National

Plea for help from across the border

Ershad seeks Mamata’s help to protect ancestral property in West Bengal

In an emotional letter to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in February, former Bangladesh President Hussain Muhammad Ershad claimed that his family’s ancestral property in Cooch Behar district (where two of his cousins and their families still live) is being encroached upon.

Gen. Ershad’s letter had asked for the CM’s help in stopping the illegal construction of a temple on an open field in the property, which is in Ward Number 6 of the district’s Dinhata subdivision. He had written that his relatives had filed a police complaint but felt helpless.

No reply

Ms. Banerjee did not reply, Gen. Ershad said in a recent phone call with The Hindu. “But I have a feeling that she has communicated the matter to the [local] authority, because no one is disturbing my family now. I think the work [on the temple] is also suspended.”

However, one of his nephews, Zakeria Hussain, said that they are still under threat. “Influential people of the area want to acquire the land, which is about 70 decimal [30,000 square feet]. These people are operating through a local boys’ club and earlier offered a small amount to vacate the land; we did not accept and are still receiving indirect threats.” Mr. Hussain, an advocate, alleged that the intention of the club members was to develop a residential complex. A police complaint has been lodged, but the Superintendent of Police, Cooch Behar, refused to comment. Members of the club could not be reached.

Seventy years after he left it, the former President is still attached to his birthplace and visits his relatives almost every year. He also meets representatives of civil society and political parties. He wrote to Ms. Banerjee after his last visit.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 3:32:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/plea-for-help-from-across-the-border/article19166523.ece

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