5 Jummas beaten, prevented from treatment by army and expose of conspiracies in Jurachari

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Hill Voice, 2 February 2024, Special Correspondent: Recently, taking 5 jummas to a local army camp, the army inhumanly beat up them protesting against an attempt to grab land by some Bengali settlers with the indulgence of the army. The land belongs to a jumma villager in Jurachari under Rangamati hill district. After media coverage and various pressure from various corners, although the army released the victims that night from the camp, the 5 victims are reported being kept confined at the Hill District Council rest house, in Jurachari Sadar. Even, the victims have been reportedly obstructed from taking treatment for injuries due to severe physical torture by army.

It is not all, while the army was desperate in attempting to frame the victims in burning a Scooty of a teacher by unidentified miscreants a few days ago, the army is confusing the situation by propagating that if the victims go for treatment in Rangamti, the JSS members might shoot them on the way as they be Awami league workers.

The 5 Jumma victims are- (1) Pallab Dewan (48), son of late Amrita Lal Dewan, joint organizing secretary of Jurachari thana Awami League and present member of No.1 Ward in No.1 Jurachari Union; (2) Sajib Chakma (32), son of Biplob Chakma, Village- Baroituli, No.3 Ward, No.2 Banajogichara Union and he is General Secretary of Jurachari Thana Jubo League; (3) Anupam Chakma (55), son of unknown, Village- Dhamai Para, he is President of Awami League in No. 2 Banajogichara Union. (4) Mintu Chakma (32), son of unknown, village- Kusumchari, No.9 Ward, No.1 Jurachari Union, he is general secretary of Awami League in No.1 Jurachari Union and (5) Rontu Chakma (38) unknown, village-Baroituli, he is General Secretary of Jurachari Thana Awami League.

Notably, on January 13, 2024, a group of army numbering 15/20 personnel led by camp commander Captain Mosharraf of Jakka Bazar army camp under Banajogichara army zone took away 6 Jummas obstructing the land grabbing by Bengali settlers with the help of army to the army camp. Among the detainees, 5 are associated with Awami League and the other one is an innocent villager. Reportedly, out of the 6 people, the villager was released, but the other 5 detainees were savagely beaten by the army.

It has been reported, while the victims were under physical torture, the army forced them to confess their involvement in the incident of burning a scooty of a school teacher by miscreants earlier. It is to be noted that some a month ago, the scooty of a teacher Shiuli Chakma was set on fire by unidentified miscreants.

It is learnt that in the undertaking the army made them give a fictitious statement that they (detainees) set the scooty on fire out of anger as Shiuli Chakma, a teacher in charge of the polling station, prevented the victims from casting fake votes during the last 7th January 2024 national election. In fact, Shiuli Chakma had not any duty in the polling centre on that day. Factually, the army resorted to such a false and baseless argument to justify their committed torture and divert the incident to different course, and to create a misunderstanding between the victims and the teacher.

According to the victims, under immense pressure, the army had no way but to release them from the camp. At that time, the army took the 5 victims to the hill district council rest house at Juarachari Sadar and confined them there, forbidding them not go outside the rest house. In fact, they were hostages.

The next morning (January 14), with the help of Santosh Chakma, Chairman of Banjogichara Union Parishad, the victims decided to go to Rangamati town for treatment, so, hired a speed boat. Hearing the news, the Banajogichara army ordered the speed boat driver not to go to Rangamati or anywhere.

On the same day, a group of Jakka bazar army personnel, carrying fruits like apple, grapes in baskets, visited the hostages at the rest house. They left the rest house leaving the fruits and some medicines for the victims. Despite the relatives and well-wishers wished them to get admitted in Jurachari Upazila Hospital, the army did not allow them. The army said, none but the army would provide treatment.

The worst injured are Awami Jubo League General Secretary Sajib Chakma and General Secretary of Awami League in No.1 Jurachari Union unit Mintu Chakma. Till writing this report, the victims neither could get admitted to hospital for treatment, nor go to Rangamati because of the army barrier.

A source wishing to remain anonymous said, an investigation conducted by various intelligence agencies following the army statement showed that teacher Shiuli Chakma was not on duty at any center on the polling day. So, there is no point of conflict between Shiuli Chakma and the victims, and anger towards each other over voting. So, the army statement of burning Shiuli Chakma’s bike by detainees out of anger was also proved baseless. In fact, it is said that the army made up this false and fabricated story to cover up their incitement to grab Jummas land and the beating of 5 protesters.

A secret source said, a lack of faith in each other based on the immediate past national election caused conflict between the local army and Awami League in Rangamati, especially in Jurachari,. Army thinks, Awami League and Jana Samhati Samiti had a secret agreement regarding the election. So, JSS withdrew its candidate. Therefore, the army in Jurachari is fed up with the Awami League.

According to intelligence and the victims, while the 5 Jummas were being beaten in the army camp, the camp commander Captain Musharraf said, ‘Phone Prabartak Chakma and Gyanendu Chakma too. I will beat them too. What kind of Awami League they do! What power they show!’ Prabartok Chakma and Gyanendu Chakma were reported to have refrained from going to Jurachari after the incident.

It is to be noted that both Prabartak Chakma, current member of the Rangamati hill district council and Gyanendu Chakma, former member of that council are Awami League leaders in Jurachari.

The sources further added, the false and baseless story made up by army for refraining the victims to go to Rangamati for treatment was- they have information that Sumit chakma, General Secretary of JSS of Jurachari unit, deployed 15 persons at Chilekdhak area, a place on way to Rangamati, to shoot the five victims. So, the army obstructed them from going to Rangamati for their security.

Sources reported, all walks of people from Jurachari disappointed and angry with the zone commander of Banjogichara army zone Lt. Col. Zulfiqli Arman Bikhyata PSC, Major Awal and Jakka bazar army camp commander Captain Musharraf for their destructive role and anti-interest of people. The people believe, because of them, rampant harassing military patrol, home search, beating people, conspiracies of grabbing Jummas’ land and settling settlers, adaptation of divide and rule policy, harassment and oppression have violently increased recently.

It is learnt that when the zone commander knew that the local people are trying to transfer the army officers elsewhere, the zone commander was heard to comment, ‘I will remain as CO wherever I transfer, but I will occur something before leave.’ People think of his words as threatening and expressed concern.

It is noteworthy that on January 13, at around 8 am, 5 outsider Muslim settlers put poles around the ancestral land of Himayan Chakma located in Jurachari Sadar to grab the land amounting 0.20 acres. When it came to light, Jumma residents including the owner went there and tried to refrain them. Thus, an altercation and tension arose between the both parties.

The settlers attempted to grab the land were (1) Md. Siraj (32), son of unknown, day laborer and retail oil trader by profession; (2) Md. Sohail (30), son of unknown, carpenter by profession; (3) Mithun (27), tea shopkeeper; (4) Md. Faisal (29), son of unknown, cloth trader by profession and (5) Name known.

Afterwards, a group of army led by Captain Musharraf, commander of the Jakka bazar army camp, detained the 6 victims and took them away to camp. After a while, Banajogichara army zone commander Lt. Col. Zulkifli Arman Bikhyata PSC appeared there, and later, he too moved to Jakka bazar army camp.