At least 14 Hindu families, allegedly evicted from their homesteads by a local Jubo League leader, have been living like refugees for years.
There are allegations that Zakir Hossain, a leader of ruling Awami League’s youth wing Jubo League in Taltali upazila of Barguna district, has been looking to gobble up the lands owned by these Hindu families for a long time.
In the face of torture by goons hired by Zakir and his elder brother Salam, the first three of these 14 families left their homestead and took refuge in the Borguna district town in 2013. Two more families followed them next year.
On March 13, the last nine families left their homesteads together and came to Barguna town.
During a recent visit to the Chandantala village – home of these 14 families – this correspondent saw deserted homesteads and ponds.
Locals, who did not want to be named for understandable security concerns, said grabbers have for long been trying to persuade these Hindu families to sell their lands at low prices.
As they refused, politically influential grabbers inflicted inhuman torture on these Hindu families, eventually forcing them out of their homes.
Jadav Sarker, a victim, said: “Abur Rashid, a local influential, have been pressuring me for a long time for extortion. His men teased my daughter on her way to and from school. I filed a case under the women and children repression prevention act and he served jail terms in that case. Later I withdrew the case after local Awami League leaders told me to. But after getting released from jail, Rashid started torturing us again. That was why we had no option but to leave.”
Locals said Rashid is known a close associate of Jubo League leader Zakir and his brother.
This correspondent tried to contact Zakir and Salam but found nobody at home. They were not available on their mobile phones either.
Local union parishad Chairman Nazrul Islam Kalu Patwari said: “Locals formed a human chain against Rashid. There have also been several arbitrations. But nothing worked. The way the Hindu families left their home, this is unacceptable.”
When contacted, Barguna police chief (SP) Md Saiful Islam and Deputy Commissioner Meer Zahurul Islam both assured doing whatever needed to bring these Hindu families back to their homes and ensure their security.
Source: Dhaka Tribune