9 families ordered to leave village and threatened to burn houses by army in Bilaichari

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Photo: Symbolic

Hill Voice, 12 February 2023, Rangamati: It has been alleged that the Bangladesh Army ordered 9 Jumma families of the area adjacent to the border link road in Farua Union of Bilaichari Upazila under Rangamati district to move their houses and threatened to demolish and burn their houses if they do not.

According to local sources, on February 6, 2023, Captain Maruf and Subedar Md. Ahmed of 26 Bengal Engineering Corps of Gachban Army Camp in Farua Union called a meeting with the nine Jumma families including the Karbari (village head) of Gachban Para area of Farua Union. At that time, Captain Maruf and Subedar Md Ahmed gave orders to move from their residences with their houses and belongings within 15 days.

On January 30, 2023, Chief of Bangladesh Army General SM Shafiuddin Ahmed went to inspect the border road construction project in Bilaichari-Barkal area and he ordered the removal of the 9 Jumma families from their residence, said Captain Maruf.

In the meeting with the villagers, Captain Maruf and Subedar Md. Ahmed threatened and said that the said villagers will have to move out of their place within 15 days. If they do not leave, the houses will be forcibly demolished and burnt. They also said that if they (villagers) do not leave, they will not be allowed to use the Jums that have been cut for cultivation.

The victim families are- (1) Thuda Chakma (Karbari), son of Murungya Chakma, (2) Sebak Chakma, son of Lal Mohan Chakma, (3) Amar Bikash Chakma, son of Parak Dhan Chakma, (4) Buddhalila Chakma, son of Madan Chakma, (5) Parak Dhan Chakma, son of Dina Mohan Chakma, (6) Shukralal Chakma, son of Buddhalila Chakma, (7) Sunil Priya Chakma, son of Thuda Chakma, (8) Batya Chakma, son of Buddhalila Chakma and (9) unknown.

It is learnt that during the discussion with Captain Maruf and Subedar Md Ahmed, Karbari Thuda Chakma of the village said that ‘we are completely dependent on Jum cultivation. Apart from this area, there is no place for Jum cultivation. So, it will not be possible for us to leave this area.’

A local leader of Farua area, who did not want to be named, said that the army is trying to occupy the place of the villagers for the purpose of setting up their tourism business center in that area. He said that the army is not only constructing the border road. In the name of border road, they are evicting Jummas from their homesteads along with destroying their resources and occupying attractive places for tourism business. Signboards are also being put up in some places saying reserved areas or places for .

Meanwhile, it is said that after the army ordered them to leave within 15 days in a meeting held on February 6, it has created deep panic and anxiety among the innocent villagers.

It should be noted that only last year (2022) 500 families suffered losses in three hill districts due to construction of border road and link road.