At a time when countrymen are passing a distressing time due to the nationwide shutdown following the coronavirus outbreak, and are looking to their lawmakers and local administration for relief and support, many MPs are not seen in their constituencies.
However, one lawmaker from Sylhet -- Mahmud Us Samad Chowdhury, parliamentarian for Sylhet-3 constituency -- has been an exception.
He has set an example by staying beside the people in this crucial time.
Sylhet-3 consists of three upazilas -- Fenchuganj, Balaganj and Dakshin Surma.
Since March 22, days before the nationwide shutdown came into effect, Mahmud Us Samad Chowdhury has been in his locality -- Fenchuganj upazila -- till today.
During this time, he not only took part in the government's relief distribution activities, but also has been funding aid distribution on his own, visiting every remote village to ensure that people are getting relief, advising the administration on monitoring health situation at the hospitals, and most importantly, he has been responding to anyone's call.
Today, he initiated a free market in Fenchuganj upazila bazar, from where women from disadvantaged families can get vegetables, fish, oil and salt free of cost. He is also involved in the activities of the local unit of Bangladesh Chhatra League to conduct the market activities.
"During the 1970 cyclone, I was a 10th grade student, and was on a scout team to Noakhali for relief work. That was the very beginning and since then, I participated in relief work during almost every disaster. This is just an addition to the list, as well as my duty to the people," Mahmud Us Samad Chowdhury told The Daily Star.
"We are fortunate to have our MP beside us at this time. Not only he is providing government relief, but he is supporting the poor on his own. That is very generous and people are really blessed," said Abdul Bari, a resident of Fenchuganj upazila.
"Since the shutdown began, he has visited many villages with relief and has assured us to send support soon. It feels good to see an MP that dedicated to the people," said Joydip Goshwami of Dakshin Surma upazila.
MP Samad has also opened a window for the families of expatriates, who are in distress in different countries, and more than 100 such families have been provided with a month's grocery.
"For the relief work, I am including people from different walks of life like barbers, drivers, nomads, tea workers and others who are jobless now. And my aid will continue until the situation improves," the lawmaker said.
So far, relief worth more than Tk 35 lakh has been distributed to the people from the MP's personal fund, he told The Daily Star.
"My family members are in Dhaka, but I am not going there at this time to ensure everyone's safety. Even while working with the people, I am trying to maintain social distance. The parliament session is supposed to begin soon, and I may not be able to attend, as it is more important to be here with the people at this time," he said.
Mahmud Us Samad Chowdhury was elected as a parliamentarian first in 2008 general election and then again in 2014 and 2019 polls from the Awami League.