The deceased’s son alleges that the MP and his brother had their father killed over a dispute over a fishing pond
A fisherman’s family is spending days in fear after filing a case against Sunamganj-1 MP Moazzem Hossain Ratan and his brother Dharmapasha upazila Chairman Mozammel Hossain Rokon.
The family alleges that on orders of the MP and his brother, opposition men killed their father Shyamacharan Barman, 65, by slitting his throat.
Although the MP was the main accused in the case, the police refused to record it. The police then filed a case against 60-65 unidentified in the incident of their father’s murder.
Later, the victim's son Chandan Barman filed a case in the court but the court stayed the proceedings of that case till they received the report of the case filed by the police.
In this situation, the family is wary about the proper investigation in the case.
Moazzem Hossain Ratan is the three-time MP for Sunamganj-1 constituency. On September 30, 2019, he was banned from going abroad by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on charges of being involved in a casino scandal in Dhaka.
The ACC is investigating allegations of illegal acquisition of wealth through irregularities and corruption against the MP.
Shyamacharan was a member of Sunai Fishermen's Cooperative Society Limited and a resident of Sunai Jalepara village. His son Chandan Barman is the president of the association.
Chandan alleged that on the evening of January 7, followers of Mozammel, the younger brother of local MP Moazzem and chairman of upazila parishad, attacked their storage shed (barn) next to Sunai Jalmahal (lake) with local weapons.
Opponents set fire to 15-20 maunds of nets and a barn. At that time, they beat up 15-20 people including members of the association and their family members.
At one stage, the attackers slit Shyamacharan’s throat and killed him.
Chandan Barman had lodged a written complaint with Dharmapasha police station accusing 63 people including MP Moazzem and his two brothers.
However, police did not accept the complaint for naming the MP as an accused. Later, SI Ariful Islam filed a case against 60-65 unidentified people.
Chandan alleged that the police case was an attempt to cover up the details of the real incident.
On January 14, Chandan filed a case in the court of Dharmapasha Senior Judicial Magistrate Misbah Uddin accusing 63 people including MP Moazzen and his two brothers.
Chandan's lawyer Ruhul Amin Bachchu said that the court judge had adjourned the case till the report of the police case arrived in court as there was another case in the same incident.
Now the victim's family says they are living in fear after being threatened by influential people.
What the police and the accused have to say
Dharmapasha police station OC Mohammad Delwar Hossain said the case is still under investigation. SI Ariful Islam filed a case accusing 60-65 unidentified persons.
The OC said police detained 23 people as suspects on the night of Shyamacharan's murder. Two were released for being minors and of the remaining 21, four have been shown arrested in a case filed by the police regarding Shyamacharan’s murder.
Police later arrested five more people in the murder case. All the nine arrested are known to be followers of Mozammel Hossain Rokonuddin, the MP's brother.
Sunamganj Superintendent of police Mizanur Rahman while talking to this reporter said the family had not lodged any complaint with the police about any threat or harassment.
He said the police had filed a case accusing unidentified persons in the murder. There is no chance of excluding anyone influential from the case.
Ferdousur Rahman, chairman of Paikurhati union in Dharmapasha upazila, said police are trying to identify the real culprits involved in the Shyamacharan murder. The UP chairman said he does not know anything about the plaintiff being in danger.
MP Moazzem Hossain told Dhaka Tribune: "I was not in the area that day. I was in Sunamganj district town, 60km away from the spot - many people know this. The upazila chairman was also not there. In any case, pointing a finger at anyone does not make him guilty.”
He said it was a fabricated story. This is being done as part of a conspiracy against him. MP Ratan said none of his close ones were involved in the Jalmahal business.
The MP said the incident took place due to a clash between two factions of the minority community.
In response to another question, he said that after the murder, the administration is taking care of the Jalmahal. He said a magistrate was also stationed there.
Chandan said the government leased the Jalmahal to Sunai Fishermen's Cooperative Society from 1422 Bangla year to the current 1427 Bangla year at a price of Tk2,424,661.
For the last four years, fishing was done at the Jalmahal by giving the MP and his chairman brother a cut of the income.
The association has paid TK2,610,000 as revenue and taxes during the current 1427 Bangla year.
Chandan alleges that the MP and his brother had his father killed due to dispute over the earnings and expenses of Jalmahal.
Security and livelihood crisis
Now, the family of the deceased is saying that they have been in danger and are unable to earn their livelihoods since the allegations were made against the MP.
"Even after killing my father by slitting his throat, they are not satisfied," said Chandan.
“We are not able to sleep at night with our families in fear of being attacked again. The accused have been threatening and intimidating us in various ways through different people.”
Since that incident, members of Sunai Fishermen's Cooperative Society and local fishermen have not been able to fish in Sunai Jalmahal, Chandan said.
He said there is an order of the High Court in this regard and the deputy commissioner said they can fish only after getting the order in hand.
Fishermen say they have borrowed money to pay revenue of the Jalmahal for six years. On one hand they are pressed for repaying that loan on the other they are unable to earn by fishing.
Due to this, about 130 families are in crisis for their livelihood.