The Bangladesh Railway has halted a prescheduled eviction to reclaim its lands in Chattogram as the local member of the parliament intervened.
The railway authorities were scheduled to reclaim its 26 acres of land at Moti Jharna area in seven working days.
Beginning on December 2, the eviction drives were supposed to be completed by December 8. However, local MP Md Afsarul Ameen sent a letter to the director-general (West Zone) of railway authorities on November 23, asking for a halt.
Bangladesh Railway Chattogram Division estate officer Mahbub-ul-Karim said they did not cancel the drive. "Honouring the member of the parliament, it has been postponed; the higher authorities would decide the next move."
Upon receiving the MP's letter, the railway authorities wrote back to him. Railway Eastern Chief Estate Officer Ishrat Reza said that they had explained the real facts to the MP in their reply.
Ishrat claimed the Supreme Court had settled the ownership dispute over the land and gave an order in favour of the railway.
However, Afsarul said that he was yet to go through the railway letter as he had been in Dhaka. "Some residents of Moti Jharna came to me. They told me to take a step against the eviction as the land has a court stay. However, if the Supreme Court had settled the dispute, I have nothing to say about that."
According to the Bangladesh Railway, the occupied land has five eight-storied buildings, ten four-storied buildings and 32 two-storied buildings. All of these were illegally built, occupying the government land.
Scores of kancha, semi-pucca houses and some religious establishment have also been built.
Rootless people have been living on the railway land at Chattogram's Lalkhan Bazar for years. Allegations ran rife that an influential local quarter collects monthly rent from these residents. The administration had to fall back time and again in the wake of their protests.
However, Nasir Uddin Ahmed, director general of Railway East, said they would fix the next eviction date to reclaim the lands.