• Tuesday, Jan 28, 2020
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Land dispute: 8 Gopalganj families confined in their homes

  • Published at 11:24 am September 25th, 2018
Walled off family
The tall wall that fully obstructs the pathway to the above-mentioned families’ residencesManoj Saha/Dhaka Tribune

These families, especially the children and seniors, are facing immense suffering because of the wall surrounding their homes

Eight families remain confined in their homes for two years, after an influential quarter built a wall around their residences in Kotalipara upazila of Gopalganj. 

There are allegations that Nur Islam Sheikh, a local influential man had erected a tall wall that fully obstructs the pathway to the abovementioned families’ residences. Those living inside the walls are forced to use ladders to enter and exit their own homes.

These families, especially the children and seniors, are facing immense suffering because of the wall surrounding their homes. 

These families complained that they were threatened with violence and false cases, whenever they tried to protest the inhuman act of blocking their homes off from the neighbourhood.

Speaking with the correspondent, 4th grader Jit Biswas, 5th grader Aurup Somadder, 3rd grader Kanti Joydhar and 2nd grader Devasree Biswas said they feel practically imprisoned in their own homes, and risk injury every time while climbing the ladder to attend school and going to play. 

The children added that for two years they are living confined lives, and urged that the wall be torn down to allow them freedom of movement once again.

Children of these families risk serious injury everyday | Manoj Saha/Dhaka Tribune

Meanwhile, a number of locals, including Chipmoni Biswas, Arati Biswas, Subodh Samadder, Sukhranjan Joydhar, Khagen Biswas and Akkas Sheikh told the Dhaka Tribune that Nur Islam Sheikh is wealthy businessman and an influential person, who hails from Tungipara upazila. 

Nur bought some land from Biren Biswas of Tarur Bazar area three years ago. However, there are allegations that he grabbed land belonging to 53 families in the area since then.

He also built a wall, which reportedly blocked off the homes of eight families for the past two years.

‘Threatened with false cases’

One of the members of a confined family, Shahjahan Bepari said: “My family, along with the families of seven others, is confined in their own homes for two years. We are being forced to use ladders to move around.

“Whenever we try to protest about this issue, we are threatened with false cases.”

Echoing the same statement, Alomoti Biswas said: “My son had a shop in Tarur Bazar, and he covered our expenses with income from that business. Nurul Islam Sheikh demolished the shop and took over the land. After losing the business, we have no option but to starve.”

These 61 families and businessmen are seeking the intervention of authorities concerned to get back the land that belongs to them. They also demanded exemplary punishment of Nur Islam Sheikh.

This ladder is the only way for these children to enter and exit their own homes | Manoj Saha/Dhaka Tribune

The Dhaka Tribune could not reach Nur Islam Sheikh for comments on the matter. 

However, his brother Rafikul Islam, who is also a local UP member, said: “The allegations against my brother Nur are completely false. We did not grab land illegally, my brother bought those land property legally.

“We erected wall on land owned by us. People are crossing over our wall using ladders, but we are not obstructing them in any way. We also have property near land owned by the Water Development Board.”

Discussing the issue, Kandi Union Chairman Uttam Baroi said: “I have heard allegations that Nur Islam Sheikh is grabbing land belonging to various local residents and the government. I have also heard that he erected a wall and blocking off eight families from the neighbourhood.

“I urge the higher administration to take action regarding these complaints.”

Meanwhile, Kotalipara Upazila Nirbahi Officer SM Mahfuzur Rahman said: “There are no laws that allow blocking off of entry and exit routes to people’s homes. I will investigate the matter, and take legal action against those responsible if necessary.”