Local influentials occupy water bodies and bar fishermen from fishing
For decades, the fishing community of Sunamganj has been denied the opportunity to engage in fishing in the jalmahals [open water bodies] as an influential group of locals hold control over them all year long.
Although these fishermen get lease of these jalmahals on paper, they hardly benefit from them.
As a result, the fate of the grassroots fishermen has not changed. Due to a lack of supervision of the authorities, the jalmahals are under the control of the influential group, fishermen alleged.
There are many large jalmahals in different parts of the haor-based district. Fisheries, lifting stones, and farming paddy are the main income sources of the people in the region.
Fishermen Kanak of Sullah upazila and Kacha Mia of Jamalganj upazila said although they are living near the jammahals, the guards hired by the influential people bar them from catching fish from these water bodies.
Mia Dhan of Monigao village in Tahirpur upazila said they are awarded the lease of the jalmahals on paper but they are compelled to sell their right to the local influential individuals for money.
The local dominants, dubbed as “water lords”, make huge profits farming there year round.
If anyone protests these incidents, they are gunned down. Several incidents of murder have already taken place in the haor.
Deputy Commissioner Sabirul Islam said: "We give the lease of water bodies to the fishermen following their application.”
He said no fishermen made any allegation that they could not catch fish in the jalmahal. "If we receive such a complaint, we will consider it seriously and take necessary measures.”