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Fear of retaliation forces opposition men to be on the run

Iqbal Mahmud . Nilphamari

Hundreds of families in Nilphamari, particularly women and children are passing days amid uncertainties and insecurity as the opposition men have been on the run to escape torture by ruling party activists and possible arrests.
During spot visits to several unions in Nilphamari Sadar, New Age found many families passing their days in fear in the absence of the earning male members.
Panic grips the villages particularly at night, said villagers.
This has been the picture since  December 14, when opposition elements attacked a motorcade of Awami League leader Asaduzzaman Noor, MP, at Ramganj, on his way back to the town following a visit to the families of minorities affected in attacks earlier.
At least five people were killed in the ensuing clashes between the activists of the ruling and the opposition parties.
A case was filed against 1,500 villagers and 14 were named as accused.
The police began arresting opposition men as well as common villagers  indiscriminately in Lakshmichap, Polash Bari and Tupamari unions, alleged villagers.
The situation became extremely frightful at Lakshmichap union’s Dubachori, Dolapara, Borogacha, Vhendipara, Beltoli villages, Tupamari union’s Sukhdhon village, Polash Bari’s Torunipara village, and Ramganja Bazar area, said locals.
It’s over a month since hundreds of male villagers in the areas went into hiding leaving children and women in dire straits.
‘The police are arresting people regardless of age. Even the Imam of Dubachori mosque Abdul Momen was arrested on the charge of violence of December 14.
Since then prayers in the village mosque became irregular, said Biren Chandra Roy, a villager from Dubachori.
Sedeka Nasin Taskia, a student of class X at Dubachori Madrassah, said that the madrassah’s education has almost come to a halt as most of the teachers were either arrested or had fled.
Fozila Begum from Sukhdhon village under Tupamari union said that the villagers felt insecurity and uncertainties as police often raid the villages saying they were looking for the ‘accused’.
To make things worse ruling AL activists  often enter houses ‘and threaten us to be ready for grave future unless the male members surrendered,’ said Fozila.
Since the recovery of the bodies of slain  BNP activists, Golam Rabbani af Dubachori and Atikur Rahman from  Sukhdhon, most other families became more worried. 
Ruling party activists forcibly shut down most of the shops and businesses owned by opposition men.
‘As my husband is on the run, my brother from another district came to open our shop at Ramganj Bazaar, but AL activists beat him up before forcibly shutting down the shop, said Ameena Begum.
‘At night, all the female members leave their houses and gather in a single house,’ she said.
‘The miscreants looted valuables from our houses,’ she said.
Nilphamari municipal unit BNP president Jahurul Haque said that since December 14 night no opposition men could stay home.
However, Lakshmichap union Awami League president Shamchoron Roy brushed aside the allegation of attack and harassment,’ and said ‘they are accused, they must surrender.’
Superintendent of police in the district Zobayedur Rahman denied the allegation the police were harassing the opposition men but admitted that the police were only raiding the houses of people specifically charged for violence.
He claimed the situation was gradually getting normal and under control. He also said that the police would continue the drive to arrest accused.
When asked Awami League district unit general secretary Mamtazul Haque said that BNP and Jamaat men had started clashes for which they must be brought book.

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