The family of a martyred freedom fighter in a remote village in Hatibandha upazila of Lalmonirhat district has been virtually held hostage in their house for the past 40 days allegedly by some "influential" people over a land dispute.
Though Nayek Mojibur Rahman is no more, his three sons and their families live in the house on a 30 decimal land parcel in Char Thangjhara village. They claim their repeated complaints to the local police station have only fallen on deaf ears.
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During a recent visit to the village, UNB also found that the "influential" people illegally fell trees and erected bamboo fences around the boundary of Nayek Mojibur's house to restrict the movement of his family members.
Local residents said that a person named Shahidul Islam and his men were behind the act.
Mizanur, one of the martyred freedom fighter's sons, said, "We have been living in the house since 1966. But a month and a half back, Shahidul's men suddenly came and placed logs and erected bamboo fences around our house. We are living in fear."
Mizanur's wife Shirina Begum alleged that Shahidul had illegally cut as many as 13 trees on their land and even stole fish from our pond.
On January 23, Mizanur filed a police complaint against eight people. "Local police have not yet taken any action in the matter. We now seek justice from Bangladesh Prime Minister and local MP Motahar Hossain. Please help us."
On the other hand, Shahidul Islam, son of Abdul Quader of the village, claimed he's the legal owner of the house, as per the land records of 1962. "We have also filed a complaint at the local police station. Anyway, the issue can be resolved after a meeting.”
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When contacted, Ershadul Islam, officer-in-charge of Hatibandha Police Station, said, “We recently visited the spot, and a meeting has been scheduled between the two groups in our presence. But action will be taken against those involved in illegal felling of trees."
Around 5,000 trucks loaded with goods are waiting to cross into Bangladesh at India's Petrapole land port, on the other side of the Benapole border. While they have been stranded, trade between the two countries has been greatly affected. It has already had a major impact on revenue collection (import duties).
These trade stoppages at Benapole-Petrapole are becoming increasingly frequent, caused by various complications that are being deliberately stoked ahead of elections in the Indian state of West Bengal, that borders Bangladesh. Millions are collected from the trucks every day throughout their ordeal.
Other traders, including importers and C&F agents, have reduced imports through Benapole port due to long delays in importing goods.
Also Read: Trade suspended through Benapole port
According to the Benapole port, trade with India is worth Tk 24,000 crore every year. Benapole Customs House directly and indirectly earns revenue of Tk 10,000 crore annually. Seven to eight hundred truckloads of goods are imported from India every day through Benapole port. At present the number is down to 300-400. On the other side, the mayor of Bangaon municipality Shankar Adya Daku created a privately owned park called Kalitala Parking and forces the trucks to enter it. Rs. 2,000 is being taken from each truck illegally.
Sources further said that at present it takes 15 to 20 days for a truck to be imported to Bangladesh. All the subscription money has to be paid to the Bangladeshi importers. For these huge additional costs many are turning away from Benapole port.
On Tuesday morning, Benapole Customs Commissioner Azizur Rahman held a meeting with Indian traders and customs to increase the number of imported trucks and increase revenue.
Sajedur Rahman, general secretary of the Benapole Customs C&F Agent Employees Association, said there is a terrible traffic jam on the other side of Benapole. About 5,000 trucks with imported goods are waiting on the other side of the port. It now takes about 15 days to enter Benapole port from Petrapole's Kalitala parking lot. As a result, importers and C&F agents are suffering and import costs are rising.
Also Read: Indian goods import suspended at Benapole land port
Matiar Rahman, director of the India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce, said a strong syndicate has been formed at the Indian port of Petrapole on the other side of Benapole to import goods by land. His people, led by Bangaon Municipality Mayor Shankar Adhya Dakur, are collecting Rs. 2,000 per day from each truck. If a truck loaded with goods is stuck on the other side for 20 days, he has to pay Rs. 40,000. As a result, the importers are suffering huge financial losses.
Mofizur Rahman Sajan, president of the Benapole Custom Clearing and Forwarding Agents Association, said 75 per cent of the country's industrial establishments carry raw materials as well as various food items through the port. Delays in importing goods are having an impact on many industries. Besides, it is also having an impact on revenue collection.
Also Read: Trade through Benapole land port resumes after 10 weeks
Benapole Customs Commissioner Azizur Rahman said, "We are holding regular meetings with Indian customs and traders to increase revenue and increase the number of trucks."
The Chittagong Port Authority has taken back the last 52 acres of Laldia Char in Patenga after over 2300 families residing there without legal ownership of the land left in advance of a deadline announced earlier by the CPA, which was obeying a court order. It was a much more cordial occasion than most eviction drives witnessed in the capital, that often take place without warning.
The eviction drive, that was announced for Monday, March 1 well in advance and clearly communicated to the residents, was hardly noticeable in the end, passing without any untoward incident.
The 52 acres recovered today was cordoned off with barbed wire. Laldiar Char would now be used for a multipurpose terminal.
Most of the residents of the area were moved there by the newly independent Bangladesh's government in 1972 from their original residences in nearby Patenga, where the Port City's airport was being expanded. But they never gained legal ownership of the land, which was purchased for CPA in 1935.
Many residents voluntarily relocated in the last few days since the eviction was announced. Residents who were waiting until the last minute to see if the eviction could be stopped started leaving their homes on their own initiative this morning. Many people sold off furniture for a nominal price. Some have been seen sitting helpless with luggage due to lack of rickshaws, vans and trucks.
In the morning, the executive magistrate of the port, the magistrate of the district administration and senior officials of the port visited the char area of Laldia. A large number of RAB, police and Ansar members were deployed before the eviction.
Port authorities said mosques, primary schools and cemeteries would be excluded from the eviction.
Rear Admiral M Shahjahan, chairman of the port authority, held a press conference in the morning at the Patenga Boat Club during the eviction.
He said, “The port authority owns the Laldia Char site in Chittagong. Now we need the place for backup of PCT (Patenga Container Terminal). We have already evicted 26 acres before. Today we recover 52 acres of land.
"We have encouraged residents to leave voluntarily. As promised, 90 percent has gone. There is no need to apply force. We will fence our area so that no one can occupy it, he added.
Regarding their rehabilitation, the port chairman said, "The government arranges rehabilitation for the grassroots through the deputy commissioner in case of eviction of illegal occupants." We have sent a list to help them. "
The High Court directed the Chittagong Port Authority to evict the illegal establishment from Karnafuli Laldiar Char in Patenga in the light of the writ filed by Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh (Writ No. 6306/10).
A virtual high court bench comprising Justice Ashfaqul Islam and Justice Mohammad Ali ordered eviction of illegal structures from Laldia Char in the port area of Karnafuli river bank within the next two months on December 8.
Chittagong Police Commissioner, DC, RAB Commander, CDA Chairman and City Corporation Administrator have been named as defendants in the case. Lawyer Manzil Morshed appeared in favour of the writ petition. On the other hand, lawyer Murad Reza appeared for the Chittagong Port Authority.
A massive fire has destroyed houses in Gazipur’s Konabari area.
The fire was reported from a colony in Baimail.
Four firefighting units initially worked at the spot. They were later joined by two more units.
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The six units contained the blaze around 10pm.
Gazipur Fire Service Deputy Director Md Hamid Mia said the fire was first reported around 8pm from a warehouse in the colony and spread rapidly to nearby tin-shed houses.
The cause of the fire could not be known immediately.
At least 2 persons were killed in separate road crashes in Sitakunda.
The deceased were identified as Shams Tahiyat Maunota (16), a class 10 student of Bangladesh Military Academy High School and Touhidul Islam Jafor (51), an assistant teacher at Sadak Mastan (RA) High School in Fakrihat Upazila.
According to the highway police and locals, Maunota was hit by a minibus in Kasem jute mill area, while returning home in the morning. She was taken to the hospital by locals where she died at around 12 pm.
Bar Aulia Highway Police Station SI Md. Babul Moiya said, We came to know after the accident. The bus was detained at the police station. The locals handed over the bus and its driver to the police."
Touhidul was killed as he was hit by a motorcycle on Saturday night. The incident took place at Sarij Bhuiyan Road in the upazila around 8pm on Saturday. Although he was rescued and rushed to a hospital in Chittagong, he died at 12:30 am.
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Abu Zafar Saad, the headmaster of the Sadak Mastan High School, said Tauhidul was hit by an unidentified vehicle as he was crossing the road from his home at night.