A vandalism case has been filed on Thursday against nine locals, including two deceased men, over a clash between locals and forest officers in Gazipur’s Sreepur upazila.
Aside from the deceased, Sreepur MP Md Rahmat Ali’s nephew Ahsanullah is among the accused, confirmed Inspector (Investigation) Rafiqul Islam of the upazila police station.
The other accused are Abdus Salam, Alamin, Masud, Parul Begum, Julekha, and Mita Begum, among whom the latter is not from the area.
Sreepur Bormi Union Parishad Chairman Badal Sharkar confirmed the deaths of the two accused by disclosing the death certificates of Shamsher Ali who died of cancer in 2006 and Mohor Ali who died of a heart attack in 2012.
Inspector Rafiqul said the Sreepur Sadar forest bit officer filed a vandalism case accusing the nine for attacking the forest officers in connection with grabbing forest land.
According to local witnesses, a clash broke out between the officers and landless local villagers on Monday, leaving 15 people injured including four officers.
The witnesses said the clash was triggered when locals attacked forest officer Mozammel Haque after he was seen abusing Parul, the wife of Abdus Salam.
“The locals attacked Mozammel and the other forest officers when they saw him mistreating Parul. The incited locals also vandalised the forest officers’ motorbikes,” they said.
Abdus Salam said his family is landless so he paid an extortion amount of Tk10,000 to build a shanty on the forest land, where he lived with his family.
“A few days ago my shanty’s roof and fence were blown off during a storm. While my shanty was being restored on Monday, Upazila Forest Range Officer Mozammel Haque along with a few other forest officials arrived at the scene, demanding an extortion of Tk20,000,” he said.
“I was away at the time of the incident,” he added.
“Mozammel told my wife he would allow us to live on the land only if we paid the extortion amount. When my wife refused to pay, Mozammel threw her out,” Abdul also said.
However, Mozammel denied the allegation, saying he arrived on the scene after being informed that the forest land was occupied.
“When I tried to stop them from occupying forest land, the locals attacked us and vandalised both of the motorbikes which we arrived on.”