A Supreme Court Justice has urged everyone to come forward and protect Bangladesh from the powerful ‘mafia syndicates’ which are destroying the environment. Appellate Division’s Justice AHM Shamsuddin Choudhury made the call on Saturday at a seminar in Dhaka. Terming land and river encroachers as ‘mafia’, he said these people ‘still have impunity’. Choudhury during his tenure in High Court had issued several rulings on clearing rivers of encroachers and environmental crises. He said, “It is unfortunate that there are people in Bangladesh and India, who are least interested in the interest of the people. They are only interested in their own benefits. They only look for their own benefits.” “They don’t care whether the river or the forest should exist or not. All they want is to grab rivers, lands, forest and the hills.” Unfortunately Bangladesh does not have enough forest trees and hills as it should, he said. Choudhury said, “I grew up knowing Bangladesh is a riverine country. I regret I cannot say this anymore. Bangladesh is no longer a riverine country because of the greed of some people.” He quoted Mahatma Gandhi in this regard. “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.” “People’s greed has increased to such a level that, whenever I leave town, my heart bleeds when I see that rivers have been grabbed by land grabbers, hills have been demolished to the ground. They (grabbers) don’t have any humanity.” He, however, praised the organisations and lawyers who have come forward to protect the environment. They have realised the devastation the land grabbers are actually causing, he said, adding, “We should not forget that they (grabbers) are very powerful people. They can be termed as mafia. Their financial wealth is so enormous that they can do many things.” “So those learned advocates and conscious people of our society who have litigated them to protect environment have risked themselves.” The Appellate Division Justice on Saturday congratulated police for their efforts in the abduction case of Abu Bakar Siddique, the husband of environmental lawyer Syeda Rizwana Hasan. He also hoped the law enforcers would trace those responsible for the abduction and bring them to book. AHM Shamsuddin Choudhury urged the members of the civil society, the bar and conscious people to help strengthen the government efforts against the mafia lobbyist in the country. “So that, people and our future generation can live in peace,” he added. Speaker of the Parliament Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury was the chief guest at the seminar organised by Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh. Indian lawyer MC Mehta, who is known for his continuous fights against pollution caused by industries, also attended the programme. He fought landmark cases on pollution of Taj Mahal and the Ganges.