Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities (HRCBM)
Relief work for winter victims
Part II
A special Report on HRCBM Relief work at Panchagarh and Thakurgaon Districts,Bangladesh

Note: Thousands of people have died in South Asia due to severe cold weather: Bangladesh is one of the worst affected country in the region.
To save the lives of thousands, HRCBM has initiated relief effort starting with Northern district of Bangladesh.

Death Toll at Panchagarh and Thakurgaon Districts, Bangladesh: 62.

Help us continue our Relief work
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Santa Clara, CA 95056
PO BOX 117080
Carrollton, TX 75011-7080
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The Process: In addition to their first funding for "Serajganj and Pabna Winter Victim Relief work", members of HRCBM-DFW at Texas further extended their kind help to support relief work at Panchagarh and Thakurgaon Districts of Bangladesh. Due to the strong resolve of HRCBM-DFW members, it is now possible to distribute relief goods at the very remote places of Bangladesh where no help has been extended before. HRCBM is thankful to its HRCBM-DFW chapter members and Lily foundation for making it possible to touch thousands of lives. With continued support of HRCBM members and well wishers, it can be possible to extend our help to a number of districts of Bangladesh. Thanks to the volunteers and executive members of HRCBM-Dhaka for their untiring work at ground zero.

Staring the work through the hand of Ms. Purmia (a victim of brutal torture/gang rape and religious persecution): The relief work that was started at Serajganj, Bangladesh through the hand of Purnima Shil (a victim of brutal gang rape and religious persecution) got extended further due to the strong resolve of HRCBM mebers and direct support from HRCBM-DFW and Lily foundation. Let us here the story of relief work at Panchagarh and Takurgaon of Bangladesh from Advocate Rabindra Ghosh of HRCBM-Dhaka.
...."I, on behalf of Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities (HRCBM)  and ”Lily Foundation” along with our two volunteers namely : Dilip Kumar Das and Sawpan Kumar Das visited Thakugaon and Panchagar districts on receipt of information from various sources that a death toll rose to 62 in Panchagarh and Thakuggaon due to severe cold wave within 48 hours during last 25 days . Most of the victims were old men and children and some are still on the verge of death.

Before taking decision we discussed the matter at our Executive Committee meeting held on 27th January,2003 at Dhaka and took anonymous decision by the committee attended by.B.N.Chowdhury, Adv.Rabindra Ghosh, Adv.Jagadish Chancre  Sarkar, Prof.Ashoke Taru Saha, Mridul Talukder, Dilip Kumar Das, Sawpan Kumar Das and Ananta Babu. The members who have accompanied me and extendded untiring support at Thakurgaon and Panchagarh are Dilip Kumar Das and Sawpan Kumar Das.

We started for Thakurgaon by Bus “Hanif Enterprise” from Dhaka Gabtali Bus Stand on January 29th 2003 at about 9.00 a.m towards Thakurgaon 400 kilometers from Dhaka  with four bundle of winter clothes (300 pieces of blankets and 600 pieces of sweaters) . We reached Thakurgaon at about 5-30 p.m. and stayed in Hotel namely “Salam Enterprise” North Circular Road, Thakurgaon. We found Advocate Indra Nath Roy, Secretary of Puja Parishad and Hindu Boudha Christian Unity Council, Thakurgaon in the morning on 30th of January,03 and kept two bundle of sweaters out of four bundle at his house for distribution amongst the needy at Thakurgaon and he advised us to go to Panchagarh first to distribute two bundle of  relief goods through Advocate Akhil chandra Barman who is also a social worker at Panchagarh district. Accordingly we reached Panchagarh district at about 9.00 a.m. and met with Adv.Akhil Chandra Barman at his residence and kept all the bundle of sweaters and blankets at his residence for distribution in the remotest area. We came to know that in course of distribution of relief materials so many poor and needy people were injured due to scuffle and as such we contacted with the local administration and police and the Supdt.of Police,Panchagarh Mr.G.M.Mizanur Rahaman and Asstt.Supdt.of Police Mr.Md.Mozammel Hoque accorded us two Havilders and two police constables namely Havilder No.423 Golam Rasul, Hav/438 Fazlul Hoque, C/261 Abdul Hamid and C/106 Abdur Rahim, all of Panchagarh for smooth distribution of relief clothes to the needy victims.

Mr.Aftab Hasan,Deputy Commissioner was contacted at Panchagarh but he was not readily available at his office. We came to know that the victim are Shafiuddin (70) of Thuntunia village, Latfar Rahaman (65) of Mondalpara village, Lutfar  Rahman(70) of Rousawanpur village and an unknown mad at Tetulia Hospital under Tetulia aupazila of the district died due to severe cold.

Temperature of the Area and present position of the districts : The weather observatory center of Tetulia recorded 5 degree Celsius at 9 a.m. Thursday30th. This is the lowest temperature of this season But a non-governmental organization here said the mercury fell to 4.5 degree Celsius at Panchagarh on Thursday, 30. The sun is not visible and the sky remains overcast with deep fog and clouds. Heavy fog disrupted traffic movement in the district. Motor vehicles hardly ply due to dense fog in the district. Bus truck and motorbike are running with head light by daytime. The income of day laborers and rickshaw pullers has fallen sharply as they are confined themselves in their houses. The poor old man are passing days and nights in the houses and straws are being burnt to keep them warm. We saw old men – poor and destitute of the district who have no warm clothes are suffering from influenza, cold fever. Rota virus infection, diarrhea, dysentery and asthma following cold in the rural areas. The temperature is expected to continue till 15th of February,2003 as per report of weather Observatory Center of Tetulia.

Distribution Area:Baniapara  P.S. and Dist. Panchagarh:We distributed relief clothes to the victims mostly women about 105  within the locality Baniapara, Panchagargh and their thumb impression or signature have been obtained.

Chandpara Union, P.S. and Dist. Panchagarh: We distributed 223 winter affected victims at Chandpara Union 10 kilometers away from Panchagarh town. Most of them are old and  poor children.


It took 4 hours to distribute relief clothes to the victims as sufficient number of victims appeared at the place of distribution center at Chandpara. While we started to distribute clothing’s to the needy more than 500 victims came to the spot and police personnel are not in a position to control the situation, although the distribution at both the places were satisfactory. But we could not afford more winter clothes to the victims, as our stock was limited in number. We gave them consolation for further distribution in future.We thanked the Police administration for their full co-operation in distributing the relief goods to the needy in time. Some districts victims are more precarious than that of victims staying in other districts. We also distributed some relief clothes to them also at Panchagarh.

Return to Thakurgaon  District on 30th January,03:We came back to Thakugaon after distribution of relief materials to Panchagarh on the same night on 30th and stayed at Hotel and on the next day on 31st we started distributing relief warm clothing to the affected victims at Ashram Para, Thakurgaon at about 8-30 a.m. with the help of Adv..Indra Nath Roy and Narayan Chandra Das.

Distribution of relief at Chandipur UP at Thakurgaon : We went to Chandipur Union Parishad within Thakurgaon police station 13 kilometers away from Thakurgaon  P.S.. We found that thousand of victims were waiting for us for relief and as soon as we went to the spot, we have been given to understand that no relief operation was made by any other humanitarian organization till then and no relief winter clothes were given to them. We found that the inhabitants of those area are mostly “Adhibashis” and their livelihood is very hard. The inhabitants of those areas were passing their night with great anxiety and sorrows as some outsider settlers who came from Mymensingh are the disturbing element. As soon as we reached the area the people of the locality became enthusiastic and hopeful to get a blanket for their use.

We hired a Micro Bus for quick distribution of relief materials to the winter affected people of the district and also for equal distribution amongst the needy in time.During our visit to Rahimanpur Upazilla within the village Goalpara under Thakurgaon district 22 kilometers north from the town we found some old people suffering from severe cold . We gave them some blankets and sweaters for their use and asked us to stay for a while with them. We became astonished at their hospitality although they have got no means to feed us. Some of the victims described us that even the Member of Parliament of this area could not come to them at the time of distress, although the M.P. always seeks for vote only. We supplied 200 pieces of sweaters and 100 pieces of blankets to these needy persons in this area. Those poor victims could not expect such type of relief from us and on being disappointed they were forgetting any kind of help from any source. During winter season some rich people went up to Thakurgaon town, but they don’t want to go to the doors of the needy persons living interior villages of the locality and they are always deprived of any kind of help from any source. HRCBM and Lily Foundation is certainly feel fortunate that they could reach to the  poorest and needy people living in remotest villages of Rahimanpur Upazilla  irrespective of caste and creed with our limited resources. The requirement was so enormous and big in comparison with the stock of our relief goods available with us.One of the poorest victims namely Nabin Barman aged about 90 years burst into tears that he got one blanket from us and started to pray to “God” for our long life and prosperity. Apart from this we could not afford further relief goods to the thousands of need people who are also passing their days with influenza and cold and we assured them that next time we will try to mitigate their requirement. We did not see any relief team from the government machinery nor from any other NGO in this locality, but found some representative of dailies, weeklies and monthly news papers.

We came back from the affected places and stayed at the Hotel at night on 31st of January,03 and in the next morning on 1st of Feb,2003 we also distributed a little sweaters amongst the needy who came to our Hotel and we also kept 100 sweaters in the house of Advocate Indra Nath Roy, General Secretary of Hindu Boudda Christian Okkaya Parishad who requested us to keep some sweaters for needy persons who could not come at the time of our distribution ceremony on 30 and 31 January,2003. We boarded the Bus from Thakurgaon Bus Stand on 1st of February, 2003 and reached Dhaka at about 6-30 p.m. The whole distribution ceremony within two districts was satisfactory and local people and the police administration was helpful and no untoward incident took place at the time of distribution.

Picture: During the visits at Northern districts of Bangladesh, HRCBM volunteers observed the sign of violence against minorities.
The picture shows a destroyed Hindu home. - A special report in this regards would be available soon.

During our relief operation in different parts of the area in both the districts we came to know that some incidences of serious nature of communal persecution, repression, torture and forceful conversion upon the religious minority took place. In this connection I have already investigated and noted down the incidences from various sources and those will be submitted very soon in a separate investigative report.

Prepared and submitted to HRCBM-Central :


 Rabindra Ghosh,

President, HRCBM-Dhaka,
Dhaka, Bangladesh.                                                                   Dated: 2nd of Feb,2003 ...."


This report is prepared as photos and other information are received from ground zero. Henceforth, the report is subject to modification. Please watch out for the continuation of the Report.

HRCBM-Dhaka plans to initiate relief work at other districts of Bangladesh as soon we receive more fundings.