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Military Atrocity on Permanent Bengali Residents in CHT

Military Atrocity on Permanent Bengali Residents in CHT

(14 June 2005)

On 14 June 2005 the army of Rangamati brigade led by Captain Ferdous harassed and tortured 18 leaders of CHT Permanent Bengali Welfare Council (Adi O Sthayee Bangali Kalyan Parishad) at the office of the 114 brigade signal company office of Rangamati brigade. Among them, 3 leaders were brutally tortured. Md. Azam Ali Azam, one of the tortured leaders, got admitted to Rangamati General Hospital with serious injury .

Captain Ferdous who is the G-3 of Rangamati army brigade and head of 114 brigade signal company and Field Investigation Operation (FIO) ordered the following 18 leaders of the permanent Bengali residents to meet him at his office at 10.00 a.m.

(1)    Yusuf Alam, President, Central Committee, Permanent Bengali Welfare Council (PBWC)

(2)    Farid Ahmed, President, Rangamati District Committee, PBWC

(3)    Mokhter Ahmed, Vice President, Rangamati District Committee, PBWC

(4)    Azam Ali Azam, General Secretary, Rangamati District Committee, PBWC

(5)    Mohammad Hanif, Organising Secretary, Rangamati District Committee, PBWC

(6)    Nur Hossain, Assistant Organising Secretary, Rangamati District Committee, PBWC

(7)    Md. Iyub, Assistant Organising Secretary, Rangamati District Committee, PBWC

(8)    Md. Mahbub, Social Welfare Secretary, Rangamati District Committee, PBWC

(9)    Khorshed Alam, Office Secretary, Rangamati District Committee, PBWC

(10)Yusuf Talukder, Cashier, Rangamati District Committee, PBWC

(11)Naurl Amin, Land and Law Secretary, Rangamati District Committee, PBWC

(12)Shukkur Talukder, Member, Rangamati District Committee, PBWC

(13)Md. Harun, Member, Rangamati District Committee, PBWC

(14)Md. Shamsu, Contractor, Reserve Bazar

The names of 4 leaders were not available. As per the order issued by the said Captain Ferdous, they went at the army signal office to meet him. They were kept in three separate rooms and called one by one for interrogation. The captain threatened them and ordered (a) not to work for Adi O Sthayee Bangali Kalyan Parishad (b) not to keep liaison and contact with Mr. Santu Larma, Chairman of the CHT Regional Council and President of the PCJSS (c) to leave Rangamati with family soon and (d) if fail to do so they would be killed at any time.

During the interrogation, the following were beaten by the army:

(1)    Farid Ahmed, President, Rangamati District Committee, PBWC

(2)    Azam Ali Azam, General Secretary, Rangamati District Committee, PBWC

(3)    Md. Shamsu, Contractor, Reserve Bazar.

It is mentionable that the Central Committee of PBWC called its committee meeting on 3 June 2005 in Rangamati. But, because of the army and police interference this meeting could not take place. The army and police took heinous steps against this meeting and ordered leaders of the PBWC in Rangamati, Khagrachari and Bandarban simultaneously not to hold this meeting. For instances:

On 2 June 2005 Yusuf Alam, Farid Ahmad and Jaker Hossain were called at the office of the 114 signal company office in Rangamati brigade by the said Captain. He ordered them not to work for PBWC and not to meet with Mr. Santu Larma, Chairman of the CHT Regional Council and President of the PCJSS. He also ordered them to join and work for CHT Equal Rights Movement (Sama Adhikar Andolon), a communal and army-back organization of the Bengali settlers. He also threatened them that army has the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and police forces. They can kill any body including them at any time by the RAB or police forces. So, they would kill leaders of the PBWC if they do not leave PBWC and abolish it. Captain Ferdous also threatened the leaders that they would face severe consequence if they disclosed it to Mr. Larma and leaders of the PCJSS.

On the same day, two leader of the PBWC in Khagrachari namely Gafur Ahmed Talukder and Abdur Rahman were caught at 4.00 p.m. by the police and kept at the custody of the Khagrachari police station till 10.00 p.m. The police also ordered them not to attend the meeting of the central committee in Rangamati. The police threatened them that they would face severe consequence if they participate in the meeting. Same threat and pressures were also made in Bandarban district against the following leaders of the PBWC. They were (1) Sadek Ali Munshi, convenor, Bandarban district committee, PBWC, (2) Toiub Ahmed Talukder, member secretary,  Bandarban district committee, PBWC, (3) Kazi Nasim, central committee member, PBWC, (4) Ahmmad Hosain Chowdhury, central committee member, PBWC, and (5) Mizanur Rahman Mizan, Joint secretary, Bandarban district committee, PBWC.

Due to tremendous pressure and threat, the leaders of the PBWC failed to hold their scheduled meeting. Nevertheless, the personnel of the FIO kept intensive vigilance on the leaders of the PBWC. Among them, Yusuf Alam was threatened by the FIO personnel that his children would be kidnapped and killed if he continued working for the PBWC. On the other, Jaker Hossain was also threatened that his relative including his son would be killed if he continued to working for the PBWC.

Protesting against the military interference and harassment, the PBWC undertook a programme to organize a protest meeting in Rangamati on 15 June 2005. Again, in order to obstruct the meeting, the army again called l8 above mentioned leaders of the PBWC on 14 June and issued above mentioned orders.

It is also notable that on the same day (14 June) at 7.00 p.m. the Equal Rights Movement (Sama Adhikar Andolon) held a meeting at its office of Laker’s Public School road, Kattaltali under Rangamati sadar where they decided to:

(a)    attack on the procession of permanent Bengali, if the PBWC organizes meeting;

(b)    make obstacles in organizing any meeting by the PBWC.

On 11 June the members of the Equal Rights Movement attacked on Global Village programme at Rangamati Municipal Hall while organizing Debate Competition from 9 June to11 June. They declared that no NGO run by Bengali would be allowed to work in CHT.

It is learnt that Mr. Azam Ali Azam, who is now in the hospital was further threatened by the army that he would be kidnapped if this incident is published on news papers.

Reasons behind the attack on leaders of PBWC:

There is a provision in the CHT Accord signed between the Government of Bangladesh and the PCJSS in 1997 that “Non-tribal Permanent Resident” shall mean a person who is not a tribal and who has lands of lawful entitlement in the hill districts and who generally lives in the hill districts at a specific address.

According to this provision, the old Bengali people are regarded as Permanent Resident as they have lands of lawful entitlement in the hill districts and have been living in CHT for centuries. But the Bengali settlers who were settled down in CHT since 1979 by the Government are not entitled to “Non-tribal Permanent Resident”.

With this backdrop, the old Bengali people who are regarded as Permanent Resident have been supporting CHT Accord. In contrary, the Bengali settlers who are not entitled as “Non-tribal Permanent Resident have been opposing CHT Accord since its sign in 1997. The old Bengali people formed PBWC soon after the signing of the CHT Accord and have been working for implementation of the Accord. On the contrary, last year the Bengali settlers led by Abdul Wadud Bhuiyan formed CHT Equal Rights Movement to oppose implementation of the CHT Accord and to implement the government’s ethnic cleansing policy.

Consequently, supporting to the implementation movement of the CHT Accord is one of the main reasons behind this attack upon the leaders of the PBWC by the army and government agencies.
Source: PCJSS

(Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti)



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