THE Daily New Nation reports on fierce confrontation on Sunday over the ownership of Dhanmondi Playground between a business group and environmentalist campaigners as to whether it will remain a public property open to all for recreational purposes or become a vested corporate property in the hand of some city elite who want to turn it into a limited company. Question arises how a publicly owned play ground can become private property. Who has given that permission or whether or not there is any proper and valid permission at all to that end. There is a common perception that some persons close to the ruling party are misusing their power and position to take over the public property. The administration is not however making the matter clear to end the confusion and we ask the government to make its position clear to the nation. As we see the vested interest group is using their identity as sports organizers and have set up Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club Ltd (SJDCL) in 2009 taking permission from Bangabandhu Trust in this respect. They are now trying to justify the conversion of the playground to private property by using his name although experts hold the view that mere permission to use the name of a ruling family man to a project does not allow or justify its conversion to private property. It is legal matter. One has to buy the property to set up a private club or the government should donate the land. But mere changing of sign board is not enough; it is outright illegal and a clear land grabbing. But the club management has already raised high walls around the playground denying public entry to it using security guards. It is highly appalling particularly at a time when the club management is ignoring the High Court order which clearly said they have no authority to change the nature and character of the playground. Earlier young people used to play cricket and football in the ground and organize other entertainment programmes, now they have no permission. SJDCL functionaries say they want to convert it into a prestigious sports club like Liverpool Club or Manchester Club and plans have been drawn accordingly. But in fact it aims at minting private fortune for them destroying a public ground. But the citizens’ groups, on the other hand, comprising over 50 human rights and environmental bodies and civil society organizations said it is totally illegal and they demonstrated at the playground on Friday protesting the illegal occupation. But the club management immediately filed a case against them for trying to forcefully enter into the premises. At a press conference, they have moreover termed the campaigners like Prof Jamilur Reza Chowdhury, Prof Nazrul Islam or Engineer Mobashsher Hossain as fake and frauds. It may be mentioned that the Dhanmondi playground is part of the model residential area and its occupation by vested interest group is agitating local resident. The involvement of environmental campaigners moreover made the group hostile as they filed cases in the courts and secured verdict against them. In this background the abduction of Syeda Rizwana Hasan’s husband as she is an active campaigner against illegal occupation of public land at many places as the Chief Executive of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), is adding new dimensions to various speculations. It is worth mentioning here is that the principal of the Siddheswari Girls’ High School and her daughter was murdered at her Gulshan residence few years back as she had opposed commercial use of the school property at Baily Road by some managing committee directors. We are for maintaining the public character of the Dhanmondi playground and any attempt to grab it under the cover of ruling party support is not acceptable. It is a public property and if some people want to set up a sports club of their own, they can buy land anywhere and do it. But let the public property remain undisturbed.