Rights campaigners yesterday slammed the lawmaker of Thakurgaon-2 constituency for allegedly carrying out an attack on religious minorities to “grab their land.”
“A trend of grabbing the land of the minorities and attacking the weak groups has begun. It has happened not only in Baliadangi. There are such allegations against MPs and ministers in other places as well,” said Sultana Kamal, executive director of Ain o Salish Kendra.
Lawmaker of Thakurgaon-2 constituency, which falls in Baliadangi upazila, Dabirul Islam, however, denied the allegation.
Expressing frustration over inertness of both the administration and police in dealing with the issues, the rights activists also asked the government to be strict against the land grabbers. They said this at a press conference organised to reveal the findings of an investigation into allegations of grabbing the land of minorities by the lawmaker and his son.
The investigation conducted by the National Citizen Coordination Cell to Implement the Vested Property Return Act has found a group of people led by the lawmaker's son Mazharul Islam attacked the minorities to grab their land.
“Dabirul was directly involved in the incident,” said Sultana in a reply.
The rights campaigners demanded a judicial probe into the allegation of grabbing the land of the Hindus. They urged the authorities to take a stern action against the people involved in land grabbing and attacking the minorities.
Quoting the victims, General Secretary of the Cell Subrata Chowdhury said the lawmaker's son had been putting pressure on the minority families to sell their land.
The investigation report says the lawmaker and his family have set up a tea garden -- Ranbag Islami Tea Estate Company -- in the bordering areas of the upazila.
Some 10 Hindu families have 35 acres of arable land and a tea garden inside the tea estate spreading over 106 acres of land surrounded by Indian border on three sides, it adds.
The Hindus used one acre of land belonging to one Akul Chandra Singh as a corridor to go to their land. If the land was grabbed, they could not go to their land.
According to the report, Akul on June 10 last year sowed plants on his land, but some people loyal to the lawmaker allegedly destroyed those by cultivating the land that afternoon. Mazharul even threatened Akul a week later, the investigation report says.
Later on June 19, 25-30 people led by Mazharul chased Akul, Bhakaram Singh and Janok Chandra Singh with hand-made weapons. Akul eventually fled to India for shelter.
Eight to 10 men and some other people were injured in the attack, the report says.
Denying the allegation, lawmaker Dabirul told our Thakurgaon correspondent that it was totally false and baseless. A vested quarter is trying to tarnish his image by spreading such rumours, he alleged.
Deputy Commissioner of Thakurgaon Mukesh Chandra Biswas said he along with Superintendent of Police Abdur Rahim Shah Chowdhury visited the spot seven months ago following the allegations.
“Practically, we didn't find any truth behind the allegation of grabbing land by the lawmaker,” he said.
He also said they did not find any evidence of torture on the minority people.
However, Jiten Chandra Singh, one of the victims who lost two bighas of land, told reporters at the press conference that his college going son Ovilal Singh had fled to India following the attack.
“He is not returning home despite my repeated requests in fear of attack by the land grabbers,” he told The Daily Star.
Talking to reporters, Akul said he was going through unbearable sufferings as it had become difficult for him to stay in the country.