Vol. 5 Num 591 Thu. January 26, 2006  

'Those who vote me also give me note'
Jaldhaka Jamaat MP refutes to term it extortion by party

"Those who vote me also give me note".
This frank and terse reply was given by Jamaat lawmaker from Jaldhaka Mizanur Rahman Chowdhury when newsmen asked him about alleged extortion by party men for its January 28 'showdown', planned apparently in a bid to disprove allegations of sheltering Islamist militants and boost morale of its rank and file.

"We do not take money from people outside the party", he told newsmen yesterday.

His party is now widely criticised by people in Jaldhaka after many of the militants caught here and in other areas in the country for exploding bombs and other acts of militancy admitted their links with Jamaat-e-Islami, a partner in the ruling coalition.

With the next election in view, Jamaat's January 28 programme includes a party workers' conference followed by a public meeting to be held at Jaldlaka High School ground.

Jamaat leader and Social Welfare Minister Ali Ahsan Mohammad Majahid will be the chief guest at the conference, to be attended by, among others, party central leaders ATM Azharu Islam and Golam Robbani.

To make the programme a success, allout campaigns through processions, roadside rallies and miking were started about seven days ago. Workers of Jamaat and its student front Islami Chhatra Shibur have launched drives to collect people including women and arrange funds for this.

'Contributions' have been fixed for each party man according to position. Each delegate will contribute Tk 20, sources said. Its activists have started extortion in most areas in Jalddaka upazila, particularly trading centres and markets as part of a fund-raising drive, locals alleged.

Madrasa teachers and employees of government and non-government organisations supporting Jamaat have been asked to contribute one months' salary, some sources claimed.

Already, about 20,000 invitation cards has been distributed. At least 25,000 packets of 'Biriani' will be supplied during the conference, party sources said.

Besides security arrangement by the district administration, about 5,000 party workers will be engaged as volunteers at the venue. Over 20 movie cameras will be engaged by the party.

Some merchants and traders in Jaldhaka seeking anonymity told this correspondent that they have to contribute for the programme. Declining to be named, one trader admitted giving Tk 5000 and a grocer said he also gave Tk 500.