A ruling party lawmaker's men have allegedly occupied 25 bighas of debottor (endowed) land of Radha Govinda and Durga Temple at Sohorapara in Godagari upazila of Rajshahi district.
Locals said the loyalists of lawmaker Omar Faruk Chowdhury, also general secretary of Rajshahi district Awami League, arbitrarily formed a committee in November making Omar Faruk's follower Sanjit Kumar Ghosh as its president to look after the temple and its properties.
On December 1, the self-styled temple-governing committee forced Anil Kumar Ghosh, the sebayet (custodian) of the temple, to leave the village and employed some 50 people to reap paddy from the land.
On completion of paddy harvest on December 5, the committee men announced their control over the land and the temple, witnesses and villagers said.
Temple committee president Sanjit acknowledged that they took control over the land at the lawmaker's directive that came after locals raised allegations of corruption against Anil.
“As Anil and his family did not take care of the temple, it turned almost into a cowshed. We, the villagers, were demanding recovery of the temple's properties from Anil's clutches over a long time and we did it when the MP gave consent,” said Sanjit.
Anil, a retired high school headmaster, has been enjoying the endowed properties for last 54 years since the government employed him as custodian of the temple in 1955.
Anil and his son Debashish Kumar Ghosh alleged that local police refused to record any case in this regard.
Md Zakirul Islam, officer-in-charge of Godagari Police Station, denied the allegation of refusal to record the case.
Debashish alleged that they rushed to the lawmaker when his men started reaping paddy from the field but the public representative seemed reluctant to listen.
When contacted, lawmaker Omar Faruk Chowdhury denied the allegation of his backing in taking control of the temple land.
“I don't know about taking control of the temple land and police's refusal to record case. But I am aware that locals have become angry at Anil as he is enjoying the temple land without running the place of worship satisfactorily. No villager supports him due to his corruption,” he said.
Asked if he thinks that the capture of the temple's properties was justified due to alleged corruption of Anil, the MP said, “There should be legal action against the acts of cutting away paddy and capturing the land as well as Anil's corruption.”