Veteran lawmaker Haji Salim and his son Erfan Salim are still panic names in greater Old Dhaka for their terror activities.
Haji Salim, an MP from Dhaka-7 constituency, and Erfan, councillor of ward-30 under Dhaka South City Corporation, have become millionaire through muscle power, land grabbing and illegal possession of dwelling houses and business establishments, locals say.Salim along with his cadres grabbed many valuable properties, mostly in old Dhaka. He has established a reign of terror in old Dhaka, many alleged.
Erfan is a director of Haji Salim’s Madina Group. Erfan’s father-in-law Ekramul Karim Chowdhury is also an MP.
The crime that landed Erfan in jail was nothing new for his associates who accompanied him on motorcycles.
People in the low-income bracket are often beaten up by cohorts of Erfan for obstructing their movement through the narrow lanes of Old Dhaka, local residents said.
A businessman said he saw the people with Erfan beating a milk vendor, an egg seller and a fruit trader on the street in front of Shahi Mosque around one and a half months ago for obstructing their path.
“Erfan didn’t take part in the assault directly, but he appeared drunk,” he said, adding that none could raise voice against their misdeeds.But, most of the people in old Dhaka have expressed a sigh of relief when they came to know that Erfan Selim was arrested on charges of assaulting a Navy officer.
After his arrest, locals began to open their mouths and bring various allegations against Haji Salim and his family members.
They alleged that they also grabbed land of several other locals in Old Dhaka area. Meanwhile, Agrani Bank reclaimed its possession of the land grabbed by Haji Salim.
The bank said Haji Salim grabbed around 20 decimal land of Agrani Bank, Moulvibazar in old part of Dhaka during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The state-owned bank reclaimed its possession of the land after Haji Salim's son Erfan Salim was arrested. The land of the state-owned Agrani Bank had been under its possession for 73 years.
The land located at Moulvibazar in old part of Dhaka has been grabbed by the lawmaker this year as the bank shifted its branch from a two-storey building to elsewhere.
Major (retd) Asaduzzaman, the head of Security of Agrani Bank, told the media on Monday that officials of the bank took possession of the land on Monday.
Erfan was taken to Dhaka Central Jail in Keraniganj early on Tuesday. He is in a quarantine cell as part of corona safety measures.
Drunk Erfan flanked by 10 bodyguards and two dogs allegedly used to make movement in the area at night.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Commissioner Shafiqul Islam on Tuesday said an investigation into the navy officer's assault case will be conducted without any biasness.
"No one can exert any influence here. He (Haji Salim's son) will be put on trial like other criminals," he said.
The DMP commissioner came up with the remarks at a programme on Tejgaon Police Station compound on Tuesday.
Earlier on Monday, an RAB mobile court sentenced Erfan and his bodyguard Zahid to one year in jail for illegally possessing walkie-talkies and liquor.
Detectives arrested another associate of Erfan from Tangail early on Tuesday in a case filed over the assault on Navy officer Lt Wasif Ahmed Khan. The arrestee was identified as AB Siddique.
With his arrest, all the accused named in the case, including Erfan, are now behind bars.
Meanwhile, students of Jagannath University (JnU) on Thursday took to the street and staged a demonstration against ‘grabbing’ of land and houses by Haji Salim. They want their dormitories back.
They also formed a human chain on the campus seeking their occupied dormitories back.
Some 12 dormitories are currently occupied by different factions, the students alleged, including lawmaker Haji Salim.
"Tibet Hall is currently occupied by Haji Salim, and a large shopping mall called Gulshanara City has been built on its land," said Mahmud Rasel Mishu, joint secretary of Chhatra Odhikar Parishad.