Hill Voice, 29 May 2020, Rangamati: After setting up a new army camp on the premises of Shijkamukh Public Buddhist Bihara without the consent of the Temple Management Committee in Sarboatli Union of Baghaichhari Upazila under Rangamati district, the army of the camp have been obstructing various religious activities of the temple along with house searching, harassing and threatening the local Jumma people of the area on various pretexts.
Recently, in addition to this religious persecution and harassment, there have been allegations of extortion of various items, including wood and bananas without paying prices, from the local Jumma people of the area by the army of the camps. The local villagers are being forced to reach items to the camp as per the instructions given by the army.
Few incidents of such collection are given below:
- Md. Badsha Mian Saudagar, a timber businessman from Lalyaghona in Ugalchhari, was forced to provide 14 wood pillars free of costs from his garden to build the army camp;
- Menon Chakma Danga, son of Karunya Chakma of Sijokmukh village, was forced to give 150 cubic feet of wood free of cost;
- Bijay Lal Chakma, son of Bankim Chandra Chakma of Chintaramachara, was forced to pay 150 cubic feet of timber without payment for the construction of the camp;
- A banana businessman named Sushil Chakma, the son of Binoy Kumar Chakma of Golachipar, was forced to give 3/4 bunch of bananas every week free of costs;
- Emel Shanti Chakma, son of Ranjanya Chakma of Chintaramachara, was also forced to give 3/4 bunch of bananas a week for free;
- Amar Kanti Chakma, son of Nirulal Chakma of Galachipa, was forced to deliver 10/12 banana saplings free of cost;
- Manek Jyoti Chakma, son of Adhu Chakma of Sijok Bazar, who is a returnee PCJSS member, currently living a normal life, was also forced to give free bunch of sunflower bananas on May 24, 2020;
- Chhandak Chakma, son of Lalit Mohan Chakma of Sijokmukh, was forced to give green coconuts from his tree without payment;
- Binoy Kanti Chakma of Sijok Bazar was also forced to give bunch of bananas free of costs.
Local people also complained that since the establishment of the army camp, the army has been harassing the local Jumma villagers in various ways, including obstructing religious activities in Bihara and conducting house searches.
On May 25, 2020, at around 8:00 pm, a group of army personnel from the Sijokmukh army camp surrounded the house of Tushar Kanti Chakma, an assistant teacher at Sijokamukh High School and searched his house. At that time, the army made baseless allegations with various threats that Tushar Kanti Chakma had given food to the terrorists. On that day, Tushar Kanti Chakma took help of 7/8 neighbors to bring the paddy to her house from farmland and arranged food for them.
On May 5, 2020, at around 10:00 pm a group of army personnel led by Warrant Officer Md. Shahadat surrounded the house of Kirti Ranjan Chakma alias Bhutto Lal (40), son of late Panchaban Chakma of Sijok Galachiba village.
When Kirti Ranjan Chakma was not found at home, the army interrogated his wife in a humiliating manner and made various threats. The army also cordoned off the house of Priti Chakma (36) and her father Sneha Kumar Chakma in the same village. As there was no one at home, the army went to the neighbors and inquired about them.
On April 26, 2020, a group of army personnel led by Warrant Officer Md. Shahadat surrounded the house of Jupiter Chakma alias Bappi (35), a member of Jana Samhati Samiti, a resident of Dakshin Sijok village, and searched his house. The army harassed and threaten by asking different questions to the people in the house.
Besides, the army obstructed the authorities of Bihara and the people of the area to hold the funeral of late Abhayatishya Mahathero, the principal monk of the Bihara, on December 10, 11 and 12, 2019 at that place, after his death. As a result, he was forced to perform the funeral rites of the late Abhayatishya Mahathero on the banks of the river Sijok.
It may be mentioned that on April 25, 2019, a group of army personnel led by a Major of the Maini Army Zone of Durbedya 21 Bir under the Khagrachhari Army Region came to the Sijokmukh Buddhist Monastery. On the same day, the new army camp was set up in the area owned by the Buddhist monastery by force and in violation of the CHT Accord. On the other hand, the Buddhist monastery was established in 1961.