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Unstoppable and untouchable Bodi

  • Published at 09:23 pm October 12th, 2014
Unstoppable and untouchable Bodi

Many say he is unstoppable; he is hard to be moved from his stance even if he is wrong. Some poor people in his constituency even worship him because of the financial assistance they get from him.

He is ruling Awami League lawmaker Abdur Rahman Bodi who was sent to jail yesterday in a case filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission for earning huge illegal wealth between 2008 and 2013.

Not only possessing huge illegal wealth, many allegations are there against him in his constituency, Cox’s Bazar 4 that covers Teknaf and Ukhiya upazilas. Local people, especially the businessmen, claimed that they had been held hostages by the influential Awami League MP and his family.

Bodi joined politics in 1996 and tried to buy a ticket of the BNP for the controversial February 15 election. Failing to get one, he fought as an independent candidate but lost. He finally got nomination from the BNP for the June 12 election the same year but this time his nomination paper was cancelled.

Soon he joined the Awami League. In 2000 when the BNP-Jamaat government was in power, he was selected an administrator of Teknaf municipality. But he was removed for engaging in conflict with a top Jamaat-e-Islami leader of the area.

In 2003, he was elected the chairman of the municipality.

Bodi was arrested during the military-backed caretaker government.

He became a member of parliament for the first time in 2008 with Awami League ticket and then in the January 5 poll this year.

He had at least 23 cases filed against him at different times. All the charges against him, except for in two-three cases, were withdrawn by the Home Ministry’s committee that dealt with “politically motivated cases.”

He has no position in the local or central Awami League units.

Adil Uddin Chowdhury, president of Ukhiya unit Awami League, alleged that Bodi had been abusing power after becoming a lawmaker.

 “He does not maintain the rules and regulations of the party. He has grabbed the sea and river ports here, and faces allegations of smuggling and extortion,” Adil told the Dhaka Tribune.

The construction of 660-metre embankment at Shah Porir Dwip has been stalled since 2011 as the owner of its contractor firm Development International refused to pay the MP the amount he had demanded.

No one knows when the project would be completed for which the people of 10 villages on the island are facing troubles as tidal water submerges the villages.

The owner, Atiqul Islam, told the Dhaka Tribune: “After getting the work from the Water Development Board three years ago, I recruited workers to construct the embankment. But the people of MP Bodi threatened me to stop the work as I denied to pay them any toll.

“When I met the MP personally, he told me that no one will be able to work in his constituency without paying him a percentage of the estimated project cost.”

Atiqul said he had formally complained to the Home Ministry, the district’s deputy commissioner and the WDB. “But no one took any step against the MP.”

During a visit to Teknaf and Ukhiya, this reporter also learnt that after becoming an MP, Bodi and his four brothers – Abdul Amin, Moulovi Mojid, Abdus Sukkur and Mohammad Shafiq – started controlling all the businesses in the areas.

Amin and Sukkur are listed as top Yaba traders and criminals by the Home Ministry. Amin’s men allegedly collect Tk50 as toll from each ticket price the passengers pay to travel to the Saint Martin’s Island from Teknaf on the lone ship, operated by a private firm.

The two other brothers too are allegedly involved in Yaba peddling.

MP Bodi has also established unauthorised Kayuk Khali port to import smuggled goods. It is renowned as “MP’s port” locally. This port is controlled by Bodi’s brothers-in-law Gias Uddin and Syed Alam.

According to intelligence sources, this port is used mainly to smuggle Yaba, alcohol and fruits.

The Awami League MP also faces allegations of torturing many people including government officials and teachers of his constituency.

Only 23 days after the 2008 election, he had tortured Gias Uddin, who served as presiding officer in Teknaf upazila election held that year. The other victims are forest official Mujibur Rahman and teachers of Teknaf Primary School Abdul Jalil and Pulin Deb.

The victims confirmed the incidents to the Dhaka Tribune.

An arrogant Bodi also publicly assaulted former assistant commissioner (land) of Cox’s Bazar Abdur Rahman, Executive Engineer of Roads and Highways Division Abdul Hakim, former Ukhiya UNO Golamur Rahman and Shyamlapur High School Headmaster Monjur Alam between 2011 and 2013.

Over these incidents, the only case filed by Abdur Rahman is still pending.

One month ago, this reporter talked to Bodi over the phone to meet with him physically. He did not give any appointment.

Denying all the allegations brought against him, he then told the Dhaka Tribune: “Most of the goods [80%] imported from Myanmar are mine. So how can I take bribe from the businessmen? I am a businessman and my family members are also doing business since long.

“No one in my family is involved in any illegal business. Every year I pay huge amount of tax.”

He also denied capturing the Kayuk Khali Ghat. “Anyone can do business here. But the Myanmar businessmen are interested to do business only with influential or renowned businessman like me. That is why I am doing most of the businesses with Myanmar.”

Branding Headmaster Monjur as a criminal, the lawmaker said: “How can a teacher become the president of a local bazar committee? He owns that position only to take bribes from the businessmen.

“I never tortured anyone that you mentioned except for Monjur and the AC (land). I do not want to say anything more about the torture of Abdur Rahman since the case is pending with the High Court.”

Motivated philanthropy

Many local people, mostly the poor, of Teknaf are happy with their MP as he assists them financially whenever needed, said a locally-renowned rights activist who is also a family friend of the lawmaker.

“The poor are never disheartened when they go to the MP for any of help. There are instances that the MP provided a poor fisherman all the costs needed for the weeding of his daughter,” the person said wishing anonymity adding that Bodi later takes advantage from these people by engaging them  into the illegal businesses.

“But when the MP’s interest is involved, he never compromises. He has been self-centred like this since childhood.”