Alleged perpetrators have already been punished by local administrations, Anis Mahmud says
Islamic Foundation Director General Anis Mahmud has denied allegations that the misappropriation of financial aid for mosques is widespread in the country.
“This [misappropriation of aid for mosques] is not a big scam. There were only a few complaints of mismanagement,” he said on Sunday.
“Local administrations have already taken action against the people allegedly involved in the scams. If anyone from the Islamic Foundation is found to be guilty, they will be punished as well,” he added.
Questioned, the DG said: “We prepared the list of mosques in a very short time, that is why some names were dropped from the previous list. Now, we are preparing a supplementary list of mosques that were not included.”
Earlier, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gave financial assistance of over Tk122.02 crore to all mosques across the country due to face the Covid-19 pandemic. Subsequently, there were allegations that the aid was not distributed properly in Rangpur, Thakurgaon and some other districts.
Sources said local Islamic Foundation authorities had provided falsified lists and misappropriated funds allocated for imams and muezzins of dropped mosques.
In Rangpur, the Waktia Jame Mosque of Fakirpara village under Masumpur union of Mithapukur upazila was listed for financial assistance. However, the imam, muezzin, and the mosque president, were all completely unaware of the aid and did not receive it.
Similarly, Hamidpur Taltola Jame Mosque, Chandtari Uttarpara Jame Mosque, Chandtari Jame Mosque, Balua Paschim Para Jame Mosque, Balua Central Mosque, Bhatarpara Jame Mosque and Hamidpur Jame Mosque in Mithapukur upazila were also listed in the government's aid program, but none of their imams or muezzins received any money. Contact numbers on the government list were reportedly false.
Strangely enough, poultry farms, fish enclosures, and godowns were included as mosques in the list prepared by Mithapukur upazila Islamic Foundation.
When the matter came to light, Rezaul Islam, a supervisor of Mithapukur upazila Islamic Foundation, sued two people, Korban Ali and Sekendar Ali, for committing fraud and withdrawing cash aid intended for mosques.
However, local mosque officials claim Islamic Foundation authorities colluded with influential people to carry out the misappropriation.
When asked why only two people were named in the case, Mithapukur upazila Islamic Foundation Supervisor Rezaul Islam said the others who withdrew aid money illegally had returned it, and allegations against some others were not found to be true.
Upazila Nirbahi Officer Mamum Bhuiyan said: "The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) is investigating the matter and they will find out whether other people are involved in the irregularities."
In total, Tk5,630,000 was allocated for 1,126 mosques of Mithapukur upazila, amounting to Tk5,000 for each mosque.