The woman claimed that she made a deal of Tk15 lakh with the Gangni municipality Mayor Ashraful Islam, who told her that she would be given the job of additional tax collector
A pregnant woman and her mother went on a hunger strike for about three days, asking for the return of bribe money she reportedly paid to the Gangni municipality mayor of Meherpur for a job.
Moumita Khatun Poly and her mother were on the hunger strike from Tuesday to Friday evening in front of the Gangni Shahid Minar near the Upazila Parishad office.
Moumita claimed that she made a deal of Tk15 lakh with the Gangni municipality Mayor Ashraful Islam who told her that she would be given the job of additional tax collector of Gangni municipality.
However, Mayor Ashraful said the money was taken as Moumita's husband Mominul wanted to buy his land and the money was later given back when Mominul changed his decision. "When the job recruitment test took place I was not the mayor."
Moumita claimed that upon the instruction of Mayor Ashraful, she deposited Tk8 lakh and 10,000 to the mayor's wife's account in the Islami Bank and the rest of the Tk15 lakh were paid in cash.
"On May 19 of 2018, after the written and viva exams for the additional tax collector post took place, someone else was recruited, not me as promised. I went to the mayor's home and office several times asking for the money to be returned, but I got threats from him.”
"On August 20 (of 2020), I began my first hunger strike in front of Gangni Shahid Minar from afternoon to night so that the money is returned. I went back after Gangni police station officer-in-charge assured me that justice would be delivered."
Moumita on Wednesday said: "An arbitration took place after I went on strike for the first time. As there was no result I began the strike once again.”
"I am pregnant. My husband hates me because of the money. Now death is the only way out; If I and my unborn child die for this, our families have to receive our bodies," added Moumita.
Moumita claimed that she had to take loans from NGOs with high interest rates to bribe the mayor for the job.
MA Khalek, general secretary of Meherpur district unit Awami League also the chairman of Gangni upazila, said: "In the arbitration, Mayor Ashraful said that Poly's husband gave him the money for buying land and he later took it back after signing a paper.”
“On the other hand, Poly's husband Momin, over the phone, said he hasn't got back the money. Then the arbitrators decided that if Momin indeed put his signature on paper then Moumita wouldn't get back the money, and if not the mayor would have to give back Tk15 lakh,” Khalek continued.
On August 28, although Moumita's husband came to the police station (for the second meeting of the arbitrators), Mayor Ashraful was not present, therefore the meeting could not be held, Khalek added.
One of the councilors of the Gangni municipality alleged that a good number of councilors “know” that Mayor Ashraful took the bribe promising her the job.
Gangni police station Officer-in-Charge Md Obaidur Rahman said Moumita can seek the help of the court regarding the matter.
Gangni Upazila Nirbahi Officer Selim Shahnewaz said the incident was informed to the higher authorities.
Mayor Ashraful on Wednesday, told this correspondent: "I will give the money to Moumita right now if anyone can prove that I have taken money to give her the job. I took Tk8 lakh and 10,000 from Momin, working at my company, as he wanted to buy a land. But as he did not buy the land, I gave the money back long ago.”
"I don't know if Momin is her (Moumita) husband. I will file a case on Thursday at court over slander as my political opponent is trying to use this issue ahead of the municipal election."
The mayor filed a written complaint over the matter to court which is set to address it on Sunday.