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Settlers attack Jumma village in Sajek after CHT Commission’s visit

News No. 138/2008, August 14, 2008

Hot on the heels of the CHT Commission’s visit to the area, the illegal settlers backed by a strong contingent of army personnel carried out an attack on the village of Gangaram Mukh in Sajek under Rangamati district on 9 August.

There are serious allegations that army and settlers have been resorting to vengeful actions against those Jummas who gave interview to the delegation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission who visited the three districts of Khagrachari, Rangamati and Bandarban from 7 – 10 August. The Commission visited Sajek on 8 August.

Speaking to the chtnews.com yesterday in South Khabangpujjya, Mukul Kumar Chakma s/o late Sukesh Shobhan Chakma of village Gangaram Mukh in Sajek alleged that on the night of 9 august a group of Bengali settlers backed by a group of army personnel from Baghaihat zone attacked their village and ransacked his house for giving an interview to the CHT Commission the day before.

Narrating the incident he said “Since the evening of 9 August Bengali people had been whispering among themselves (planning an attack). At 10 pm they started shouting in a chorus. Then at 11 pm we heard them calling out to each other. A few moments later I saw them coming across to our house with their torches on. I woke my wife Arati Chakma up from bed. My daughter woke up herself. I told them to take some necessary things. Thereafter, I tried to wake my son Kuchi Chakma (13). He was reluctant to get up, but I kicked him out of the bed. As we were putting our belongings in bags, the settlers gave a big shout and attacked our house. We jumped into the Kachalong River in fear and hid ourselves in the nearby jungle. From there we could hear the settlers telling (to the army personnel) ‘Sir, there is none in the house’. We also heard them breaking our belongings in the house. Our family was not alone. There were about 200/250 people of the village who fled their homes. We all stayed the whole night in the jungle without a wink of sleep. The settlers kept shouting the whole night.”

A farmer and a pastor, Mr. Chakma said they came back home the next morning after the settlers had gone. He continued: “The settlers ransacked the house of Buddho Dhan and the shop of Tungkala Chakma. They also ransacked the house of Hridoy Ranjan (65) and took him away. Later we came to know that he was beaten seriously. As a result he sustained injury in his head and in his right thigh, and his left arm paralysed. During the attack settlers caught some Jumma villagers who were not able to run away. After returning to the village, we came to know that the army also took part in the ransacking of our houses. They particularly searched for Pramika Chakma (a teacher of UNICEF-run Para Kendra or village centre) and asked the villagers ‘Where is Pramika?’ They were looking for her because she had given an interview to the CHT Commission.”

He said the villagers had collected Taka 400 and given it to him to come to Khagrachari to report the incident to the CHT Commission. “I came to Dighinala on foot, traversing jungle paths. That took me 6 hours from 10 am to 4 pm. From Dighinala I phoned Ms Sarah Hossain and told her what happened after the CHT Commission had left. She advised me to contact two Jumma Advocates — Gayana Chakma and Ashutosh Chakma. I contacted them accordingly and came to Khagrachari.”

Mr. Chakma said he went back to the village on 12 August. “I went up to Jora Bridge by bus and then walked home. It took me 4 hours. When I reached home, I came to know that the CO of Baghaihat zone was searching for me. I spent the night in fear, and after dawn I lost no time to come back to Khagracahri.”

He went on to say: “Now I am on the run. I never spent a single night out. If I have to keep on like this, I will join the party (UPDF). I will work for the people and for my land. (Ikko mui dhei dhei aagong. Mui kanadin ghara barey reit nah kadang. Idikkenguri thei paley mui Partyit sumim. Desh jadattei kam gurim.)

He said his family was running out of food. So were the other villagers. One kind-hearted person distributed 2 bags of rice to each of the affected families. “We got 8kgs. I grew one thousand orange saplings, but I could not sell them due to the tense situation.” he lamented.

Mr. Chakma said when the CHT Commission visited their village on 8 August the villagers gave it a warm reception. “We showed them the affected areas and five of us agreed to give interviews.”

The others who gave interview to the Commission included 1. Ms Pramita Chakma, 26, teacher of Unicef Para Kendra (Unicef-run village centre), 2. wife of Shuddhodhan Chakma, 3. Jiban Shanti Chakma of village Simana Para and 4. wife of Bilash Karbari or Gadabi’s mother.

Of them, Shuddhodhan’s wife (he could not remember her name) was beaten by the CO of Baghaihat zone, and as a result her right hand got fractured. Others have gone into hiding, fearing arrest and harassment, he said.

Choton Kanti Tonchongya from Bandarban said he had to go into hiding after his meeting with the CHT Commission on 10 August. “The army is searching for me” he told the chtnews.com. “An army officer asked Jolmoni Tonchongya about me and my whereabouts.”

He said the day before the CHT Commission’s visit to Bandarban, some people under the banner of Sacheton Chattra Samaj (Conscious Students Community) put up posters at different places in the town. The posters were about land grabbing and human rights violations in the CHT. “But the army blames me and UPDF for this. The Purbokone (a daily published form Chittagong) ran a lengthy news article about it on 13 August.” he said.
chtnews.com is an independent and voluntary online news service dedicated to projecting and analyzing the current events in the Chittagong Hill Tracts from the perspective of the Jumma people’s struggle for the right to self-determination. For further information please contact at: chtnewsonline@gmail.com

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