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Dhaka Tribune

New Colony eviction: ‘They didn’t give us even a little time’

Update : 20 Jan 2016, 07:31 PM

More than 100 families residing at Mohammadpur’s New Colony for decades were evicted in broad daylight this week, allegedly by people under the protection of Jahangir Kabir Nanak, MP, and local Awami League leader Masud Bari, defying a court order, residents claimed.

They said the government had told them that the flats would be handed over to them once they paid rents for 30 years. But later, the government said it was planning to construct high-rises there and that the lower and middle-class people would have to buy the flats.

They said MP Nanak and the commissioner were defying court’s order as they were from the ruling party. One Badshah, known as the local ward councillor’s henchman, was seen leading the eviction drive. He was heard shouting: “Why are the houses not being demolished? Tear down everything, kick everyone out.”

Residents piled up their belongings at a playground in Lalmatia during eviction. Some said they were not given time to move out. Some were seen loading their belongings on trucks and peddled rickshaws. As soon as this correspondent approached them, they asked: “Where will we go now?”

One Mosharraf Hossain said: “We have been living her for 62 years and have the right to get flats at cheap rate. But they have been allotted to local politicians and goons instead. They held secret meetings with ward Commissioner Mizan. They have been allotted the flats but the 114 families were given nothing.”

Many said they thought the government would arrange places for them to stay. “But it will cost much and we are not financially solvent now.” Last week, the court asked the government to explain why it was going ahead with the eviction. Plaintiffs said the state counsel could not submit necessary documents before the court. The next hearing is scheduled for January 21. The court had ordered not to go ahead with the eviction until then.

“But they defied the order. They are not only razing the buildings but also defying the court,” the residents said.

A woman, whose family was evicted, could hardly control her tears. “They did not give us time and beat up the women in presence of police. We went to Mohammadpur police but our complaint was not registered. We bought the flat for Tk8 lakh. Locals goons and henchmen of Mr Nanak are evicting us,” she said.

Colony residents said police had arrested a number of men from there on Monday night saying they could interfere with government duties. Shirin Ahsan, a colony resident, said: “They were arrested to make sure hassle-free eviction drive by the local goons. Police did not register our case when we were beaten up in the past. Are we not citizens of this country?”

Another colony resident Zaria told the Bangla Tribune: “We are victims of a conspiracy by Masud Bari, Bodi, Sohag, Akbar, Ujjal, and Jamal. They settled here about a decade ago and formed an alliance. They roped in a real-estate developer in their conspiracy. They call themselves workers of the Awami League and the prime minister, and hold clandestine meetings with Mr Nanak. He supported us initially but later turned against us.”

A woman vented her anger at the ruling party. “Do we not support the Awami League? Did we not vote for the party? Then why were we beaten today? Why were our houses ransacked and destroyed?”

She continued: “We went to Mohammapur police station the night before the eviction but police did not cooperate. We saw Ward No. 32 Awami League unit president Masud Bari there, sitting cosily and laughing, perhaps at our futile efforts.”

When approached, Masud told the Bangla Tribune: “Those making such claims are trying to create confusion. The old buildings need to be demolished before construction of high-rises here. As an Awami League activist, I cannot oppose the government’s development initiatives.”

Locals said 114 families – including those of freedom fighters, journalists and doctors – had been living in the seven buildings for a long time. The ruling party MP did not respond to the Bangla Tribune’s requests for comments.

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