Shambhu does nothing without money

Mohiuddin and Mohammad Rafique, from Barguna | Update:

.When it comes to recruitments, nominations for the elections, allocation of tube wells and delivery of other government relief services (Test Relief and Food For Work), Dhirendra Debnath Shambhu is there.

The people's representative of Barguna district does everything for people, but only in exchange of money, allege his own party men.

Shambhu, who has been elected member of parliament (MP) for the fourth time from Barguna-1 constituency, is a former deputy minister and president of the district Awami League for past 25 years.

He is also accused of grabbing land, torturing people and even of nepotism.

Following his widespread bribes, the leaders of the Barguna district Awami League submitted 24 allegations to president of Awami League Sheikh Hasina last April.

The leaders earlier informed the central organising secretary of the party about the matter.

As they did not receive positive feedback from the party, they finally held a press conference on 3 September to disclose the activities of their MP. 

The AL leaders led by Shambhu’s three-decade co-worker and district AL general secretary Jahangir Kabir declared Shambhu persona non-grata at the press meet.

Shambhu’s bribery has become become the talk of thw town in the constituency.

District AL general secretary Jahangir Kabir told Prothom Alo that the MP runs politics by some ‘collection masters.’ “He does nothing without money.”

Upazila AL joint general secretary Arifur Rahman alias Maruf said district AL’s religion affairs secretary Maulana Altaf Hossain and organising secretary Moniruzzaman alias Nosha work as ‘collection masters’ of the MP.

The duos collect bribes for allocation of government tube wells, recruitment in madrasas, and nominations in the local elections, he added.

But, when asked, Altaf Hossain and Moniruzzaman denied the allegations saying that they do not know anything about the MP’s financial transactions.

Arifur Rahman, who was defeated in the previous union parishad elections, told Prothom Alo that Altaf Hossain demanded money from him for nomination in the elections.

As he denied give him any money, he added, Altaf then used police force against him and worked for Jatiya Party’s candidate. 

In this way, the AL leaders added, Shambhu indirectly helped others defeat four of the AL candidates in the elections.

Barguna district Krishak League president and former UP chairman Md Azizul Haque said, “I paid money to the MP for  nomination in the Dhalua UP elections. He then demanded more money from me just before the election day. He then used the police to throw out my agents and helped the BNP candidate win the elections for more money.”

BNP’s Abu Hena Mostafa Kamal was elected as the UP chairman. Asked about the matter, he said, “I had contacted the MP, but it was due to my family relations. He helped me in the elections for this. There was financial transaction in other UP polls. This is not applicable for me.”

Gowrichanna union’s chairman who contested the elections as an independent candidate said every AL candidate had to pay money to the MP for nominations.

People familiar with the MP’s activities and party officials said the MP’s key financers are mayors of Barguna and Amtali. Barguna’s mayor Shahadat Hossain is known as ‘Shahadat Contractor’ in the locality. 

In 2011, AL’s candidate Gazi Shamsul Haque was defeated by the MP Shambhu’s blessed candidate Matiar Rahman alias Mati contractor in mayoral elections in Amtali municipality. 

Asked about the matter Shahadat Hossain said, “Who don’t take my money? I give half of financial support to the party.”

Recruitment business

The AL leaders came up with a whole range of allegations at the 3 September press conference. One among these is recruitment business.  They said that the MP took Tk 600,000 from each of the candidates for a post of night guard cum office assistant at a government primary school.

The leaders also claimed that the lawmaker had taken Tk 100,000 each for the recommending one for the post of police constable, for secondary school teacher Tk 700,000 to 800,000.

According to them, Dhirendra took Tk 140,000 for appointing a male teacher in the quota of a female teacher and he took Tk 500,000 to 700,000 for recruiting employees at the district hospital.

It has become compulsory to pay Shambhu one-third of the allocations for projects including Food for Work and TR (test relief).

The upazila Awami League general secretary, Arifur Rahman, said, “I had given the MP Tk 200,000 for my wife’s employment at Alia Madrasa. The MP gave the job to another for a bigger sum. He later returned my money.”

A certain Anwar Hossain said, “The school committee president of Garjangunia Secondary School, Humayun Kabir took Tk 130,000 from me promising me a job. He said he would give the money to the MP. Later, he took more money from another and gave him the job. He didn’t give my money back.”

The MP has earned a huge sum of money by doing business with employment and nomination, said Delwar Hossain, Barguna district council chairman, and upazila AL president at Amtali.

Government official beaten

Government officials have also been harassed by Shambhu. Several government officials on condition of anonymity said that Shamabhu himself called over phone and lobbied for certain , putting pressure on them.

He would complain to the higher officials if the concerned official would not listen to him in order to get him transferred, the officials further said.

In 2014, Shabhu assaulted Abdual Malek, the executive engineer of the Water Development Board at the district administration office over a Tk three billion World Bank project on dam construction and repairs. The engineer left Barguna that day.

“The MP thought I had received commission from the project but did not give him share. That’s why he did this,” Abdul Malek, the retired engineer told Prothom Alo.

Land grabbing

The embankment of the Bangladesh Water Development Board in Barguna is used as a road and both sides of the road belong to BWDB. Shambhu is running an office there for a long. Now he wants to buy the land by paying the government double.

The MP has filled a water body in front of the upazila council and raised a structure there. Locals know it as ‘Rangmahal’ where the lawmaker generally stays when he comes in Barguna.

Locals say that the whole course of filling the water body, constructing road, drainage and setting up lampposts are carried out by the municipality.

“The government acquired the land of Shambhu Babu’s mother. He took it back filing a plea to the government. The municipality only constructed the drainage and set up lampposts. The things inside are done by the MP,” said the municipality mayor and also a close associate of the MP, Shahadat Hossain.

Relatives in the committee

Dhirendra Debnath’s wife Madhabi Debnath is the district Awami League president and their only son is the science and technology secretary there.

His son’s father-in-law Amol Talukdar is the treasurer of the same committee while Amol’s brother Subal Talukdar is the publicity secretary. The Upazila AL president is also another Dhirendra relation, his brother-in-law Siddiqur Rahman.

The Barguna Awami League leaders and activists claim Dhirendra controls the organisation using these people.

Prothom Alo on 11 September tried to talk with the lawmaker regarding these issues. Shambhu said he could not talk before his meeting with the party general secretary scheduled for 14 September.

As the meeting was delayed, on 15 September, he was contacted again and he said, he had been asked to show cause by the general secretary. Shambhu said he did not want to talk to the media in this situation.

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