POST TIME: 23 August, 2019 00:00 00 AM
2 BIWTA staff beaten up in Kishoreganj

2 BIWTA staff beaten up in Kishoreganj

Two Bangladesh inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) officials were allegedly beaten up by local criminals in front of the local upazila and union parishad (UP) chairmen with the aim of establishing supremacy over the sharing of dredge spoils in Kotiadi under Kishoreganj district yesterday (Thursday). The dredging of the Old Brahmaputra, which is part of the Prime Minister’s priority projects, has been taken up by the BIWTA. It plans to dredge the rivers Shitalakhya, Banar and Old Brahmaputra to expand the Demra–Ghorashal–Polash–Tok–Katiadi riverine route under the ‘12 important waterways dredging project’. The BIWTA officials went to the spot to identify the alignment for dredging the river Arial Kha at Lohajuri under Kotiadi upazila. All of a sudden, the followers of Kotiadi upazila hairman Dr Mustakur Rahman, led by Lohajuri UP chairman Ratan, started beating up the BIWTA staffers, including executive engineer Abdur Rob Mondal and assistant engineer Samir Chandra Paul, on the spot, BIWTA officials told The Independent yesterday (Thursday).

Both BIWTA officials have received treatment at Kotiadi upazila health complex, said Samir Paul, one of the victims. “We don’t understand why the local influential people have beaten up our staff. The BIWTA is responsible only for dredging the river. We merely dump the dredge spoils as instructed by the local administration,” Saidur Rahman, the BIWTA’s additional chief engineer (dredging), said. Shipping secretary Abdus Samad said legal action will be taken against the perpetrators.

“We have already instructed the local administrations to take legal action against the criminals involved. The local police will arrest the perpetrators immediately and bring them to trial,” he said in reply to a query.

BIWTA chairman Commodore M Mahbub-ul Islam said, “If people beat up BIWTA staffers and create obstacles to implement government tasks, it won’t be tolerated.” “It isn’t acceptable that locals will fight for their own interests and beat up the government officials in front of elected representatives. The deputy commissioner and police have been asked to take stern action against those involved,” the BIWTA chairman said.

Kotiadi upazila chairman Dr Mustakur Rahman admitted to this correspondent that he was present during the clash. But he denied that his followers were involved in assaulting the BIWTA officials.

When asked why he failed to calm his people, he replied, “It was just an accident. I’m not able to comment at this moment.” According to BIWTA officials, at least 10 km of the Arial Kha will be dredged at the Kotiadi end as part of the project. “Around 10 lakh cubic metres of silt will be removed from this river at a cost of Tk. 17 crore,” Saidur Rahman said.

The BIWTA officials were preparing to file a case with Kotiadi police station at the time of filing of the report at 4.45pm yesterday (Thursday) afternoon. On October 2 last year, the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) approved a Tk.-4,371-crore project on ‘Navigability development and reclamation of Old Brahmaputra, Dharla, Tulai and Punorbhoba Rivers’.