Leaders of Chittagong Awami League and its associate organisations at a rally yesterday demanded removal of the two magistrates who led the mobile court that allegedly dismantled “sculptures of three leaders” at Jahur Hawkers' Market in the port city on Wednesday.
The rally, held in front of the market, was organised by Jahur Hawkers' Market Traders' Association.
Khorshed Alam Sujan, vice president of Chittagong city unit AL, alleged that Chittagong City Corporation wanted to set up three shops in the area. So it “dismantled” the under-construction sculptures of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, former CCC mayor ABM Mohiuddin Chowdhury and late Awami League leader Jahur Ahmed Chowdhury, he alleged.
“The market is not owned by the CCC,” he claimed. “Why would the traders need permission to build a sculpture there? They were building the sculpture out of their love for Bangabandhu,” he said.
“We want them [the magistrates] to be stand released…,” he added.
Pointing to the CCC mayor, Sujan said a person is trying to build shops where the sculptures were being built. “The sculptures of the three leaders will be rebuilt there and we will volunteer…”
On the other hand, the magistrates said a flat slab was being built over a drain along with a wall beside it at the entrance of the market. And, there were “no under-construction sculptures” when they were conducting the drive, they added.
“They [traders] just wanted to grab the drain and its adjoining area. So they constructed the structures there,” said Special Magistrate Jahanara Ferdous, one of the magistrates who led the drive. “The mobile court dismantled those.”
Meanwhile, at the rally, Chittagong city unit Juba League convener Mohiuddin Bachchu and joint convener Farid Mahmud also demanded removal of the magistrates within 48 hours.
City unit BCL President Imran Ahmed Imu and General Secretary Nurul Azim Rony demanded that the mayor apologise for the incident. They also declared that they would hold a rally in the city today.
Earlier in the day, the hawkers' association submitted a memorandum to the prime minister through the Chittagong deputy commissioner, said Fazlul Amin, organising secretary of the association.
Contacted, Mayor AJM Nasir Uddin said, “It's absurd. We do not have any plan to construct shops on the spot.”
He said the market is run by the CCC. The traders were building a structure illegally over the drain without taking the corporation's permission. That was why the mobile court dismantled it. “And, no such sculpture was there during the drive,” said the mayor.
“If they were actually planning to build a sculpture of Bangabandhu, why would they want to build it over a drain? Why now? Why all of a sudden?”
Regarding the allegation of Khorshed Alam Sujan, vice president of Chittagong city unit AL, the mayor said, “I'm surprised at his involvement over the issue. He is not a trader or a member of the hawkers' association.”