A local Awami League leader has allegedly grabbed 12 decimals of land of a church in Chandpai union of Mongla upazila in Bagerhat, according to church authorities.
The church's managing committee members alleged Awami League leader Mujibur Rahman alias Sundarnath and his associates grabbed 12 decimals land of the church on 2 October. They said the union parishad chairman asked him to leave the land, but he did not.
Church managing committee members alleged Mujibur, president of Awami League unit of Ward No 9, filed a case with a Bagerhat court against them.
Mujibur denied the allegation and said he inherited the land from his ancestors.
“Sundarnath unleashed a reign of terror in the locality. He sued at least 30 innocent people for harassment and grabbing their land over the last 10 years,” Ward No 9 unit AL general secretary Sadananda Biswas told Prothom Alo.
Kainmaree Fellowship Church priest Uttam Mandal said the church was established on 17 decimals of land contributed by Manullo Biswas in South Kainmaree village of Chandpai in 1919.
Later, the land of the church was expanded to 88 decimals after purchasing land from Anilesh Mandal and Suvashini Sardar, he said adding the record of the land was included in the latest government survey.
Church managing committee members said they submitted a written complaint to local MP (member of parliament) Habibun Nahar and union parishad chairman Molla Tariqul Islam. The MP asked the UP chairman to settle the matter.
They said UP chairman visited the spot and asked Sundarnath to leave the land.
Ignoring UP chairman’s order, Sundarnath sued priest Uttam Mandal and church managing committee former general secretary in a Bagerhat court.
When asked about filing a case with the police station, Uttam Mandal said, “We are the followers of Jesus Christ. It’s not our jobs to file cases. The public representatives and the administration can solve it.”
Villager Probir Mistri alleged Sundarnath and his associate Shyamal Mistri tried to grab his father’s land on 2 October.
“When we protested, they lynched my father Simsom Mistry who was injured critically. My father was admitted to Khulna Medical College first and later shifted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital for better treatment,” Probir said.
He said a case was filed with Mongla police station in connection with the incident.
AL leader Sadananda Biswas said Sundarnath sued even his son and daughter-in-law.
Sundarnath’s father freedom fighter Digbijoy Nath held a press conference against the crimes of his son on 12 August in 2012.
Denying the allegation, Sundarnath said, “The rival group made the allegation to taint my image in the society.”
“My ancestors contributed land for the church. Out of mistake, more land was recorded in favour of the church. I have filed the case for a correction,” Sundarnath argued. Chandpai UP chairman Molla Tariqul Islam said, “Sundarnath has tainted the image of the party. Organisational action would be taken against him after the parliamentary election.”
Mongla police station officer-in-charge Iqbal Bahar Chowdhury said, “We have not yet received any complaint from the church authorities. We’ll go for action if we received any allegation”.
*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Rabiul Islam.