Father Samson Marandy says he is fearing for his life since filing a murder charge against a former ruling Awami League MP over the murder of his brother. (Photo by Sumon Corraya/ucanews.com)
A Bangladeshi Catholic priest says he is living in fear after hearing of death threats against him since he filed a murder case against a former parliamentarian to seek justice for his brother who died in suspicious circumstances.
Father Samson Marandy, 64, an ethnic Santal from Dinajpur Diocese in northern Bangladesh, filed a murder case on April 9 against 13 people including Abul Kalam Azad, a former ruling Awami League MP from the Govindaganj constituency of Gaibandha district, over the death of his brother Ovidio Marandy five years ago.
A judge at a court in Gaibandha accepted the charge and fixed June 12 for the case’s first hearing.
Father Marandy told ucanews.com that he feels threatened amid a lack of security since he heard that thugs have been following him.
“I have not received direct threats, but my friends and local people warned me that I am being followed and I might be killed as I have filed a murder case to get justice for my brother, who was brutally killed,” said Father Marandy, parish priest of Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church in Dinajpur district.
He said he feels scared when in his parish or making pastoral visits.
On April 28, Father Marandy posted letters to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the inspector general of police and police chiefs in Gaibandha and Dinajpur districts to seek security.
“I have yet to receive the letter, and we will see what we need to do then,” Abdul Mannan Mian, police chief of Gaibandha district, told ucanews.com.
Father Anthony Sen, secretary of the Justice and Peace Commission in Dinajpur, said the Church would give full support to ensure justice for Ovidio Marandy and the protection of his family.
“Ovidio was a righteous man and he died because he stood for justice. There were immense political and financial dealings to pass off his killings as an accidental death and it was possible because he was from a minority community — indigenous Christian,” Father Sen told ucanews.com.
“The Church has been backing the bid for justice over Ovidio and the safety of his family members including Father Samson Marandy. If Prime Minister Hasina can put on trial and execute the killers of her father and family members after 40 years, she can surely intervene to ensure justice for Ovidio and his family.”
Former MP Azad was unreachable for comment as his phone was switched off.
At the time of his death, Ovidio Marandy, then 32, was assistant commissioner of land in Govindaganj of Gaibandha district.
Ovidio clashed with Azad by resisting illegal activities allegedly being committed by him and his men, especially land grabbing from poor indigenous people.
He was found dead and his motorbike partly damaged on a village road on Jan. 11, 2014. He was reportedly driving to his place of work after spending a weekend at his home in neighboring Naogaon district.
Local authorities declared his death a road accident and hastily buried his body. Six months later, a court ordered his body to be exhumed for a post-mortem examination. The subsequent report has not been made public yet.
Father Marandy earlier told ucanews.com that his family had attempted to register a murder case for years but failed as Azad exploited his immense political and financial clout to stop their efforts.