প্রকাশিত: ২০১৭-০৬-১৭ ২১:২৯:১৩
The Bengali settlers led by the local Awami League-Juba League perpetrated an organized attack involving arson and plundering the Jumma houses in Tintila of Longadu Upazila Sadar and in the adjacent Manikjorchara and Batya Para with active support of the army-police forces from 9:30 am to 2:00 pm on 2 June 2017. Around 250 houses were burnt to ashes during the arson attack. Of them, there were 94 houses and shops in Tintila of Longadu sadar, 88 houses in Manikjorchara and 42 houses in Batya Para. During the incident, one Guna Mala Chakma (75) died inside a burning house for not being able to flee and three innocent Jumma villagers were also subjected to beating of Bengali settlers.
During the attack, initially the Jumma villagers tried to resist the arson-attacking Bengali settlers. But they had to march back as the army went ahead of the Bengali settlers and threatened the Jummas with consequence of shooting. As the field became clear, the Bengali settlers went on looting and setting fire to houses and shops of the Jumma peoples with free hand. The witnesses have alleged that the army and police forces remained standing in silence and provided full security coverage to the perpetrators. The plunderers looted valuable goods and articles including cattle and other livestock while leaving the pigs dead. None of the 250 families of Tintila, Manikjorchara and Batya Para villages could save their family properties and could somehow manage to escape death with a single cloth only.
It is furthermore to be mentioned that the attack caused some 150 families of Tintila, 150 families from Manikjorchara, 120 families from Batya Para, 100 families from Sonai, 100 families from Atarakchara, 50 families from Jatramura and 50 families from Mahajan Para totaling one thousand families of 6,000 lives had to find their shelters in the nearby localities of Ronochara, Bamey Longadu, Rangapanichara, Bhuochara, Manikya Karbari Para, Dajor Para, Madhyachara, Godhabanyachara villages and nearby jungles.
It is worth mentioning that Longadu is a Upazila (sub-district) under Rangamati district of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). It is nearly 80 km from Rangamati district headquarters. Affected Tintila village is very close to Upazila headquarters. However, the other two affected villages Batya Para and Manikjorchara are two and three kilometers away respectively from Longadu headquarters.
Beginning of the Incident
The dead body of one Nurul Islam Nayon, a motor cycle driver run on hire for a living, was found at a place named Charmile along the roadside of Khagrachari-Dighinala Road at 12 noon on 1 June 2017. While the dead body was brought to Battali of Batya Para of Longadu Upazila from Khagrachari at quarter to 7:00 am on 2 June 2017, the Bengali settlers began to spread communal sentiment propagating that two Jumma people hired him and deliberately killed him. They went on calling the Bengali settlers with loudspeaker since the morning urging to participate in the procession with the dead body in protest of Nayon’s killing. Consequently, hundreds of Bengali settlers in buses and motorboats from Gadochara, Maini, Bogachadar and in and around Longadu sadar, gathered at Batya Para.
Afterwards, a belligerent communal procession led by ruling Awami League and Juba League set out from Batya Para of Longadu Upazila under guard of the army and police contingents at 9:30 am. While the communal and aggressive procession reached Tintila, the Jumma residential area of Longadu sadar around 10:00 am, the Bengali settlers in the procession began plundering and setting fire to houses and shops of the Jumma peoples and chasing the Jumma villagers at the same time.
Arson and Communal Attack
As the Bengali settlers’ procession came to Tintila of Longadu headquarters at around 10:00 am the Bengali settlers, without provocation of any form, began looting, vandalizing and setting fire to the houses and shops of the Jumma peoples including the PCJSS office and Multi-Purpose Community Center while attacking the Jumma villagers. At this, the Jumma peoples of Tintila village had to flee for life towards the Manikjorchara area. At least 94 houses including 10 shops got ablazed in this attack. The settlers, firstly looted the shops and houses and then began to set fire one after another pouring in petrol and kerosene. Even more, it was seen that some kind of gas cylinder/bottles were used to spray in the roofs to set fire. Consequently, the concrete walls of the shops and houses were seen burning in flames so speedily.
One Guno Mala Chakma (75) w/o late Rabichan Chakma died in burning as she was in the house of Kulin Mitra Chakma, Chairman of Longadu Union Parishad and also Headman of No.3 Longadu Mouza during the arson. She could not flee out of the house while fire was being set in. It was more pathetic to have learnt that the lady sustained fatal wounds at the hands of settlers before she died in the arson. on the other, Bengal settlers beat with sticks to three innocent villagers of Tintila namely chairman of Atarakchara Union Parishad Mangal Kanti Chakma, members of Juba Samiti of Longadu branch Amar Chakma (32) and Arunton Chakma (33) s/o Surjamoni Chakma.
The procession was followed by a public gathering of the settlers held at the Longadu Upazila ground. During this time, in one end, the meeting continued with anti-Jumma communal speeches while the houses and shops of the Jumma peoples in Tintila were being set in fire, on the other. Speakers contributing to the gathering, among others, were: leaders of Awami League, BNP, Jamat-E-Islam and Bengali settlers’ organizations, Longadu Upazila Chairman and Vice Chairman, Longadu Army Zone Commander and the Officer-in-Charge of Longadu police station.
Following this, the Bengali settlers went to attack Manikjorchara village. Initially, the Jumma villagers made resistance to the attackers. Consequently, the Bengali settlers had to march back and chasing and counter chasing in between the two groups continued for a while and till then the settlers could not set fire in the Jumma houses. In this circumstance, the army led by Subedar Major Md. Rofique advanced towards the Jumma villagers and aiming their weapons at them began to threatening of shooting at which the Jumma villagers marched back lifting up their resistance. Then, the Bengali settlers were free to perpetrate looting, vandalizing and setting fire to the houses pouring in petrol and kerosene leaving 88 houses including 5 shops completely burnt to ashes.
The District Administration promulgated Section 144 towards 12 noon. But having the Section 144 ignored, the settlers continued their looting and arson attack at Batya Para till 2:00 pm under protection of the army. At this, 42 houses including 4 shops were burnt to ashes and at certain phase, as the settlers came back from Batya Para, the adjacent village called Boradam was safe.
Role of the Army and Police Forces
When it came to knowledge that the Bengali settlers would organize a procession with the dead body, right one day before the communal attack that was on 1 June 2017, the local Jumma leaders and public representatives including General Secretary of PCJSS Longadu branch called on 2 EBR Longadu army zone and Longadu police station authorities in that evening and apprised the authorities of their apprehension of security and requested the authorities not to allow the settlers to hold procession with the dead body. In context of their apprehension and request, 2nd-in-Command (2IC) of Longadu zone Major Rafique and Subeder Major Mohammed Rafique came in person to the Jumma people at 9 pm that night and assured to the affect that ‘since organizing procession is a democratic right of the settlers; they will be allowed to stage the procession.
But there will be army and police with the procession all the time. No untoward incident will be allowed to happen. Hence, for the Jumma people there is nothing to be afraid of’ – was assurance of the authority. Just before this, Mominul Islam, the Officer-in-Charge of Longadu police station had also pronounced assurance on their part in the same tune. Even, Subader Major Md. Rafique came to the Jumma people in Tintila in the morning of 2 June 2017 and assured of security once again.
But despite all the time presence of army-police forces commanded by the Longadu Army Zone Commander Abdul Alim Chowdhury psc, 2IC Major Rafique and Officer-in-Charge of Longadu police station, the settlers began looting and torching the shops and houses of the Jumma peoples by pouring in petrol and kerosene on reaching Kattaltala of Tintila area under Longadu Sadar. The army and police personnel on duty were not seen preventing the Bengali settlers from looting and setting fire to the houses and shops of the Jumma peoples. In very few cases, the army and police though chased some of the settlers but did not arrest any of them. The Bengali settlers responsible for such crime were though under ring of the police-army force yet they were not arrested but set free. After having been chased, the Bengali settlers again came back to the scene and resumed plundering and setting fire in the houses nearby.
On the other side, if a group of army had not been led by the Zone Commander Lt. Col. Abdul Alim Chowdhury to Manikjorchara, the attacking Bengali settlers would not have been able to set fire to the houses and shops of the Jumma peoples there. The Jumma villagers resisted the attackers till arrival of the army. As the army aimed their arms at the Jumma peoples and threatened them of shooting, the Jumma villagers were compelled to lift up their resistance and fled away making an opportunity to the Bengali settlers to plunder the village and set fire in the shops and houses under army and police guard. Afterward, the Bengali settlers moved towards Batya Para and Boradam to continue the attack.
The army and police authorities continue to defend themselves by saying that it was not possible on their part to control thousands of mass people in the gathering and procession. But in practice, the army and police were not noticed taking any effective measure to disperse the settlers engaged in looting and setting fire. Even after promulgation of Section 144 at noon, the police and army were not seen making blank fire and firing tear shells. Instead, they were seen protecting the attacking party while intimidating and chasing the Jumma peoples. It is needless to re-introduce the Bengali settlers to be foster-children of the army. The settlers dare not to transgress any extent without consent of the army. There is strong allegation that Subeder Major Mohammad Rafique and Major Rafique of Longadu army zone had the leading role behind the organized crime.
Furthermore, it is to be noted that Longadu Zone Commander Lt. Col. Abdul Alim Chowdhury and Officer-in-Charge of Longadu police station Mominul Islam were also the speakers in addressing the protest gathering of the Bengali settlers led by the local ruling party leadership. While being in the service, for a government servant, issue of attending the public protest gathering and delivering speech may be considered as a direct violation of Service Rule. But it is the said officials of the security force and law enforcement agency who participated in and spoke to the communal gathering. This makes one conclude that they were also a party in favor of the attack.
Despite repeated assurance committed on part of the army zone and police station authorities and considering the incident of unabated attacks, looting and setting fire to the houses and shops of the Jumma peoples that too occurred in their very presence, it can safely be concluded that the Bengali settlers organized the procession with the dead body in association with the army, police and ruling party leadership with pre-plan to carry out communal attack involving looting, killing and setting fire in the shops and houses of the Jumma peoples.
It came to knowledge that a secret meeting was held in the Longadu police station premises at the initiative undertaken by the army zone commander at night on 2 June 2017. In the meeting, a plan was chalked out as to how the incident would be explained and upon who the responsibility for the incident would be imposed, etc.
It came to knowledge that a case under Penal Code Section 143/ 147/ 148/ 447/ 448/ 427/ 436/ 186/ 353 was filed by Sub-Inspector Dulal Hossain of Longadu police station against 15 persons by name and 300 unknown persons on 2 June 2017. It was learnt that the police arrested 7 persons enlisted in the complain. However, the arrestees were identified to have belonged to BNP and other political parties. However, the main perpetrators of looting and arson politically belong to the ruling Awami League and Juba League remain out of reach of the law enforcing agency.
Participation of All National Political Parties and Communal Settlers’ Organizations under Ruling Party Leadership
The national political parties irrespective of their political stand and outlook, such as BNP, Jatiya Party, Jamat-E-Islam and the local upstarts, such as so-called Samo Odhikar Andolan and other organizations of the Bengali settlers under the leadership of ruling Awami League participated in the belligerent procession and protest gathering organized in protest of killing driver Nayon and in the incident of looting and setting fire in the shops and houses of Jumma peoples. Speakers contributed to the gathering in protest of Nurul Islam Nayon’s killing, among others, were: Longadu Zone Commander Lt. Col.
Abdul Alim Chowdhury and Officer-in-Charge of Longadu police station Mominul Islam. Besides, the persons spoke in the gathering were: Jane Alam, General Secretary of Longadu Upazila Awami League and also member of the Rangamati Hill District Council; Tofazzal Hossain, Longadu Upazila Chairman and President of BNP Longadu upazila branch; Nasir Uddin, Longadu Upazila Vice-Chairman and Amir of Longadu Upazila Jamat-E-Islam Branch; Advocate Absar Ali, Parbatya Chattagram Samo Odhikar Andolan leader; Shafikul Islam, General Secretary of Longadu Juba League; Alamgir Hossain, President of Rangamati Hill District Bangalee Chhatra Porishad, and so on. On the other side, as an integral part of the said mission, Juba League, the ruling party associate organization, organized a belligerent protest in protest of the motor cycle driver killing in Rangamati town at 11 am on 2 June 2017 during which provocative and communal slogans were uttered against the Jumma peoples.
From the experience it may be cited that initially, a gathering with all the political parties, officials from administration, security and law enforcement agencies was held at Ramu of Cox’s Bazaar District in 2012 and afterward, a joint attack was carried out in an organized manner upon the Buddhist temples and Buddhist communities. Similarly, protest gathering followed by looting and arson attack was carried out in synchronization of the political parties, army, police and communal Bengali organizations.
Reactionary Role of the Administration and ruling party Awami League
Following the incident, Deputy Commissioner of Rangamati Hill District Mohammad Manjarul Mannan, Additional Deputy Commissioner and Superintendent of Police Sayeed Tarikul Islam went to onsite visit on 3 June 2017. After visit, a law & order meeting was held in the Upazila Conference room at the initiative of the Upazila administration. The Police Super and officials of Upazila administration including the Longadu Army Zone Commander attended the meeting.
From among the Jumma peoples, the persons attended the meeting were: Moni Shankar Chakma, General Secretary of PCJSS Longadu branch; Kulin Mitra Chakma, Chairman of Longadu Union Parishad and also Headman of Longadu Mouza; Mangal Kanti Chakma, Chairman of Atarakchara Union Parishad; Buddha Moni Chakma, Karbari of Tintila village and 7/8 persons hailing from the victim families. The meeting was also attended by the members belonging to the ruling party Awami League, BNP, Jatiya Party, Jamat-E-Islam and Samo Odhikar Andolan and some 30-35 persons representing other Bengali settlers’ organizations. In this meeting, the Deputy Commissioner called upon the victim families to come back to their respective villages. During his speech, he belched out poisonous words against the regional political parties as good as a political leader. He centered his speech pointing the index finger at the regional political parties saying: ‘everyone knows as to who killed Nayon.’
During the talking with the victims by Dipankar Talukder, President of District Awami League, the victims protested against his words and at certain state a chaos reigned for the time being when he, instead of speaking against the persons involved in looting and arson attack, spoke about extortion and armed activities. With a view to keeping the Longadu Army Zone Commander Lt. Col. Abdul Alim Chowdhury in parallel to himself, he said: ‘People like you and I can never be adorable in their good book.’ He had a vain attempt to confuse the public opinion by saying that the villagers had been being subjected to fall prey to conspiracy of the PCJSS and that the victim Jummas are being used as stooges of PCJSS. The Awami League leadership, security and law & order forces and the administration, in a bid to cover their misdeeds and direct the situation towards other direction, are in orchestration of making statement against the regional parties in this manner.
Confusion over the Killing of Motor Cycle Driver Nayon
Although the Bengali settlers and the army alleged that two Jummas hired motor-cycle driver Nayon and killed him; no evidence has been made available in support of the claim. Rather various stories are heard over Nayon’s killing. For instance, it is heard that one Dipalo saw the motor cycle driver Nayon at Boalkhali bus station of Dighinala going towards Khagrachari with two Bengali passengers seated behind him. As Dipalo was known to him, Nayon made him informed of by showing hand signal specifying his going towards Khagrachari. Due to disclose this fact, Dipalo is looked for and threatened by the army, police and local administration. Even various sources say that one Mahendra Jeep driver (belonging to Bengali community) and his two other friends also saw Nayon with two Bengali passengers moving towards Khagrachari.
It is of worth mentioning that a syndicate of motor-cycle hijackers is active in the Rangamati-Khagrachari districts. Once, some members of the ruling party students’ organization were held up in Rangamati in connection with having involvement in the said racket activities (Vide: Headline: Snatching off Chatra League convict, The girijhiri24.com, 30 April 2016). It is likely that the said two Bengali passengers may have fled away with the motor cycle after killing Nayon and as the said Charmile of Khagrachari – the spot of occurrence, is of lonely-some, many are in opinion that the killers might have killed Nayon and left his body over there. For instance, the news of killing of one motor cycle driver Sadekul Islam of Mahalchari on 10 April 2017. The motive of Sadekul Islam’s killing was to snatch off the motorcycle – as per the confession of two Jumma persons held by police, captured the news in some media. It is to be of worthy to mention that the motor cycle driver Nayon has a very good rapport with the Chakma community people irrespective of ages and he could speak Chakma language fulently. So, also the Jumma people could not take his premature death as easy as anything else.
Behind the Screen of Attack
In the recent days, the gravity of suppression associated with arrest, detention, harassment upon the Jumma peoples being perpetrated by the army-BGB-police forces, illegal occupation of lands and eviction of Jumma peoples from their lands – the process being run with the support of the ruling party has got intensified. It is to identify and to label the just movement of Jumma peoples for implementation of the CHT Accord as a terrorism and to thwart down the movement by meting out suppressive measures upon the Jumma organizations and the workers including the PCJSS and over all, with a mean object to obstruct the implementation process of CHT Accord, the BGB-army-police forces have been unleashed to exercise their atrocities with the support of the ruling party. The ruling party, instead of implementing the CHT Accord, has been spreading non-stop propaganda following the methodology of Goebbels as to confuse the public opinion on implementation issue of the CHT Accord. Hence, without evidence, the army, administration and the ruling party local leadership attempt to make the Jumma peoples responsible for motor cycle driver Nayon’s killing. Especially, an ill-attempt pointing the index finger hinting the PCJSS to have been responsible for the said killing – a use as a political weapon against the Jumma peoples.
The Longadu incident is not an isolated mishaps like any other cases else. The communal attack associated with looting, killing and arson in Longadu is well corresponded to the continuity of ethnocide, and communal attacks in CHT as a part of ethnic cleansing policy of the government. Earlier on 4 May 1989 Longadu massacre was committed on Jumma peoples which left 32 innocent Jummas killed and 1011 houses of 9 villages completely burnt to ashes. It is to be mentioned that during the settling down of more than 500 thousands of Bengali settlers in CHT since 1979 by the government, the largest settlement of Bengali Muslims were engineered in Longadu. At present, the population of Bengali settlers stood more than 100 thousand in Longadu.
The main objective in carrying out 2 June communal and arson attack in Longadu is to evict the Jumma peoples from their ancestral lands and homesteads and to destroy their economic backbone of Jumma peoples as to turn the Jumma-dominated CHT region into a Muslim dominated region and to ensure Bengali Muslim settlements and their expansion. The quarters of vested interest are obstructing the implementation process of the CHT Accord – the only Charter of Rights of the Jumma-Bengali permanent residents in one end, while widening the way for growth of militant terrorism by letting the CHT situation unstable, on the other. It is fact that, so far the Bengali settlers perpetrated 20 fierce and barbaric communal attacks including that of this Longadu upon the Jumma peoples with the direct support of the ruling party and army-police even during the post-Accord period.
As preventive measures against the communal attack of this genre and for peaceful political solution to the CHT crisis, the following points are of great importance and most urgent:
To ensure immediate arrest and examplary punishment to the persons including security and law enforcing personnel having involvement in looting, killing and arson in the shops and houses of the Jumma peoples n Longadu;
Construction of houses of the victims of arson and communal attack and compensate with sufficient amount of financial support, at least 6 month ration and rehabilitate them with security of life and property;
Assessment of amount of loss and damage in the Longadu incident and implementation of government rehabilitation program of the victims through the Task Force on rehabilitation of India-Returnee Refugees and Internally Displaced Tribal Persons;
To declare a time-bound work plan or Road map for speedy, fullest and proper implementation of the CHT Accord.
To withdraw all the temporary camps as per the terms of the Accord and to lift up ‘Operation Uttoran’ from CHT;
To rehabilitate the Bengali settlers outside CHT with due dignity and honor;
Allocation of adequate fund for the CHT Land Commission, appointment of human resource, establishment of branch offices in Bandarban and Rangamati and having the Rules of Business finalized, to resolute the land disputes of CHT as per the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act (including the amendment 2016).
The persons who played leading role in looting, setting fire and perpetrating communal attack on Jumma villages:
Md. Saiful Islam (55), Tintila Bazar; joined to AL from BNP.
Khulilur Rahman Khan (40), Tintila Bazar; joined to AL from BNP.
Md. Juwel (37), s/o Abdul Hamid, Batya Para; Juba League.
Abdul Halim (40), Tintila Bazar, BNP.
Mohammad Ershad (35), s/o Abdul Barek Sarker, Gadochara, Mainy; AL.
Md. Shah Alam Murad (42), Tintila; BNP.
Abdul Sattar (30), Kattali, Tintila; BNP.
Md. Abu (30). s/o Mohammad Ali, Batya Para; AL.
Md. Mostafa, s/o Mohammad Ali, Batya Para; AL.
Choton Das, Mainy; AL.
Shamim, s/o Tajul Islam, Batya Para, AL.
Md. Nazrul Islam, s/o Mahbub Member, Batya Para; AL.
Alamgir Hossain Mona, president of Motorcycle Driver Association, Ward No. 9, Bogachadar union, Longadu.
Md. Delowar Hosssain, General Secretary, Bangalee Chhatra Parishad, Jalya Para, Bogachadar union, Longadu.
Major Rafique, 2nd-in-Command, Longadu army zone, 2 EBR.
Subedar Major Md. Rafique, Longadu army zone, 2 EBR.
Tofajjal Hossain, Chairman of Longadu Upazila Parishad and President of Longadu BNP.
Advocate Absar Ali, leader of Sama Odhikar Andolon.
Nasir Uddin, Vice Chairman of Longadu Upazila Parishad and Amir of Longadu Jamat-E-Islam.
Shafiqul Islam, General Secretary of Longadu Juba League.
Sarowar Hossain Molla, Information and Press Secretary of Longadu AL.