The once spacious corridor that the members of about 200 impoverished Hindu families used to get access to the nearby road has been shrunken so much so that it is impossible to carry a person on wheelchair now.
The passage has now turned into around one cubit in width due to the construction two buildings by two influential businessmen of the locality, causing immense sufferings of around 1000 Hindus living in Pukurer Chala area under Bera upazila of Pabna.
Last month, Sunil Kumar Sheel, an elderly person in his 60s, died at Pukurer Chala area. The family members of the deceased had to carry the body on their shoulders through that narrow passage leading up to the main road from where they could use the cot,” a member of the Hindu community told this reporter a few days ago.
“This was the only road for our movement. We are now enduring endless sufferings as it has been occupied,” said Manik Kumar Sheel, a youth of the locality.
“Due to the lack of passage we cannot carry dead body on cot from our home to the crematorium, elderly people can't go to doctors and we face a lot of trouble to carry household goods. The administration is not doing anything for us,” said Jagannath Sheel, an elderly resident of the area.
The process of shrinking the passage, which the locals use as road for the last six decades, started eight years ago, said Sheel.
“When the influential persons started construction a few years ago, the Hindus requested them to keep enough space for movement. But the building owners did not pay heed to our request and constructed the buildings occupying khas land, the villagers said.
Abdul Awal Miah and Nazrul Islam, who constructed the buildings occupying both sides of the road, however refuted the allegation.
“We did not occupy others' land. Rather we have constructed building on our own land. When we started the construction, the Hindu people could have bought some land from us for their road. But they did not do it,” Nazrul Islam told this correspondent.
He even claimed that the Hindu people are living in others' land.
The Hindu settlers admitted that they do not have any document of ownership of the land, which covers an area of 10 bighas surrounding a big pond.
But they said that they are now the rightful owner of the land they were offered to live by the then lord's assistant Harindranath Shaha and Upendranath Shah in the 60s, when their forefathers migrated to this place after becoming landless due to erosion by the Jamuna.
The minority community went to the Deputy Commissioner's (DC) office on February 20 demanding a road.
Contacted, Pabna DC Md. Jasim Uddin told this correspondent that he had directed local authorities to look into the matter and take necessary measures to ensure a road for them.
Asked about the matter, Md Rafikullah, chairman of Puran Varenga Union Parishad, said that he has taken an initiative to solve the problem.
“I have already talked with the victims and the building owners. They (owners) have agreed to give road for the people living in Pukurer Chala area. They will dismantle a portion of their constructed structure to make the road for the residents,” Rafikullah said.