The name of former Awami League lawmaker Joynal Hazari, known as the godfather of Feni, still seems to strike terror in the hearts of common people in Feni.
Locals say he “ruled and controlled” the politics of Feni for long 23 years as the general secretary of the district Awami League unit. He became the “emperor” of his “kingdom” Feni soon after the Awami League came to power in 1996.
Joynal Hazari was elected a member of parliament from Feni on Awami League ticket in 1996.
Grassroots Awami League leaders and activists, who did not want to be named out of fear, told this correspondent that Joynal had formed a “steering committee” with members drawn from his close accomplices in 1993. The committee was later renamed “class committee.” Its members ruthlessly suppressed those who dared to stand in the way of its leader.
Slain Fulgazi upazila chairman Ekramul Haque Ekram was the second-in-command of the steering and class committees. The three other members of the committee are Arju, Shaju and Shakhawat.
According to police, there are at least 20 to 25 cases filed against each of them with different police stations in Feni.
“Anyone even uttering a single word against Joynal Hazari had to lose their life as he never hesitated to take any action to obliterate his opposition political party leaders,” said a resident of Feni.
Journalists, too, were not spared. UNB’s Feni district correspondent Tipu Sultan was one of the glaring examples of Joynal’s torture. Tipu is still suffering the brunt of his torment.
A local contractor said Joynal used to collect 20% toll from all business establishments and tender projects.
Residing in Shoilo Kuthir of Mastarpara area, Joynal Hazari is the son of Goni Hazari. He got involved in politics when he was a student at Feni College towards the end of 1960s. He was elected the general secretary of the district Awami League in 1982.
According to the police, around 44 cases – mostly for murder – have been filed against Joynal Hazari since the 1970s. He was first sent to jail in 1973 on charge of killing Chhatra Union leader Nasir.
Joynal Hazari was awarded life-term imprisonment in a case and seven years in another while three years in engineer Gias murder case.
On August 16, 2001, joint forces tried to arrest Joynal during the tenure of the army-backed caretaker government but he managed to flee the country. He stayed in Kolkata during the time, according to intelligence report.
The Awami League suspended Joynal Hazari from the party on May 3, 2005 for his statement against the party. The suspension order is still in place.
For his long stay out of the country Joynal Hazari lost control of his bastion in Feni and failed to enter the district even after his return to the country.