Villagers of Abhaynagar and Manirampur in Jessore are now passing their days in anxiety after attacks on the Hindus and cases being filed against them in the wake of protests at a tidal river management programme planned for Bil Kapalia without consulting them.
Tension brewed after the government had announced that it would continue with the programme.
Treasury bench whip Sheikh Abdul Wahab, also a lawmaker for the constituency, faced the wrath of the villagers on June 2 as the people though that he was behind the ‘anti-people’ programme.
On the day, several thousand people stopped and attacked his motorcade and set a number of vehicles on fire.
In the wake of the protests, the administration filed three cases against the people and ‘ruling party goons’ attacked the Hindu who raised their voice against the the river management project.
Villagers, especially of Kalishakul, Panchakari and adjacent areas, on Friday said they were passing their days panicked. Several business establishments at Panchakari of Manirampur and Tekarghat at Abhaynagar were found burnt.
The villagers narrated how they were attacked but declined to name the attackers, who continued threatening the villagers.
‘We have been attacked earlier for talking with the media. Will you protect us if we are attacked again?’ said an elderly man, a priest in a nearby temple.
The villagers said that a number of goons had attacked the minority communities after whip Wahab had faced people’s wrath.
Around 10 business establishments were either set on fire or vandalised by goons. The attackers were also looted goods from the business establishments, the villagers said.
Prahlad Mallik, 70, who was trying to rebuild his shop that was burnt, said, ‘I lost my only source of income although I was in no way involved in the anarchy. They came and burnt down my shop.’
‘How would I run my family of five? It is very difficult for me,’ Prahlad added.
Sanjay Karmakar, owner of Chhanda Jewellers at Panchakari, said that the goons had broken into his shop and looted ornaments worth an estimated Tk 7 lakh.
Dipali Mandal said that goons had damaged her television set that she kept in her tea stall.
The attackers either set on fire or vandalised the business establishments of Aditya Kumar, Paritosh Bairagi, Dilip Kumar, Shubhash Bairagi and Sukumar Mallik at Panchakari, the villagers said.
Policemen in riot gear started patrolling the area after the attack on the Hindus. Subinspector Hemayet Hossain said that 10 policemen were on patrol round-the-clock to head off any trouble.
People of Balidah, Panchakari, Manoharpur, Enayetpur, Nehalpur, Kalibari, Naldanga, Konakhola, Kumarghata, Kapalia and Kalishakul are against the river management project as they fear that the villages would go under water because of the project.
‘We do not want to live in areas under water. If the project gets going, we will not get the single crop we now get,’ said Karuna Sirkar of Kapalia. ‘We do not want the project.’
Whip Abdul Wahab told New Age that some angry activists of his party had attacked some business establishments at Panchakari in the wake of the attack on his motorcade. ‘I have asked my party men to stop such activities. If people need, they could be given compensation.’
Source: The New Age