December 11, 2023
DHAKA – A representative of Zakir Hossain, state minister for primary education, has returned Tk 9.5 lakh allegedly taken in bribes from a man seeking to be a primary school teacher.
The job seeker is named Abu Sufian Biswas, and the “mediation” over his getting the money back took place at the Detective Branch office on Minto Road in Dhaka around 11:00am yesterday.
The issue came to light after police detained Sufian on December 7 on charges of misbehaving, yelling, and engaging in a brawl with the security guards at the state minister’s residence.
Sufian claimed that the minister’s secretary on Thursday asked him to go to the minister’s residence to get the money back.
He added that at least 48 job seekers met State Minister Zakir at his residence on June 8 last year. “We handed over Tk 94 lakh to the minister’s nephew Liton and driver Momin. But none of us got the job. When we asked for the money, the minister repeatedly assured us of the job, but nothing happened.”
Then in May this year, a written complaint was sent to the Prime Minister’s Office, which angered the minister, he said.
“Finally on Thursday, the minister’s secretary asked us to visit the minister’s residence, but the security guard beat us up when we went there,” he added.
Two other job aspirants — Nasir Howlader and Jahid Hasan — were also with him, he said.
“I do not know about the other people’s money. The [state minister’s] representatives had not said anything about it to me.”
Contacted, State Minister Zakir said, “My house is an open place. People from my area come to my house, stay, and have food.
“Additional drivers and armed guards stay in my house. They [job seekers] have talked with them [drivers, and guards].
“I saw that the media reported about Tk 94 lakh. But in reality, Tk 9.5 lakh was given to Liton and others.
“So, I asked the people whose names were mentioned in the media to return the money within 24 hours. I told them to return the money to the person it was taken from. I gave the responsibility of settling the issue to a young man from my area. Why would this issue come to me?”
He said that he asked them to return the money or face police action.
“I did not touch the money… but got defamed. They tarnished my reputation. This is the work of a syndicate.”
Contacted, Sufian, also a joint secretary general of Bangladesh Muktijoddha Sontan Sangsad, said, “The minister’s representatives handed over the money. The police currently have it for verification. They told me to collect it in a day or two.”
He added that he had provided a written statement, saying, “I have received the owed money.”
Harun Or Rashid, additional commissioner (DB) at Dhaka Metropolitan Police, told reporters that a settlement had been reached, adding, “I will give the details once I have all the information.”
Police sources said one of the two minister’s men present at the DB office is named Arif. Fazle Elahi, an additional deputy commissioner of DB’s Ramna division, was present there as well.
Elahi could not be reached for comment.
A high official of DB, requesting anonymity, said officers would return the money to Sufian after talking with other job seekers who also claim to have paid money for the job.