Altu Miah points out his land within the boundary wall of MP Moazzem's 'Haor Bungalow' in Dharampasha upazila of Sunamganj
Altu Miah points out his land within the boundary wall of MP Moazzem's 'Haor Bungalow' in Dharampasha upazila of SunamganjKhalil Rahman

Moazzem Hossain Ratan contested in the national parliamentary election for the first time in 2008 from Sunamganj-1 constituency (Dharmapasha, Tahirpur, Jamalganj). He did not own any house at the time, except the ancestral tin-roofed house in his village. Now, however, owns three houses in his village, upazila and district, and a spacious apartment in the capital's upscale Gulshan area. He has also built a mansion on other people's land which he has illegally occupied. He calling this mansion 'Haor Bungalow'.

It is alleged that the ruling party MP also has a house in Canada and has laundered money abroad. The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is investigating these allegations. MP Moazzem was also summoned by the ACC regarding allegations of embezzling government funds, illegally laundering billions of taka and amassing property beyond his known sources of income, using his close relations with the influential persons including GK Shamim who was arrested during the anti-casino drive in 2019.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, MP Moazzem said, “Allegations can be made against anybody. The ACC will investigate. But the allegations against me are completely false and baseless. I have a clear account of my property and it has been included in my income tax file. I do not own any house abroad, nor have I laundered any money.

Mansion on illegally occupied land

The lawmaker now owns a mansion, 'Haor Bangla,' in his village Naodhar in Dharmapasha upazila. The land on which the building was constructed includes 62 decimals of land belonging to two persons of that area. This lawmaker has grabbed the land without paying them, simply constructing boundary walls around the land to include it in his property. Other than houses and flats, the MP has also multiplied his agricultural and non-agricultural land over the last 12 years. He has bought two cars. The village Naodhar of Paikurati union is along the road which runs from Dharmapasha upazila to Madhyanagar. The two-storey mansion is on the eastern side of the road.

locals said Moazzem Hossain built this house only after he became the MP of the area. This information is verified in the affidavit he submitted to the Election Commission before the polls. There was no mention of this house in the affidavit.

On one side of the huge gate of the building are the words, 'Haor Bangla, Engineer Moazzem Hossain MP. Established 2006'. However, the locals said Moazzem Hossain built this house only after he became the MP of the area. This information is verified in the affidavit he submitted to the Election Commission before the polls. There was no mention of this house in the affidavit.

Altu Mia of Gachtala village owns 32 decimals of land and Bikash Ranjan Sarker 30 decimals of land which now lies inside the boundary wall of the building.

The locals said Moazzem Hossain first built a tin-roofed house there. Moazzem Hossain wanted to buy eight decimals of land from Altu Mia in 2001 saying he would build a house there for one of his sisters. He promised to pay Tk 30,000 on the time of registration, but he did not pay the money. After becoming MP, he built the boundary wall around the remaining 24 decimals of land owned by Altu Mia.

Altu Mia told Prothom Alo, “When I came to understand that Moazzem Hossain did not want to buy the land, but to grab it, we held meetings several times in the area regarding the matter. However, there was no outcome. The MP’s people had completed the mutation process using forged deeds."

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Standing in front of the gate of that house, Altu Mia pointed out to this correspondent his land within the boundary wall. He said the registration number of his 32 decimal lands is 1749 in ledger no 518 of Paikurati mouza. He has another 17 decimals of land in front of the gate on the west side of the road with the same registration number. He pointed towards a tin-shed and said that Moazzem Hossain wanted to buy eight decimal lands from him to build that house.

Altu Mia said, “I have become a destitute in my attempts to get back my land. Everyone knows about this, but no one can help.”

Bikash Ranjan Sarker also has land inside the 'Haor Bangla' boundary. A banker by profession, Bikash Ranjan lives in Dharmapasha Sadar upazila. The registration number of his land occupied by the MP is 1751. He also registered a 2 acre and 65 decimals of land in the name of the two brothers of the MP. However, he did not get any money from them. He never raised his voice for the sake of his relationship with the MP.

Actually he (MP Moazzem) did not keep his word. There are many reasons why I cannot reveal everything. I was supposed to have got the land registered for them and get the money, but now he is not bothered about paying me. However, I will never register my lands without money
Bikash Ranjan Sarker

Bikash Ranjan Sarker said, “Actually he (MP Moazzem) did not keep his word. There are many reasons why I cannot reveal everything. I was supposed to have got the land registered for them and get the money, but now he is not bothered about paying me. However, I will never register my lands without money.”

When asked about this, MP Moazzem Hossain told Prothom Alo, “I am never involved in any wrongdoing. Bikash Ranjan is one of my own people. I have paid him the money for the land a long time ago. He even registered some lands in my name. Unfortunately, some of the lands are part of government khas land. He will definitely register the rest of the lands in my name once these problems are solved. This is completely a personal issue between us.”

Regarding Altu Mia’s land the MP said, “I do not know any ‘Altu-faltu’ (derogatory reference to Altu Mia) and do not want to talk about this.”

Standing in front of the gate of that house, Altu Mia pointed out to this correspondent his land his land within the boundary wall. He said the registration number of his 32 decimal lands is 1749 in ledger no 518 of Paikurati mouza. He has another 17 decimals of land in front of the gate on the west side of the road with the same registration number. He pointed towards a tin-shed and said that Moazzem Hossain wanted to buy eight decimal lands from him to build that house.

Altu Mia said, “I have become a destitute in my attempts to get back my land. Everyone knows about this, but no one can help.”

Bikash Ranjan Sarker also has land inside the 'Haor Bangla' boundary. A banker by profession, Bikash Ranjan lives in Dharmapasha Sadar upazila. The registration number of his land occupied by the MP is 1751. He also registered a 2 acre and 65 decimals of land in the name of the two brothers of the MP. However, he did not get any money from them. He never raised his voice for the sake of his relationship with the MP.

Bikash Ranjan Sarker said, “Actually he (MP Moazzem) did not keep his word. There are many reasons why I cannot reveal everything. I was supposed to have got the land registered for them and get the money, but now he is not bothered about paying me. However, I will never register my lands without money.”

When asked about this, MP Moazzem Hossain told Prothom Alo, “I am never involved in any wrongdoing. Bikash Ranjan is one of my own people. I have paid him the money for the land a long time ago. He even registered some lands in my name. Unfortunately, some of the lands are part of government khas land. He will definitely register the rest of the lands in my name once these problems are solved. This is completely a personal issue between us.”

Regarding Altu Mia’s land the MP said, “I do not know any ‘Altu-faltu’ (derogatory reference to Altu Mia) and do not want to talk about this.”

During the parliamentary election of 2008, MP Moazzem had 3.93 acres of agricultural and 1.15 acres of non-agricultural land. Ten years later, he submitted an account of his property to the election commission through affidavit again before the parliamentary election of 2018. According to his latest affidavit, he now has 523 acres of agricultural land and 8.26 acres of non-agricultural land.

All the property gained after he became MP

During the parliamentary election of 2008, MP Moazzem submitted his account of property to the election commission through affidavit. According to that, he did not have any house in his name. He had 3.93 acres of agricultural and 1.15 acres of non-agricultural land at that time.

Ten years later, he submitted an account of his property to the election commission through affidavit again before the parliamentary election of 2018. According to his latest affidavit, he now has 523 acres of agricultural land and 8.26 acres of non-agricultural land. His real estate includes two buildings and a tin-roofed house. Apart from this, he also has an apartment in the capital. Besides, he has a Toyota Land Cruiser and a Toyota sedan car.

Dharamapasha upazila Awami League joint general secretary Shameem Ahmed Murad and publicity secretary Jubayer Pasha, also a member of Sunamganj zilla parishad, said that everyone knows that the MP has occupied some land. However, no one could do anything in this regard.

Earlier, on 15 October last year upazila Awami League leader Shameem Ahmed referred to Moazzem Hossain as ‘the godfather of extortion’. The MP himself was present at the meeting.

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Murder and extortion in the wetlands

Sunamganj is replete with wetlands, swamps and water bodies. The district and upazila administration lease these out. Although the wetlands are leased in the name of the fishermen's cooperative association, Matsyajibi Samabay Samity, the local influential and political leaders control everything from behind the scenes.

The Sunai 'jalmahal' or wetland in Dharmapasha upazila in Sunamganj is one of the biggest ones in the district. The MP along with his younger brother Mozammel Hossain, also the chairman of upazila parishad and the president of upazila Jubo League, control this 'jalmahal'. There are allegations that the followers of MP Moazzem control most of the 'jalmahals' in his constituency.

On 7 January, fisherman Shyamacharan Barman was killed in Sunai river wetland. Another 15 to 20 people were injured in this incident. Later, Chandan Barman, the son of the deceased, lodged a complaint accusing MP Moazzem, his younger brother Mozammel and elder brother Mobarak Hossain alias Masud, the religious affair secretary of upazila Awami League. However, the police did not accept the case as the MP's name was there.

In this regard, MP Moazzem told Prothom Alo that he was not present in the scene on the day of the incident. A certain group is trying to involve him in the incident out of political vengeance.

A high official of Sunamganj police, on condition of anonymity, said investigations are on against MP Moazzem Hossain regarding the murder in Sanui jalmahal. Apart from that, the ACC is investigating his property following allegations of acquiring illegal assets beyond his known sources of income. The ACC has barred him from travelling abroad.

M Hafizuddin Khan, advisor to the former caretaker government and president of Sushashoner Jonno Nagorik (Shujan), told Prothom Alo that the job of a people's representative is to protect the interests of the people. But if a lawmaker does the opposite, then what can be said? He said, "This is happening because there is no process of electing members of parliament through fair elections. This MP knows that he does not have to go to the people for votes.”

This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ashish Basu

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