The family alleged that it all happened in the presence of Barishal MP Shah E Alam. The grabbers took over the land in the name of the Banaripara Girls Secondary School and put up a signboard last week.
Barishal-2 MP Shah E Alam, who is also the president of the governing body of the school, and Abu Bakar Siddique, principal of the institution, however, denied the allegation of land grab.
Meghna Guhathakurta, daughter of Jyotirmay, took to Facebook last week, calling for “measures against this injustice”.
The land that was grabbed is part of the same plot, a portion of which was recently donated to the Muktijoddha Complex by Anup Guha, a son of Jyotirmay’s cousin Prafulla Guha. Anup had “completed all documentation”, Meghna wrote.
In Banaripara Upazila of southern Bangladesh, Anup and his brother Pallab Guha owned 13 decimals of land. The land is situated near Banaripara Girls Secondary School, and the government had acquired 8 decimals of the land to construct Muktijoddha Complex, said Anup.
He alleged that Shah E Alam’s aides and the school authorities grabbed 5 decimals of land on Dec 30 in the presence of the MP.
“I tried to stop them at first, but MP Shah E Alam threatened to beat me and I returned home in fear for my life. They demolished the old building on the land, fencing it with tin and hung up a school signboard. My protest was futile,” Anup said.
As Shah E Alam is a local parliamentarian, it is unlikely the police will accept any complaint against him, said Anup, former president of Banaripara Communist Party, adding he has written to the deputy commissioner with the complaint and would file a court case.
“We filed a petition to the High Court in 2012 when the Banaripara Municipality tried to grab the land, showing a circular issued by the local government ministry. Later in 2014, the High Court barred their attempt permanently,” said Anup.
Abu Bakar Siddique, principal of the school, said an old building owned by the union council existed next to the main entrance of the school. The authorities demolished it to make room for the Muktijoddha Complex. Therefore, the school authorities installed a tin fence beside the road to ensure security.
“Anup and his family may now own 2.5 to 3 decimals of land here. We heard that they are going to sell it off. As this is a girls’ school, it will be a security threat to the students if the land is sold to outsiders.” The school authorities are ready to pay for the land if Anup is willing to sell it, he said.
“MP Shah E Alam was present for some time when the fence was being put up, but they didn’t threaten anyone,” said Abu Bakar.
After exposetimes.comreached Shah E Alam for comment, he said: “Why would I threaten someone? Why would I do that? That is not the job of a public representative.”
“The land is next to the main gate of the school and a matter of student security is involved and so a fence has been raised. I didn’t seize the land for myself.”
“I wasn’t there to see it being put up, but I saw the process on my way to the school and back. The owners of the land will be compensated by the school according to the market price.”
In 1966, the union council used to operate on that land, he said. The old building demolished for the Muktijoddha Complex was the old union council building, he added.
The member of parliament claimed that Anup’s father Prafulla Guha arranged a “false document” in 1977, and took ownership of the land.
Asked about this assertion, Anup said: “My father and grandfather owned property in India’s Bhabanipur. During Partition, they could not return to India to get that property and the Banaripara land was given to them as a replacement. It was called a ‘family arrangement’ at the time and was done through written documents.”
“My family has been living on that land since then, but it wasn’t entered into the registry. My father registered it in 1977.”
Asked whether they had any proof of this property transfer, Anup said his father had submitted the relevant documents to the court during registration and they no longer had it with them.
About Anup’s response, Shah E Alam said: “The country was partitioned in 1947. Why did Anup’s father wait for 30 years to register it? They submitted false government land documents and legalised them through a case.”
Anup responded to Shah E Alam’s accusation, saying that the district administration had already paid the family for the land used by the Muktijoddha Complex and would not have paid if the documents were fake.
Asked about the claim, Banaripara UNO Ripon Kumar Saha said: “As the district administration obtained the land from the owner, there wasn’t or there shouldn’t be any problem with the documentation.”