Landowners who had leased their lands to Bangladesh cricketer Shakib Al Hasan's crab hatchery in Satkhira now are in trouble because they are neither getting payments nor their lands back while the farm remains closed since last year.
In 2016, the world number one ODI all-rounder set up the 50 bigha crab hatchery named "Shakib Al Hasan Agro Farm Limited" on leased land in Shyamnagar, a coastal upazila of the district.
Shakib and his business partners, Imdadul Haque and Sahagir Hossain Pavel, leased per bigha land for Tk12,000 from 12 local landowners. The land agreement expired on 31 December 2020.
Saiful Islam, whose father Abdul Majid was one of those to lease to Shakib, said the sign bearing Shakib's name has been removed from the crab hatchery and the farm is now closed.
"The land contract expired six months ago. My father gave 5.5 bighas of land to the project. But they are not paying Tk19,000 in dues," he added.
"Even after expiry of the contract, they are neither making any new contract nor returning the land," he complained.
Surat Ali Gazi, had leased 17 decimals of land to Shakib's project. He said, "The farm still owes Tk65,000 to me."
Another lessor named Abul Basar said, "We gave the land to Shakib as he is a world-class personality. We have talked with the local chairman about the non-payments of our dues. But he has not done anything yet. We have fallen into uncertainty."
All landowners leasing to the hatchery have made similar allegations against cricketer Shakib and his business partners.
Samsuddin Ghazi said, "Shakib is a famous cricketer and we respect him. I think he has no shortage of money.
"We demand a solution to the problem. We do not want to go to the administration as his image will be hurt."
When contacted, Bhabatosh Kumar Mandal, chairman of the Burigoalini union parishad, said, "I have talked with the two business partners of Shakib. They told me that they would resolve the matter as quickly as possible."
"I cannot say whether Shakib is now involved with the project. I do not want to make any complaints against Shakib as he is an asset of our country," he added.
Earlier, Shakib's farm workers had staged protests demanding arrears. Later, workers were paid their dues quickly at Shakib's instruction. Hatchery infrastructure is still there but there is no activity now, the chairman said.
When asked, Shakib's business partner Imdadul Haque said the farm now remains closed. Shakib is aware of everything. The issues will be solved.
Pavel, the other business partner, said the project has been rented out to a party from Chattogram.
When contacted on phone on Saturday, Shakib told The Business Standard the landowners will be compensated if the government's stimulus money is available.
"We have suffered losses. Work orders amounting to Tk5 crore were cancelled amid the pandemic. We will settle the dues of the affected landowners if we get a stimulus loan from the government," he said.