A limited company of powerful businessmen has asked different organisations not to arrange any sports events in the Dhanmondi Club playground in its bid to take over it without any legal authorisation of officials concerned.
The company, Lieutenant Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club, formerly known as Dhanmondi Club, has requested Bangladesh Cricket Board, Bangladesh Football Federation and Dhaka City Corporation not to set any dates for any sports events this season.
The club in a recent move has planned to build a mini stadium with exclusive sports facilities in the playground, which was ear marked as a common field in the city's master plan.
Meanwhile, a High Court (HC) division bench in an order yesterday imposed restriction on any kind of alteration to Dhanmondi playground by any organisations or private companies.
Dhanmondi Club was turned into a limited company and named after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's slain brother Sheikh Jamal on August 20 to turn it into an exclusive club only for the amusement of people from the elite class.
Club's president Manzur Kader in a letter to Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) dated October 21 said, “The management of the club has undertaken a massive playground development scheme.”
BCB Manager (grounds and facilities) Syed Abdul Baten said, “We are confused about the letter, as we don't know on what authority the letter was issued.”
Every year BCB usually arranges some cricket tournaments at the venue. “We will have to face big trouble in case we cannot use it,” said Baten.
Bangladesh Football Federation President Kazi Salahuddin said they asked for the venue for practice matches but the club officials informed them the ground was not fit for the purpose and that the club would begin development work.
Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) Mayor Sadeque Hossain Khoka said a limited company has no authority to write such letters.
When asked on what authority the club has written such letters club president Manzur Kader said they had just requested. He also said the club has the authority over the playground exactly the same way as the Dhanmondi Club had had it for 47 years.
When asked if they had any document of authorisation Kader said, “It does not require any documents.”
Replying to a question how Dhanmondi Club had occupied the playground illegally for five decades and rented it out for commercial purposes under the very nose of DCC, Khoka said, “I don't know about it.”
Barrister Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh, a lawmaker of the area, said the playground is a breathing space for the locals and said if locals approached him he would remain in favour of the open space.
Syed Siddiqur Rahman, a trustee member of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Memorial Trust and curator of the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum, could not say for sure whether the trust had given permission to the club to use the name of Sheikh Jamal.
Taposh said, “As far as I know the club has not obtained the trust's formal permission.”
Manzur Kader told The Daily Star earlier that they would build a beautiful mini stadium in the playground and the club would be formed in the pattern of Dhaka Club Ltd, Gulshan Club Ltd and Uttara Club Ltd.
The governing body of the limited company includes Bashundhara Group Chairman Ahmed Akbar Sobhan Shah Alam, Nitol Group Chairman Abdul Matlub Ahmed, Rupayan Group Chairman LA Mukul, son of Partex Group Chairman MA Hashem, Uttara Club president KMR Manzoor, Dhaka Club president Sadat Hossain Salim, said Kader.
The High Court bench comprised of Justice Syed Refaat Ahmed and Justice Moinul Islam Chowdhury yesterday imposed restriction on any kind of alteration to Dhanmondi playground by any organisations or authorities.
The High Court bench comprised of Justice Syed Refaat Ahmed and Justice Moinul Islam Chowdhury yesterday also issued an injunction particularly upon Lieutenant Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club against using the playground for any purpose other than as a playground as defined under the open space and wetland conservation act of 2000.
The court directed DCC to take necessary steps in preserving the playground and submit a report to the court within 20 days.
Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon (Bapa), an environmental group, and Institute of Architects Bangladesh (IAB) jointly filed a writ petition against commercial uses of the playground by Dhanmondi Club during BNP-Jaamat coalition rule.
Following the petition the High Court (HC) on April 24, 2004 directed DCC not to use Dhanmondi playground for any purposes other than sports.
Dr Kamal Hossain and Associates on behalf of Bapa and IAB filed the two fresh applications on December 10 in reference to the writ petition.
Bapa and IAB served a legal notice upon the DCC mayor on November 10 for having failed to comply with the HC order of 2004.