Government records show no sand quarries in Dinajpur's Ghoraghat. But sand is being lifted illegally from at least 11 spots of the upazila.
The ruling party leaders, including the suspended Jubo League leaders Jahangir and Masud Rana, are involved in this.
Masud, who was recently released from Rapid Action Battalion custody, himself said this to this correspondent.
The local administration said they conducted several raids to stop illegal sand extraction and burned down dredger machines.
Ghoraghat Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Wahida Khanam, who suffered serious injuries in a midnight attack by miscreants recently, was vocal against the illegal sand lifting, the locals said.
Police recently released Ashraful Islam, the elder brother of main accused Asadul Islam, and cleaner Orsola Hembrom after interrogation. However, the land office's driver Eyasin Ali is still in police custody.
Dinajpur Deputy Commissioner Mahmudul Alam said UNO Wahida was on a four-day leave before the attack. She joined the office on August 31. "If theft was the main motive behind the attack, it could have happened during August 27-30."
CCTV footage showed that two people entered the UNO's residence for the first time at 1:18am. They went out once and returned.
They finally left at 4:41am. The footage showed no sign of them stealing anything. And nothing was stolen from the residence either.
All of these made the locals believe that the deadly attack on the UNO was not made with the intention of theft. And they also questioned the role of police members patrolling the area that night.
Amirul Islam, officer-in-charge of Ghoraghat police station said, "UNO Wahida Khanam conducted several drives against illegal sand lifting and fined the ones involved. But we are yet to investigate the issue."
He also said a team led by Shamsuzzaman, sub-inspector of Ghoraghat police station, was patrolling the area on the day the UNO came under attack. "They told me that they did not notice anything unusual."
Amirul also said, "We are informing the investigating officer of the case about every information that we are getting from interrogation."
Locals also claimed that both Jahangir and Asadul was involved with sand lifting, from 11 spots, from the beginning. Masud joined them later.
Many of them also alleged Abdur Rafe Khandaker, upazila chairman, is also involved with three of them.
However, denying the claim, Abdur Rafe said, "There is no sand quarry in Ghoraghat. I am not aware of sand lifting."
"I do not have any connection with Jahangir and none of the complaints against me is true. Everyone will know the truth once the injured UNO recovers," Abdur Rafe, also general secretary of Ghoraghat upazila Awami League, claimed.
Meanwhile, Ghoraghat Municipality Mayor Abdus Sattar Milon said, "I know about two sand lifting spots that are run by Jahangir and his associates. Many locals are also involved with them."
However, Jahangir could not be reached for comments till the filing of this report.
And Masud said there is no government-approved sand quarry in Ghoraghat.
"When the construction of a road began in Dinajpur, we extracted sand and sold it like many others. At first, there were four to five of us doing it, including Jubo League leader Jahangir. When there was a financial dispute, I stopped the work." he said.
Later, around 15-20 people got involved in sand lifting, including a few ruling party men and outsiders, Masud said.
About his connection with Abdur Rafe, Masud said, "He is the upazila chairman and I do politics at the union level. I often have to talk to him about party activities."
Masud also claimed that all the allegations against him are false.
Meanwhile, Mahmudul Alam said, "The law enforcement agencies are carrying out drives based on enough evidence. They raided every place of Ghoraghat where sand was being lifted illegally and burned down the dredger machines."
Local lawmaker Shibli Sadiq said, "I do not know the names, but many people are illegally extracting sand from the river."
Claiming that Jahangir and his associates attempted to attack him, Shibli said, "Police caught them before they could do it."
He also claimed that the Jubo League leaders falsely accused him of trying to shoot them.
Regarding the connection between the upazila chairman and Jahangir, Shibli said, "They may have a connection since they do politics of the same party. I do not know anything else."