Widespread Panic as People flee homes amid Joint Forces crackdown in Shibganj, Chapai Nawabganj

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January 18, 2015

Villagers were seen fleeing their village along with all their belongings and baggage, in fear of raids by Joint forces. This was a scene witnessed last Saturday evening at the village of Mohdipur under Shivganj upazilla of Chapai Nawabganj.

Local people complained that combing operations were conducted by Joint forces in 35 houses of the villages of Rosulpur and Chandipur along with the raid on Mohdipur village. Houses were vandalized and ransacked at the time of the operations. Some of the activists of Awami League, the ruling party, were also seen active in the raids along with the security personnel, donning helmets.

Police at Shivganj police station informed that this operation continued throughout the daytime last Thursday. Besides District Police Super Bashir Ahmed, Captain of 9 Border Guard Battalion Lieutenant Colonel Abu Zafar Shekh Muhammad Bajlul Haque and company commander of RAB-5, Major Kamruzzaman also led the security operation.

In response to queries about beating general people up and allegations of vandalism of public property, Police Super of Chapai Nawabganj informed Prothom Alo, “Operation was conducted under supervision of senior officers of the Joint Forces. There was no scope for unlawful act. Pushing the door to enter inside was needed only in the cases of nabbing convicts. Apart from that, nobody complained to us about any instance of vandalism.”.

Just before sunset last Saturday, 15-16 women & infants, carrying their blankets & trunks along, were seen going towards Shivganj’s Ujirpur. When asked about where they were going, they said that they were leaving their village out of fear of raids by Joint Forces.

On Saturday afternoon, signs of vandalizing were seen in 16-17 houses of the villages of Mohdipur and Rosulpur of Shibganj. Aftermaths of smashing of TV, furniture and ceramic utensils were seen in almost all the houses and while in other houses signs of vandalizing fridges and setting motor vehicles on fire were evident. Furthermore, a burnt firewood stack was observed in one household, while a burnt kitchen and burnt haystack were observed in another household.

In the house of Nazrul Islam, co-president of Noyalavanga Union BNP and inhabitant of the village of Mohdipur, 3 rooms were vandalized and the paddy-store was burnt down. Nazrul Islam’s wife Saleha Begum complained that at 11 AM on Thursday, 22nd January, 2015, RAB and police broke in through the back door and vandalized family belongings in the three rooms for almost 3 hours. Later, they set fire to the paddies’ store (a big container made of clay and bamboo for storing crops). About 30 maunds of paddy were burned down.

Hailing from Rosulpur, welding mechanic Yasin Ali’s wife Chompa Begum alleged that her husband wasn’t in any political party. Yet their house was vandalized and the TV set, refrigerator, rice cooker, showcase and utensils were shattered. Their motor cycle was also set on fire and burned.

His daughter Atifa, a student of class three, said that around 20 men wearing black garments (RAB) had entered their house and carried out the raid.

Signs of vandalisms were also seen at the house of Abu Bakkar, a BNP activist of the same village. The house of late Hazrat of the same village was also vandalized. His daughter Jamila Khatun, an SSC examinee, said, “We cried and begged the RAB men to stop, stating that that we had no parents, that we were very poor. We pleaded with them not to ruin our home. But they wouldn’t listen. My elder sister was also beaten up.”

A motor cycle, TV sets, refrigerator, showcases, 2 dressing tables, rice cooker and utensils belonging to BNP activist Monimul of the same village were also vandalized. His wife Hamida alleged, “My little son was rolling on floor crying and begging the BGB members outside the house not to set the motor cycle on fire. But they didn’t listen. I requested the RAB men to stop, informing them that my husband, brother-in-law and father-in-law weren’t active in any politics. They told me that we have come based on information. If any further arson attacks occur on vehicles on the streets of the locality, we won’t let this village exist anymore.”

Vandalism also took place in the residence of Awami League supporter Md. Sohubul and his son Ismail during the Joint Forces’ raid. Sohubul complained that RAB members had vandalized his house.

Besides damaging and setting fire to the motor cycle of Monimul Haq from Rosulpur village, who a member of the municipal committee of Shivganj BNP, 4 showcases, 2 TV sets, 2 dressing tables were also smashed and vandalized.

Villagers say that hundreds of families from Mohdipur, Rosulpur & Chandipur had fled their villages along with valuable belongings and had taken shelter in houses belonging to their relatives in the other villages. The fleeing villagers are wary of another raid.

In response to queries about these complaints, Major Kamruzzaman, company commander of RAB-5, informed, “No such incident took place. These allegations aren’t true either”.

Source: Prothom Alo