Miscreants burn down an indigenous house in Gazipur

On 24 October 2013 midnight, the house of Ratan Sangma (35), s/o Sujit Gabil was burnt to ashes by a group of miscreants at Kewachala Garo Para of Shreepur municipality under Gazipur district. This attack was allegedly made by a group of Bengalis led by Shajahan Mian, s/o late Abdul Mannan; Masud Rana, s/o Sirajul Islam and Delwar Hossain, s/o late Noor Muhamad, all of who are known as local Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leaders.

It is learnt that the incident was originated from a soccer match took place between the youths of Garo Para Mission and Kewachala Garo Para on 23 October 2013 where Kewachala Garo Para won. After the victory, the villagers of Kewachala decided to organize a celebration event on the following day. However, they did not invite the aforementioned BNP leaders in that event. As a consequence, those leaders felt offended and threatened the Kewachala’s indigenous villagers to ruin the celebration event. Despite this threat, however, the indigenous villagers organized the event the next day (24 October) in the evening where Md. Anisur Rahman, the Mayor of Shreepur municipality (belonging to Awami League) was present as the chief guest. After Md. Anisur left the venue at around 10:00 pm, Shajahan Mian, Masud Rana and Delwar Hossain along with a gang of Bengalis vandalized the stage of the event. Consequently, a minor altercation took place between the attackers and the indigenous villagers present there. After a little while the program was shut down and the agitated people were placated as some leaders of both the conflicting groups took a step. Notably, though Ratan, the victim was present at the spot, he was not involved with the clash that took place in there.

Later on when all left the place of the incident, Ratan also returned home and went to bed at 11:30 pm along with his wife and children. At around 3:00 am in the morning Ratan and other members of his family suddenly woke up as they felt extreme heat being emitted from the fire spreading all over their home. Then they somehow managed to get out of their home and called their neighbors for help. However, meanwhile their home was burnt to ashes along with all the valuables they had. Estimated loss of assets from this incident was approximately BDT 1 million.

Ratan Sangma alleged Shajahan Mian, Masud Rana and Delwar Hossain for the arson as he was confirmed about the perpetrators from different reliable sources. A case [case no. 4385(3)/1 dated 26 October 2013] was filed against the alleged perpetrators with Shreepur Model Police Station by Ratan’s family. However, police has not taken any action against the perpetrators yet. Neither has taken any initiative by other government agencies/ representatives and non-government organizations to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Notably, the main reason behind the attack was to grab the land of Ratan and his family, as confirmed by Ratan’s family. Even six months ago Shajahan and his gang once attempted to forcefully grab their land. At that time Ratan and other local indigenous people jointly resisted them. Since then Shajahan and companions have threatened and harassed Ratan’s family many times.

Update on Gazipur Incident

Following the incident of arson attack on Ratan Sangma’s house on 24/25 October 2013, another attack was made by the same miscreants on 11 November 2013. The miscreants attacked Ashoke Chisam, son of Amulya Rema, an uncle of Ratan Sanmga leaving him severely injured.

On the day at 9:00 am Ashoke was returning home by his motorbike leaving his child at the school. When he arrived at the local marketplace, the Bengali miscreants led by Masud Rana, son of Sirajul Islam obstructed him and started bashing him indiscriminately with iron rods and sticks. Ashoke somehow managed to flee from the market leaving his motorbike behind.  But he got severely injured—his hand was broken, and he got cut on his head and some other parts of the body. He has not got his motorbike back yet.

The victim went to Sreepur police station to file a case against the perpetrators the next day. However, police did not accept the case as perpetrators already had filed a fabricated case against Ashoke, Ratan and other 4/5‘unknown’ indigenous persons of the Kewachala Garo Parafor vandalizing the shop. Masud wrote in the EJAHAR that Ashoke had tried to extort BDT 270,000 from Masud. When Masud refused to give him the money, he vandalized the shop when his TV and computer were broken. However, Ashoke claimed that soon after he escaped from the hands of the miscreants, the perpetrators vandalized some parts of the shop of Masud in order to make a fabricated story.

Since the incident, the victims are on run. And other villagers are passing their days in fear and anxiety. Law enforcement agencies, other government agencies, and non-government organizations have not taken any initiatives to get the indigenous Garo villagers of Kewachala rid of this incident.

It is learnt also learnt that ever since Ratan filed a case against the perpetrators accusing arson of his house, the victims have been loitering in groups carrying sticks and like weapons around the local market through which the indigenous villagers have to pass in order to go in and out of their villages. And when the miscreants found suitable, they intimidated and verbally abused the indigenous villagers.

Both the victim and perpetrator live from renting out their houses.