He will be sued under sedition charges, says Sarankhola UNO
Although the zamindari system was abolished many decades ago, an individual in Bagerhat has claimed to be the owner of large tracts of land in and around the Sundarbans and asked people there to pay him a land tax.
Locals said Abdus Samad Hawlader, a resident of Pisi Baroikhali in Morrelganj upazila of Bagerhat, declared himself the owner of all the lands in Satkhira, Bagerhat, Pirojpur, and Barguna districts.
These regions fell under the greater Khulna district many decades ago.
As per the Bengal Tenancy Act 1928 of the then provincial government, he announced himself the owner of the "Sundarbans Lord Permanent Tenancy Estate."
Following the claim, he established headquarters at his house in Pisi Baroikhali a few years ago and later set up an office as well, and put up a signboard reading"Sundarbans Lord Tenancy Estate" in Panch Rastar Mor of Sarankhola on August 24.
Samad also ran a campaign asking villagers to settle the land records in his favour which created confusion among them.
Ruhul Amin Hawlader of Rajapur village in Sarankhola, says Samad appointed several agents to serve his purpose and misappropriated a good sum of money from villagers, misleading them.
Awami League's Khontakata union (under Sarankhola) unit General Secretary Taju Sardar said: "Samad demanded Tk2,000 from me to be a member of his estate and asked me to pay the land tax to him from now on."
Abdur Rahim Bachchu, chairman of Nishanbaria union parishad under Morrelganj, said Samad's father was a fisherman and now his son has resorted to fraud, claiming to be a zamindar.
Asked, the so-called owner of "Sundarbans Lord Tenancy Estate" Samad said: "As per the documents of zamindari times and direction of court, I am the owner of the lands of this region. Everyone has to settle on lands from me afresh."
On Wednesday, Sarankhola Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Sardar Mostofa Shahin said that upon information they closed and padlocked the office of Samad and removed the signboard.
He said there is no zamindari system in Bangladesh anymore and now the government owns all the lands of the country.
Samad is denying Bangladesh law with the so-called ownership of "Sundarbans Lord Tenancy Estate," the UNO said.
Contacted on Friday, the UNO said: "We are now looking into the matter. A sedition case will be filed against him."