruption… I will be acquitted in the case soon… ACC did not find anything against me.”
Matiur Rahman, president of Sunamganj district unit of AL, said, “We suggested several names for the central committee's consideration. The candidates' records were also attached along with Khairul's.”
“It was their [central] decision. They even nominated two candidates who were not proposed by the grassroots,” he said, adding that such decisions affect grassroots politics.
Abdur Rahim in Dowarabazar upazila and Rafiqul Islam Talukder of Bishwambarpur in Sunamganj were not in the primary proposal, he said.
Meanwhile, AL nominated Pradip Roy, general secretary of Derai upazila unit AL, for the upazila. He is an accused in a triple murder case filed over a dispute centring wetlands on January 19, 2017.
In Sylhet, the party nominated Jaintiapur upazila AL's general secretary Liaquat Ali for the upazila. Liaquat is allegedly involved in extracting stone illegally in Gowainghat and Jaintiapur upazilas.
He is also an accused in a murder case, which took place on December 3, 2017, over stone extraction at Jaintiapur.
Illegal stone extraction poses serious threats to the environment, and many workers are being killed during the extraction, said Abdul Karim Kim, general secretary of Bapa's Sylhet chapter. “Liaquat Ali is behind it. It's disgraceful that AL nominated him for the upazila polls,” he alleged.
Moreover, Sylhet District Muktijoddha Sangsad forwarded an e-mail to the Prime Minister's Office, mentioning six names of tentative upazila chairman candidates whose fathers were allegedly involved with “Shanti Committee” (collaborators force of the Pakistan army) during the Liberation War.
From the list, AL nominated Liaquat Ali for Jaintiapur upazila and Golam Kibria Helal for Gowainghat, alleged Subrata Chakrabarty Juwel, Muktijoddha commander of Sylhet district.
Contacted, Liaquat said, “These are just allegations and propaganda... I'm not involved with illegal stone extraction or murder… I stand against such activities.”
“My father was not involved in war crimes. My late elder brother was a freedom fighter and I'm involved with Awami League politics since my childhood,” he claimed.
Shafiqur Rahman Chowdhury, general secretary of Sylhet district unit of Awami League, said, “We have proposed several names to the central nomination board. They nominated the candidates after scrutiny.”