Thirty-seven marginal farmers of Pabna district have secured bail in loan default cases with the financial support from the country’s leading business conglomerate Bashundhara Group.
Bashundhara Group has provided the financial support for the farmers to move bail petitions and appoint lawyers following the “harassment” of the crop producers.
Senior Judicial Magistrate Mohammad Shamsuzzaman passed the bail order on Sunday.
Advocates Saidur Rahman Sumon, Kazi Sazzad Ikbal Liton, Moinul Islam Mohon, Toufik Imam Khan, Mir Rakib Alam Rijon and Khandker Mahbub Ahmed Riton moved bail petitions.
Defence lawyers said police arrested 12 farmers, out of 37 accused, on Thursday and Friday on charges of defaulting on loan payments.
Later, the arrested farmers were sent to jail. To avert police arrest, 25 others went into hiding, they added.
Bangladesh Samabaya Bank provided the farmers of Ishwardi Upazila of Pabna district with loans of Tk 25,000 to Tk 40,000 in 2016.
The affected farmers and their counsel claimed that most of the loans were paid, but field-level officials have misappropriated the money.
“We have documents and payment slips, but the money has been embezzled by the field-level officials concerned of the bank. As a result, we have become victims of harassment,” many a farmer said.
Central President of Bangladesh Farmers Development Society Siddiqur Rahman said on the court premises that police arrested 12 people from their houses and other places following warrants issued by the court while the rest went into hiding in fear of police arrest.
Siddiqur Rahman, a recipient of Bangabandhu National Agriculture Award in 2010, said the arrest of the people who wake up early morning and work to produce food for the countrymen is not acceptable.
The harassment case filed against them should be withdrawn immediately.
The affected farmers expressed gratitude to the print and electronic media for covering reports on their harassment in the motivated case. They thanked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Bashundhara Group.
Idris Ali Biswas, an adviser of Shuvasangha, a social organisation of Bashundhara Group’s Bengali daily Kaler Kantho, said after receiving the news of farmer harassment, the largest industrial conglomerate of the country has stood by the farmers, extending legal and financial supports for bail.
Plaintiff Syed Mozammel Haque Mahmud said the case was filed on the higher authorities’ orders as the farmers did not repay the loans.