The Gonojagoron Moncho, which spearheaded the Shahbag movement in the wake of the life imprisonment sentence handed over to Abdul Kader Mollah is reported to have received large amounts of financial aid from various establishments and individuals.
However, no concrete information was found as to how much money was collected or how this money was spent. In this regard, many in the movement have pointed fingers to the spokesperson of the Gonojagoron Moncho, Dr. Imran H Sarkar.
After the movement began on the 5th of February, people from all walks of life including political figures, businessmen, bankers and working class people announced their support. To financially support the movement, these people came forward with all they could afford with. Most of this money found its way through many avenues to the leader Imran H Sarker. Through the first two days of the movement, Imran was heard announcing the benefactors of the movement and the respective amounts they had donated for the cause. That however, soon stopped as the movement progressed to the next day and the issue was never heard of again.
To address the rising issue of how the money was spent, leaflets were published at Shahbag which detailed some of the donors and the amounts they had donated for the movement. However, news of the donors and their donations was disregarded and dismissed by Imran and some of the leaders of the Gonojagoron Moncho as false and misleading.
A student leader associated with the movement said that whatever the source of any financial aid received, the collectors would deposit that money with Imran. After that, whatever the amount required was taken from Imran by the organizers. However, it was noticed that after the start of the movement, Imran’s old mobile set was quickly replaced by an expensive set and a tab. In the two months that the movement continued, he wore a new dress (Panjabi) everyday he showed up at the podium. All these incidents did not fool the eyes of the media and many related news items have been published in different media.
The leaflets distributed have been collected by media personnel and reveal details of various benefactors. Donors and donations in taka include but were not limited to FBCCI Chairman Kazi Akram Uddin 60 lakhs, Bashundhara Group 20 lakhs, Ispahani Group 10 lakhs, Ha Meem Group 20 lakhs, Otobi 10 lakhs, Bestway Group 5 lakh, Biopharma 5 lakhs, a leading daily newspaper 4 lakhs, ex-SP Mahbub 4 laks, Incepta 5 lakhs, Faridur Reza Shagor 60 thousand, journalist Abid Khan 25 thousand, Advocate Anisul Haq 10 thousand and Kaniz Sultana 10 thousand among many others. A lot of money is also reported to have come through the President of Sammilito Sangskritik Jote, Nasir Uddin Yusuf Bacchhu and even more from non-resident Bangladeshis from overseas. The total amount is believed to be about two crore taka. This is believed to exclude aid comprising other essential items such as water, food, laptops, etc. All this cash is believed to have found its way to the hands of Imran.
Allegations have surfaced that the money spent behind the movement has been minimal and that most of it is with Imran and a group of his trusted associates. Allegations have also surfaced that Imran has hoarded a lot of the money to a friend living abroad. However, all such allegations have been refuted by blogger Maruf Rasul, who added that some benefactors may have contributed to providing assistance for essential items such as food and water, the amount of which could not have exceeded 10 to 15 thousand taka. Maruf also said that they did not receive much assistance from overseas, adding that Bengalis living abroad had helped more in the dissemination of the message of Shahbag
The President of Chatra Moitri, Bappa Ditya Bosu said that such lists were nothing new, but were actually published to mislead people. He however confessed that he knew of the donation given by ex SP Mahbub (4 lakhs), adding that the money had been given to Imran in front of him. Bappa said that although a lot of cash was required for running a movement of such proportions, the various student fronts had little to do with the flow of money. All spending had been facilitated by Imran, he added.
Referring to the issues at hand, Imran said that the activists used to collect money whenever it was required. Hence, it was difficult to a keep an account of the collection and the spending. As a result, it was impossible to say how much money had been collected or spent. Refuting the notion that a lot of aid had come from Bangladeshis living abroad, he said that benefactors had been strictly informed to give all proceeds via the media cell of the Gonojagoron Moncho. He acknowledged that more than 4 lakh taka had come from Anu Group based in New York via Anisul Haq and that this news had been published in the Prothom Alo. In this way, they had to collect quite a lot of money to meet the demands of the movement. However, Jamaat and Shibir had hatched conspiracies to make such transactions seem furtive and in the process had personally attacked him. The questions raised about his role in spending were a part of this deep seated conspiracy.
Translated from: Amader Shomoy Report