Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Another NGO disappears with Tk 18 lakh in Natore

Victims torch office, assault UP chairman

Thousands of victims of Probhati Grameen Unnayan Sangstha went on the rampage yesterday, assaulting a woman Union Parishad chairman and torching office and chief's house in Naldanga as the NGO disappeared with about Tk 18 crore.

The NGO officials went into hiding hours after being in the charge of Mahua Parvin Lipi, chairman of Biprobelgharia UP, at Monday night's meeting at the deputy commissioner's office, Natore.

A huge number of police, Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) and members of joint forces rushed to bring the situation under control. A contingent of armed police has been on hand as the furious members of the swindling NGO might explode anytime.

It could not be immediately estimated how much money the NGO swindled out of its members. Police suspect the NGO collected over Tk 150 crore from around 60,000 members in the last one year through about 1,000 branches in Natore and surrounding districts.

They said Probhati was the second largest swindling NGO after Freedom Unnayan Sangstha that vanished with Tk 250 crore on Thursday midnight.

Some 100 victims yesterday noon went to the Natore DC office to submit a memorandum demanding justice. But police intercepted them on the way and army also intervened to quell the agitating mob.

Earlier on Monday, participants of a meeting at the DC office demanded arrest of four Probhati officials -- president Azhar Ali and employees Ishaq, Joynal and Lalu -- who were also present.

But Lipi took charge of them assuring the meeting that they would not disappear, while the four also promised to return the money from next morning.

However, Probhati members went to the office at Nasratpur to find that the four had fled.

Infuriated, the members swooped on Lipi, wife of swindling Durjoy Bangla's adviser Shahin Alam, and clashed with police, who also baton-charged the mob to rescue her. She was committed to Natore General Hospital under police protection.

Police yesterday arrested four fleeing officials including Bazlur Rahman, Probhati adviser, and Lalu of two NGOs in Natore and Rajshahi.

People held Shariful, Fazlur Rahman, his son Asaduzzaman and Soab of Naba Jagoron in Satbaria in Puthia. Following a negotiation, the four agreed to return Tk 59 lakh of unpaid Tk 98 lakh to Natore members and were handed over to police after returning Tk 38 lakh in cash and cheque.

In another drive, locals caught Meher Ali of Target-20 and left him bound all day long in Chaukhali in Brammapur. Despite repeated calls, police did not rescue him.

A number of such NGOs in Puthia, Rajshahi however started returning members' money amid police vigilance, said Shilmaria UP Chairman Sajjad Hossain.

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