Vol. 4 Num 327 Fri. April 30, 2004  
Front Page

Trader seeks redress of JCD men's looting

A medicine shopkeeper in a letter to the president and general secretary of Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD) has sought redress of a looting of his shop by some JCD workers last week.

Mashiur Rahman Lytton, owner of Madina Pharmacy opposite the entrance of Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) emergency ward, also sent copies of the letter to BNP Secretary General Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan and Student Affairs Secretary Fazlul Haque Milon, and Dhaka University Journalists Association (Duja) last Monday.

He also accused some JCD leaders of threatening to blow up his shop if he didn't keep mum about the crime.

Lytton described how a group of JCD cadres from Shahidullah Hall of Dhaka University (DU) attacked and ransacked his pharmacy. The assault came when he asked two of them to pay for some medicine they had bought but were about to leave without paying.

He said JCD workers Sayeed, Roni, Roton, Dablu, Pappu and Razib were in the group that beat him up as well as DMCH Correspondent Shahin Mollah of The Daily Star and Baki Billah of the daily Sangbad, who were there on duty, with hockey sticks. They damaged medicines worth Tk 1,50,000 and looted the cash of his shop, he added.

The letter also mentioned that leaders of JCD Shahidullah Hall unit led by its President Jahangir threatened to blow up Lytton's pharmacy if he made any complaint to top JCD leaders against the ransacking.

To the leaders of BNP and its student wing, the smalltime trader placed demands of compensation and stern punishment of the JCD cadres including Jahangir, who, he alleged, were involved for a long time in extortion from the local shops.

But, JCD General Secretary Azizul Bari Helal told The Daily Star yesterday that he had not received any letter from the pharmacy owner. He said the DU unit leaders were in a better position to deal with the incident.

JCD Organising Secretary Shafiul Bari Babu, on the other hand, denied any involvement of president and general secretary of JCD Shahidullah Hall unit in the incidents.

One of the pharmacy owners of Chankhar Pool and the area around DMCH, adjacent to Shahidullah Hall, said JCD leaders of the hall make brazen phone calls to them asking money whenever they need it. "And, we have to comply with the demands or face the accompanying threats which we have no way to escape," another trader said.

The hall authorities on April 17 formed a five-member committee of house tutors headed by Senior House Tutor Dr M Mahbubur Rahman to investigate the attack on Madina Pharmacy.

Hall Provost Prof Abul Khair yesterday said he would receive the probe report on Tuesday. "There is a general meeting of house tutors on April 29, where we will discuss the issue," he said, adding they would take stern action against the students if found guilty.

Locals allege student leaders of the hall have been collecting tolls from the business establishments of those areas for years.

Presently JCD activists are accused of the crime, but, when in power, members of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) too had done their share in squeezing tolls out of the local businessmen, they added.

Depending on the size of the business house, each of the restaurants, pathological labs, pharmacies and other shops of the area has to pay a toll between Tk 500 and Tk 5,000 a month, they said.

A police official requesting anonymity said they knew of the extortion but interference of political bigwigs prevented them from taking action. The situation was the same when Awami League was in power and the BCL reigned supreme at the DU student dormitories, he added.

According to sources, police raided the hall a couple of days ago but could not arrest any of the JCD men responsible for the attack. But, hall sources said they were still staying in the dormitory.

The hall authorities, both past and present, also received complaints but could not do anything against the toll-takers because of interference from the ruling party leaders and high officials of the university, said a hall official on condition of anonymity.