Sramik League leaders and activists have been accused of demolishing 11 shops adjacent to the municipal terminal in the bus stand area by defaming the name of Superintendent of Police Golam Azad Khan of Manikganj due to non-payment as per demand. District Labor League president Babul Sarkar’s nephew. The complaint has been made against Abdus Salam Nabu, the joint general secretary of the district branch of Bilas and Anusari Jatiya Sramik League.
Abdus Salam President Nabu District Bus, Minibus, Coach Road Transport Workers Union. However, he denied the allegations. Bilas and Nabu have claimed that the municipality has been asked to clear the traffic congestion around the central bus terminal and to remove illegally constructed shophouses to accommodate local vehicles.
On Wednesday around 11:00 a.m., after going to the spot and talking to the victims, it was learned that several shops have been temporarily built on the abandoned land of the demolished municipal hawkers market on the west side of the municipal bus terminal in the Manikganj bus stand area. Among them there are more rice hotels, tea shops, beer shops, Islamic bookstores and shoe shops. Some of these low-income traders have been in business for more than five to 10 years. Four days ago, 8 to 10 young men led by Nabu and Bilas demanded Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000 from traveling traders including Dipti, Khorsed, Manu, Mithu, Arif, Yusuf, Salim, Prabir Das, Surati, hotel owners of rice. But because the business conditions were not good, the traders could not pay the money and they threatened the police and demolished the shops of the floating traders themselves.
Arif, the victim, said, ‘The hawkers market here was evicted due to the widening of the highway. We had two shops in the market that was evacuated. I sat on the road as two shops were evacuated. Later, I set up a tea shop in the vacant space of the hawkers market and make a living somehow. But today Babul Sarkar people came and demolished my small shop. I can’t say how to run the family now.’
Another victim Khodeja Khatun said, ‘I have been selling rice here for eight years. No one said anything until now. On Wednesday morning, Nabu brought the transport workers and asked them to remove the shop, saying that they would keep passenger local vehicles. They threatened to demolish if they did not move themselves. Later, I moved the shop by shop.’
Victim Khorshed Ali said, ‘Last four days ago, Nabu came and demanded a fee of two to five thousand depending on the shop from traveling traders like us. Our shop is being demolished because we cannot pay that money. And the place where we are doing our shop was the hawker’s market place, not the municipal bus terminal land.’
Bilas told reporters, ‘I was at the scene yesterday (Tuesday) but was not present today. My uncle Babul Sarkar, President of the District Labor League, said that the orders of the Superintendent of Police should remove the temporary shops around the terminal to keep traffic free. There is no problem if the shop is broken. Come in the afternoon and talk to Babul Sarkar.’
Jatiya Sramik League Manikganj District Branch Joint General Secretary Abdus Salam Nabu came to the spot with 8 to 10 followers around 12 noon. When asked about the complaints of floating traders, he said, ‘I have not removed any shops. They are doing business by occupying terminal space illegally. I don’t want any money from anyone. If there is such a complaint then those whom I have asked should go to the police station with evidence and file a complaint against me.’
General Secretary of Municipal Awami League and President of Manikganj District Branch of Road Transport Owners Association regarding the complaint of demolishing shops without asking for subscription. Zahidul Islam Zahid said, ‘No one outside does business here, our local people do. We will take action against the accused if there is any evidence that Bhasman has asked for money from these traders.’
MA Irad Quraishi Emon, proprietor of Municipal Terminal’s lessee Quraishi Enterprises, said, ‘I heard that the floating shops have been removed to decongest the terminal area and accommodate local passenger vehicles. However, I do not support it if someone demands payment from the floating traders by threatening to move the shop. We have not been informed of any specific location for the municipal terminal.’
Babul Sarkar, President of Manikganj District Labor League, told reporters about the complaint, ‘The issue of demand for donation is completely false and fabricated. The temporary shops have been removed to keep the terminal entrance free of traffic.’ When asked about the move of the shop by changing the name of the Superintendent of Police, he evaded the issue without giving a direct answer.
Manikganj Superintendent of Police Mohammad Golam Azad Khan said, ‘Police were quickly sent to the spot after learning about the matter. Legal action will be taken against those who have defamed the name of the police.