BPDB engnr thrashed for preventing illegal power line installation

Map of NoakhaliProthom Alo illustration

An engineer of Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) has been brutally tortured and has his head shaved after he attempted to prevent installation of an illegal power line in Basurhat municipality of Companiganj upazila in Noakhali. 

He – Saiful Islam, deputy assistant engineer of BPDB’s Companiganj office – was tortured in two phases on Tuesday afternoon in the locality, allegedly by Shahdat Hossain, younger brother of road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader, and some other leaders of Jubo League and Swechhasebak League. 

After the assault, some BPDB officials rescued him and took to Feni for treatment. But he refused to get admitted to any hospital, fearing further humiliation. He preferred going home and taking medical care from there. 

Shahdat Hossain admitted that he slapped the engineer and was present in the scene when the official's head was shaved. He, however, claimed that the engineer demanded Tk 100,000 for installing two utility poles and received the thrashing in return. 

Shahdat also accused Saiful of committing various irregularities, including collecting money from the people after cutting off their power supply. 

In a conversation over the phone, Saiful Islam told Prothom Alo that the incident occurred when a contractor associated with BPDB’s Feni office went to install a Bapex power line in Companiganj on Tuesday morning. 

Instead of doing their designated job, they began installing an LT power transmission line in Ward No - 8 of Basurhat municipality, using two old poles from another place. 

Learning the issue, Saiful went to the place, stopped the installation work and asked the contractor to leave the place. 

Later, they resumed the installation work in the afternoon, prompting Saiful to go there and stop the work again. When Saiful asked them to talk to the BPDB resident engineer over the issue, ruling party leaders Khokon, Shipon and some others, who were involved with the installation process, engaged in an altercation with him, which eventually ended up in the torture.  

At one stage, Saiful Islam was taken to the residence of Shahdat Hossain to settle the issue. Instead of getting justice there, he received a second round of torture and had his head forcibly shaved in a room adjacent to the minister's residence. Shahdat also lent a hand in beating up the BPDB official.

Saiful Islam expressed his despair, saying, “Who can I turn to for justice? I briefed the department chief over the issue. But he didn’t even feel it necessary to make a phone call to me, despite my injuries. He only said he will look into the issue.” 

Asked about the incident, the executive engineer of Feni BPDB, ASM Rezaun Nabi, said he sent assistant engineer Faruk to rescue Saiful, after learning the incident. He also formed a three-member committee to look into the incident and asked them to report back within three working days. Besides, the high ups have been reported over the issue. 

Shipon Shahriar, former vice-president of the Swechhasebak League’s local municipality unit, claimed not to be involved in the assault on the engineer. However, he alleged that while installing the pole, the engineer demanded a bribe of Tk 100,000 and made derogatory comments about the minister's younger brother. 

Later, the local women surrounded him and took an attempt to lynch him. It was the minister’s brother who came forward and saved his life, he added. 

Officer-in-charge (OC) of Companiganj police station, Sadekur Rahman, said he heard about the incident, but was still unaware about the location. He was looking into the incident. 

However, the OC confirmed that no complaint was lodged at the police station over the incident.