For the past two weeks, local Hindu people at Dashpara village of Khuniyagachh union in Lalmonirhat Sadar upazila have refrained themselves from praying in a Kali Mandir (Kali temple) as a tobacco processing facility has been built on its premises.
Fearing harassment, they are not protesting against it as the facility is owned by Abu Bakar Siddique, a BNP leader and president of Khuniyagachh union’s ward no 3 unit.
Local Hindus say they offer prayers in the temple every day in the morning and evening but have been unable to do so for the last ten days because of the tobacco processing booth.
“We don’t dare to protest against Abu Bakar as he is an influential figure in the village,” they said.
The locals said Abu Bakar is a tobacco trader in the village and he was assisted by a tobacco firm to build the facility on the temple premises.
“He owns numerous land properties. Yet he built the facility there illegally,” they said.
Krishan Chandra Das, a resident of Dashpara village, said: “Seeing the tobacco processing facility on the temple premises, we are now very upset It is an obstacle to our daily prayers. Women and children can’t stay inside the temple for long as the facility produces a foul odour.”
Abu Bakar told the Dhaka Tribune that he built the facility on the temple premises as he had found the place suitable and that it had lain vacant for long.
“I told local Hindu leaders that I will be making donations during their religious programmes,” he said, adding that he would free up the space by this month following completion of tobacco leaf processing.
President of the temple Ananda Kumar Das said: “Before building the facility, Abu Bakar informed only one person of this and the person was me. I, however, didn’t respond positively.”
“We are in trouble but we can do nothing,” he added.
Contacted, field supervisor of the tobacco company Asadul Islam said: “The firm provides funds for farmers to build tobacco processing facilities but we never suggest any location. Regarding the facility built on the temple premises, we will look into it.”