Males desert Munshiganj

Cops ransack houses, beat up villagers; over 20,000 sued
Tensions heightened in Hashara area of Munshiganj yesterday as law enforcers allegedly ransacked some 50 houses and beat locals apparently in revenge for the death of a colleague the previous day.

Locals had been gripped with fear of arrest and most of the male members hiding since the pitched battle between law enforcers and people protesting the proposed Bangabandhu International Airport on Arial Beel on Monday.

In connection with the clash that had left 100 people injured and a sub-inspector killed, Sreenagar police filed three separate cases against 6,000 to 7,000 locals in each around 2:00am yesterday.

And, Abdul Matin, a public prosecutor and Awami League Munshiganj town unit president, has filed a case against 3,000 people with BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia as the chief accused, our Munshiganj correspondent Farhana Barna reported.

Following the filing of the cases, Rab and police promptly began separate drives to arrest the accused.

Munshiganj Superintendent of Police Shafiqul Islam said they had arrested six persons in the morning. Rab Munshiganj camp Commander Milan Mahmud said they had raided Baroikhali, Laskarpur and Shologhar areas.

During the drives law enforcers vandalised and looted several houses, alleged Shajahan Badal, convener of Arial Beel Rakkha Committee and an accused in the three cases.

Inspector Farid of Sreenagar police lodged a case for the killing of SI Motiur Rahman and Inspector Abdul Kuddus filed another for attack on police at Chhanbari. SI Ataur Rahman filed the third case for setting fire to Hashara police outpost.

Yesterday the areas wore a deserted look. Shopkeepers at Lashkarpur Bazar, Alampur Bazar, Dhali Bari Bus Stand, Hashara School Bus Stand area kept the shutters closed.

In the morning, locals said Armed Police Battalion members swooped on innocent pedestrians and rickshaw pullers near Hashara Bus Stand at around 11:45am.

Shop owners said about 10 to 12 people were picked up by police while other witnesses said at least 20 people were beaten up.

Chinu Rani Sarkar, mother of Ajay Sarkar, who was held by the armed police, said, “My son was not involved in any demonstration on Monday. He just came back from his in-laws’ house today [yesterday].”

Police also assaulted ATN Bangla reporter Shawkat Milton and a cameraperson of Baishakhi TV cameraperson MK Rahul when they went to cover the incident.

A tea stall owner, who opened his stall for a very short time, told The Daily Star “Who would dare open shops after the police action? Besides, police have also filed three cases.”

“Fearing backlash, some people stayed in the Beel at night while some took shelter in nearby villages,” said Aminul Islam, a local youth of Lashkarpur. He, too, had spent night outside.

SSC candidates were a bag of nerves on the eve of the exam. “The SSC examinees were panicking before entering the exam halls,” said Mohan, a middle-aged man of the locality.

Locals say police action in Hashara union began hours after the Monday turmoil.

“Over 100 people, some in police uniform and some in black dresses, started the operation around 2:30am [of yesterday] while we were sleeping,” an elderly woman told The Daily Star, preferring anonymity.

Many Hashara residents had alleged more than 50 houses have been vandalised by law enforcers.

Sakhawat Hossain, officer-in-charge of Sreenagar Police Station, denied the allegation and said they raided to recover four firearms “which the demonstrators looted after setting fire to Hashara police outpost”.

He claimed one of the four shotguns was found abandoned in Sreenagar at Monday midnight.

However, Ozear Rahman, who is in charge of Hashara highway police outpost, said they successfully save those arms on Monday. Only 15 bullets were lost during the incident, he said.

This corresponded visiting Laskarpur area of the union found at least 50 houses ransacked. Furniture, refrigerators and window panes were all damaged.

The law enforcers had rummaged through the houses and beat residents who protested the exercise.

Seventy-year-old Sabirunnesa, who lives in her two-room house with her widowed daughter, said “the intruders” vandalised their showcase, windows and ceiling fan.

“I saved Tk 8,000 painstakingly over a long time to pay the instalment of a micro credit. But the law enforcers took it away,” Shilpi Begum, a poor woman who lives in a small hut, said as she wiped her tears.

Momena Begum, the wife of Sheikh Mokhles, a local farmer, alleged “the intruders” vandalised their showcase and almirah and took away her ornaments and Tk 50,000 cash.

“My husband was not home last night fearing police arrest,” she said.

Saidur Rahman, a rickshaw puller, said police raided and vandalised his house. Family of Ratan, an expatriate, had almost the same experience.

Police beat up Nurul Huda, imam of Uttar Laskarpur Masjid, to stop him from making any announcement on the mosque loudspeaker about police atrocities, said Aminul, a resident of the area.

Najmul Alam Nobin, back from Munshiganj


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