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Army searches UPDF president’s house in Khagrachari

Hill Watch Human Rights Forum
NEWS No. 44/2007, October 26, 2007

Army personnel have searched the family house of United People’s Democratic Front president Mr. Prasit Khisha at East Naranghia in Khagrachari town.

The search was conducted on the night of 24 October or at 1:30 a.m. on 25 October, to be more specific.

His family sources have confirmed the incident and said “the army commander knocked at the door at the dead of night and when we opened it he said he had information that Prasit Khisha had come home”. They continued: “we said he did not live here, but the army commander insisted that he would search the house”.

They army searched the rooms creating enormous discomfort for the inmates of the house and left after few minutes without finding Prasit Khisha, who is not known to have visited his home town since the last parliamentary elections in 2001 in which he was a candidate.

The army did not say why Mr. Khisha was being looked for.

The overnight search has naturally raised many eyebrows in Khagrachari. At no time since the caretaker government of Dr. Fakruddin Ahmed took office in January this year has it been known that he was either wanted by police or on the list of suspected corrupt politicians – his political antecedents are all too transparent to implicate him in any of the charges with which many bigwigs of the mainstream political parties are being framed. Therefore, the question being repeatedly asked by many is why the army has searched for him and why they choose the present time when voter listing is underway in the three districts of Chittagong Hill Tracts to search his family house, where he is supposed to be present to enlist his name as voter.

This question, in turn, logically leads one to ask a corollary question: is it to scare him away from being a voter so that he cannot contest in the next parliamentary elections which are scheduled to be held by December 2008?

In an environment where repression of UPDF and other Jumma activists are widespread and the problem of forcible land grabbing by illegal Bengali settlers with direct patronization of the army has become acute, there is well-grounded and justified fear that many eligible Jummas will not be able to make it to the new voters list. An atmosphere of fear and uncertainty is now prevailing in many places of Chittagong Hill Tracts.

There is no doubt that the appendages of the ultra-nationalist mainstream political parities in CHT will rejoice if Mr. Khisha is left out of the new voter list. He heads a well-disciplined political party which is spearheading the struggle for the right to self determination of the Jumma people and which is also reckoned as a formidable force in electoral politics in the CHT. In his 2001 elections debut the Party chief bagged a significant number of votes in both Khagrachari and Rangamati constituencies. The result surprised many analysts at the time who believed that the advent of UPDF had changed the configuration of the CHT politics forever.

Hill Watch Human Rights Forum provides accurate, objective and reliable information on human rights abuses in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. For further details contact: hwhrf_99@yahoo.com or hwhrf.cht@gmail.com

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