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Danida Official Kidnapping

5 NGO activists sent to jail after quizzing
Our Correspondent, Bandarban

Five persons including three executive directors and two employees of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) based NGOs were sent to jail yesterday after nine days of interrogation in connection with Danida official Hossain Shahid Sumon’s abduction from Thanchi under the district.They are Gabriel Tripura, executive director of TOYMU, Ang Khya Kheeng, executive director of Hope Bridge, Mong Mong Ching, executive director of Humanitarian Foundation and employees of the same organisation Sacheeb Chakma and Khemajon Tripura.

A first class magistrate sent them to jail while five others are still being quizzed by the Detective Branch (DB) men who are almost sure of the involvement of local NGOs in the abduction, said concerned government sources.

The ten NGO workers were accompanying Hossain Shahid Sumon and Kirti Nishan Chakma, another Danida official, on the day of Sumon’s abduction.

In 2004 Danida reached an agreement with six NGOs led by TOYMU over a three-year project that was aimed at encouraging the indigenous communities to form cooperatives for self-reliance, said a local NGO official on condition of anonymity.

At the end of the project, which was supposed to be over by June 30, 2007, differences emerged between the local NGOs and Danida officials working in CHT. On March 12 and 13, Danida officials conducted field level observation and visited the local NGO office when the team found serious irregularities. On May 14, Danida officials expressed their dissatisfaction in writing and added eight objections.

Due to the written objections against the works of the local NGOs from both the programme officer and audit department, possibility of renewing the contract dimmed. Dissatisfied with the situation, local NGOs allegedly staged the ‘abduction drama’, the NGO official added.

Local NGOs, however, denied the allegation.

Donnai Pru Nelly, executive director of Ananya Kalyan Sangstha said she does not know anything on such objections.

A quarter, trying to stop the activities of NGOs, is imposing such blames, she added.

Irregularities in partner NGO’s Eco Development, Hili Homes, Ananya Kalyan Sangstha (AKS), Humanitarian Foundation, Hope Bridge and Community Advancement Foundation were pictured in the objection letter sent on May 14, sources said.

Eight allegations including erasing of motorcycle ID number and irregularities in accounts and voucher were brought against the NGO’s.

There had been a probability for cancelling the project. But for reasons unknown the Danida authorities appointed Kirty Nisan replacing Shahid Sumon as programme officer of the project.

“A meeting between the partner NGOs and the newly appointed programme officer was supposed to be held at 7:00pm on June 25 at TOYMU office after the latter’s return from Thanchi,” said the executive director of AKS. Shahid Sumon was abducted before the scheduled meeting.

Ong Owai Ching, who was arrested on Monday night from Boro Modok in Thanchi, has given important information regarding the abduction, sources said.

Armed criminals abducted Hossain Shahid Sumon and his car driver Mohammad Hanif from Kyu Bu Ri Para in Thanchi on June 25.

The driver was rescued three days after while Sumon is still missing.

The security forces intensified vigil on other CHT-based NGO officials.

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