Saturday, October 18, 2008

Scientist Professor Arun Basak of Rajshahi, a Victim of Harassment and Mental Torture

By Jahangir Alam Akash
A patriot and internationally renowned celebrated scientist Dr. Arun Kumar Basak is being subjected to harassment and mental torture, perpetrated by a government establishment. This makes it difficult for him to devote himself to study and research. He and the other members of his family are passing their days in a state of deep insecurity. Dr. Basak was honored with the highly prestigious Bangladesh Academy of Sciences Gold medal in 2006 for his outstanding contributions in the field of Physical Sciences.
Dr Arun Basak, a retired professor of Physics of the University of Rajshahi, has been subjected to cynical harassment and mental torture, inflicted by the Rajshahi Development Authority (RDA) in league with a powerful vested interest of the locality. Appealing against this overbearance , Mrs. Devika Basak, wife of Professor Basak has made a written prayer on 24 January of this year to the Honourable President of the Peoples’ Republic of Bangladesh.
Professor Basak bought an old dilapidated house in the Sagarpara area of the city for residential purposes and registered it in the name of his wife in 1985. He renovated the house with minor adjustments to settle there. The roofed staircase was reconstructed with no new house-construction or wall. The RDA served a show cause notice on Mrs Basak on 10 January, 1987, charging her with the offence of unauthorized house-building without a prior permission from their office. Mrs. Basak sent a reply to the notice on 15 January of that year. In it she explained that the staircase was built only with cooperation, counseling and goodwill of the neighbors. There was no objection from any of the neighbors. In reply to the notice, Mrs Basak also submitted that they did not have any prior knowledge that the renovation of a staircase matching an old house required a formal approval of the RDA, and hence she prayed for a formal sanction of the work which had been done in a good faith. In addition, she pledged that she would be obliged to pull down the reconstructed staircase if in the future that becomes a necessity in the interest of the RDA. In response to the submission of Mrs Devika Basak, the report observes, the Authorized Officer of RDA after a long silence of six years informed her in a letter of 29 October, 1993 that the charge leveled against her had been provisionally withdrawn, and in consequence of that the Basak family settled down in that house without any further trouble.
But, as stated in the aforesaid petition to the Honorable President, a new crisis developed for them in 2003, when an additional construction was started on the southern side of their house by their adjacent neighbor showing total disregard for the rules of house-building in an urban locality. This erection came within a mere 9 (nine) inch distance from the residential room of the very old house, that Professor Basak had bought for this wife and since been living in with his other members of his family, by the scheming neighbor Mr. I. Y. Ferdous. The overbearing Mr Ferdous left even no cornice gap at the roof-top. The mandatory restriction of a gap of at least 4 (four) feet from the boundary imposed by the RDA was blatantly flouted by Mr. Ferdous. Mrs Basak entreated with Mr. Ferdous to desist from the unlawful and heinous act. But Mr. Ferdous not only threw aside but also threatened highly respected Dr. Basak with a dire consequence in case the Basak family dared to interfere with the evil designs of Ferdous. The matter was brought to the notice of the local ward Commissioner, Mr. Abdul Hamid Sarkar Tekon. But he took no corrective measure even after his high promise to the Basak family. Once the said Ferdous had completed the construction of the second floor of his venture, some BNP leaders of the then ruling party intervened and endorsed a formal complain regarding the matter to the RDA authority.
The RDA authority, after serving two consecutive notices on both Ferdous and Devika Basak, started putting pressure on Dr. Basak to agree to a compromise with Ferdous even while he was executing uninterrupted his ulterior design. Scientist Basak told the investing team of the TFT that two buildings almost locked side by side and stops cross ventilation of air leading ultimately to the development of a hazardous level of radioactive radon gas naturally emanated from the concrete materials, which is one of the principal causes of lung-cancer. This house-related disturbance and thrust on him through the machinations of his recalcitrant neighbor are destroying his peace of mind and he can no longer adequately concentrate on his research works, he lamented.
The RDA authority constituted an inquiry committee formed with the ward commissioner (at present the acting Mayor of Rajshahi City Corporation) Mr. Reazun Nabi Dudu and the word commissioner Abdul Hamid Sarkar Tekon (who failed to stop Ferdous from his heinous designs at the beginning of the illegal construction) on 9 March, 2006 to look specifically into the matter. But the report of the committee has not yet seen the light of the day.
The RDA Charman, Mr. Tapan Chandra Mazumder, refused to talk on this issue stating that these are all matters of bygone days.

Jahangir Alam Akash
Journalist & Human Rights Activists
C-361 Seroil, Ghoramara-6100
Boalia, Rajshahi, Bangladesh
Cell : +8801720084944
E-mail :

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Jahangir Alam Akash Editor Euro Bangla