Army-backed another armed group ‘Kuki-Chin National Front’ in Bandarban

Photo: Detained 6 KNF / KNA members

Hill Voice, 30 March 2022, Special Correspondent: Most recently, an armed group called the Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF) and its armed wing Kuki-Chin National Army (KNA) have emerged. The leaders of the organization claim that the organization considers Bawm, Lusai, Pangkho, Khyang, Khumi and Mro ethnic groups of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) as Zo people and has emerged as a political organization with the aim of asserting the rights of the Zo people.

Although the leaders of the organization claimed that the KNF / KNA was formed to assert the rights of the Zo people in the CHT, but it is alleged that this organization was formed with the help and patronage of the army and Islamic militant groups to provoke ethnic divisions and conflicts among the various ethnic groups of indigenous Jumma peoples in the CHT.

There are allegations that the organization was set up by some opportunistic people of the Bawm community for personal vested interest. As a result, there is no participation and support of the common people of that Zo ethnic people in this organization.

According to local sources, the Kuki-China Development Organization (KNDO) was formed in 2008 in Ruma upazila of Bandarban district by declaring Nathan Bawm as president and Vanglanlian Bawm as general secretary.

According to the organization’s statement, the name of the organization was later changed to the Kuki-China National Front (KNF) in 2016 due to the failing of asserting its rights through democratic way, and they embarked on an armed movement forming the Kuki-China National Army (KNA) as the armed wing of the KNF. According to KNF leaders, the goal of the KNF is to establish the CHT as a region of Zo ethnic people and Christian faith people.

The Mizoram-based newspaper ‘Vanglaini’ published reported in Mizo language on 23 March 2022 that KNDO had demanded to the government of Bangladesh in 2015 to take steps for development of the living standards of Zo people in the CHT and allocate a separate budget for the Zo people. The organization also demanded that the government recognize Zo people-inhabited 9 Upazilas (sub-districts) of the three hill districts as Kuki-Chin states.

However, it is alleged that though the KNF leaders had claimed that the KNF was formed for the purpose of asserting the political rights of the Zo ethnic groups, but in reality, they had no political program for the same.

Sources said that the KNDO and later changing name as KNF and KNA was formed with the instigation and patronization of the Bangladesh army and Islamic militant groups, with an aim to thwart implementation process of the CHT Accord by inciting communal conflicts and ethnic divisions among various ethnic groups of indigenous Jumma peoples in the CHT, to engage them to attack and propagate against the members and supporters of the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) engaged in the movement for the implementation of the CHT Accord, and above all, to implement hidden agenda of ethnic cleansing of the Jumma people gradually.

In fact, despite the KNF / KNA is highlighting demand of recognition of 9 Upazilas as Kuki-Chin states and promoting the development of the Zo people, this is nothing but to cover up the hidden agenda of the army and Islamic militant groups, to justify itself as a political organization, and above all to gain easy support from the Zo people. In fact, apart from implementing the agenda of the army and Islamic militant groups, no other activities of this organization have been noticed, locals said.

As soon as it emerged, the organization launched a campaign against the CHT Accord and PCJSS and against the Chakma community. On December 30, 2021, a status of the Kuki-Chin National Front on its own Facebook account reads: “the Chittagong Hill Tracts is not a Jummaland, it is a Kuki-Chin territory.” It is also said that “The Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord and CHT Regional Council are not for the Kuki-Chin people. It is an agreement of Chakma people and a development council only for the Chakma people.”

According to local sources, the KNDO / KNF members have stationed under the shelter and support of the army at Luisang Para, Soulpi Para, Chaikshyong Para, Tingdaulthy Para and Thaikshying Para under Ward No. 6, 7, 8 and 9 of Remakri Prangsa Union of Ruma upazila in Bandarban district. The nearest army camps to these areas are Luisang Para army camp, Keokradong army camp, Sunsang Para (Bawm Para) army camp and Baglai Para (Bawm + Tripura) army camp. These camps are under the control of the 28 Bir Regiment of Ruma army Zone.

Local sources further said that an Islamic militant group called ‘Jamaat-e-Arakan’ led by Shamim Mahfuz has reportedly stationed there along with KNDO / KNF members. Sources said that Shamim Mahfuz was once a member of the banned Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and Harkatul Jihad in Bangladesh. It is noteworthy that the Jamaat-e-Arakan militant graoup has close ties with various national and international Islamic militant organizations.

According to local sources, the KNDO / KNF has an estimated 100 members, all of whom are from Bawm community and are accompanied by more than 150 militant members of the Jamaat-e-Arakan, who are based in a KNF camp set up in Rumakri Pransa area.

The Bangladesh army have been using them against the implementation of the CHT Accord and against the PCJSS, which is engaged in the movement for the implementation of the Accord. KNF / KNA members are said to have some country-made guns, SBBL and 0.22 rifles and a few AK-47 rifles.

The KNDO / KNF is mainly funded by Islamic militant groups and the army, said a public representative of the Bawm community, who spoke on condition of anonymity. In addition, the organization has been extorting money from the general people, abduction and ransoms. Due to their unruly behavior and lack of political activities and their involvement with the army and Islamic militant groups, KNDO / KNF has no popular support among the local people. The said public representative also claimed that KNDO / KNF is an organization isolated from the people.

6 members of KNF detained at Mizoram border:

Six members of KNF / KNA were reportedly detained by the 199 Parva Battalion of BSF at the Mizoram border on 24 March 2022 at 6:30 am.

They were reportedly detained while entering India through Pillar No. 1 in Bandukbhanga area of Parva under Chanwgte sub-division of Longtalai district of Mizoram on the Indo-Bangladesh-Myanmar tri-border. The detainees claimed to be KNF / KNA members.

The names of the arrested persons have been mentioned in the news of Mizoram based daily ‘Rauthla’ published in Mizo language on 28 March 2022: 1. Ramdindlian Bawm (20), s/o Lalthan Kung, 2. Sangkhum Bawm (32), 3. Lian Bawisang Bawm (30), s/o Nawhdo, 4. Lalsangrem Bawm, (34), 5. Lalrammawi Bawm (45) and 6. Nunsang Bawm (39). All of them have identified themselves as residents of Bandarban district of Ruma upazila.

It is learnt that a letter with the seal of the President and Chief of Staff of the Kuki-Chin National Army, VHF set 1, commando knife 3, mobile phone, one lakh Bangladeshi currency in cash, 30,000 Indian Rupees, 3 uniforms (which are used by the Bangladesh army) and other equipment is reported to have been recovered from the detainees.

The detainees were handed over to Longtalai District Police on 25 March 2022. At present, 6 KNF terrorists have been imprisoned in Longtalai Jail.

A video released from KNF’s Facebook account on 25 March 2022 shows that a few armed members of KNF / KNA was stationed at Tuichawng Chara (stream) near Parva Village Council in Longtalai district of Mizoram.

At the same time, KNF / KNA members have barred the Jum farmers from going to the tri-junction areas like Dhuppanichara, Shilchari, Shuknochari, etc. in the area of ‘Bhuichek’ in the middle of Bandukbhanga and Border and are forcibly collecting paddy, vegetables and cattle from the Jum farmers.

According to reliable sources, KNA armed terrorist members who stationed illegally at Shuknochari near Bangladesh border in Parva area have been given strict ultimatum by Indian BSF and Assam Rifles to leave Indian Territory.