Army operation starts in Jurachari, concern among local residents

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Photo: Symbolic

Hill Voice, 24 May 2023, Rangamati: Although a relatively calm situation prevails in Jurachari of Rangamati district, there have been allegations that preparations for a massive military operation have been made at the initiative of the Bangladesh Army. It is said that this has caused great concern and anxiety among the general Jumma people of the area.

It is to be noted that even earlier during the army’s reckless operation, there have been widespread allegations of the army’s searching the houses, interrogating, beating, detaining, harassing of innocent local Jummas and eating the livestock and food grains of the villagers for free.

According to local sources, today 24 May 2023, around 9 am, a 40-personnel army team from Jakshabazar army camp under 7 Bir Banajogichara army zone of Jurachari upazila left for the Barisgola area of No.1 Jurachhari Union.

According to eyewitnesses, all the officers and soldiers of this army are wearing metal helmets and their nameplates have been removed from their uniforms.

On the other hand, it was reported that this morning, another army team from 32 Bengal Dighalchari army zone of Bilaichhari upazila have left for Jurachari to join the operation. It is reported that the Bilaichari army took their position by occupying Barkalak government primary school in No.1 Ward of Dumdumya Union of Jurachari around 10 am.

According to a source, this army operation may continue from today till June 10, 2023 and hundreds of army personnel may participate.

A village leader of the Jurachari area, who did not want to be named, said that although there is a relatively peaceful atmosphere in Jurachari now, it is not understandable and acceptable why the army are organizing such a large army operation here. He said that even though innocent people including army personnel were killed and injured due to the KNF attack and the explosion of landmines planted by the army in Bandarban, the army could not conduct any successful operation or take any action against the KNF. In addition, there are allegations that the army are forcing unarmed civilians to go there and using them as human shields.

He also said that the army operation in Jurachari means oppression and harassment of the people. This creates an atmosphere of fear among the common people and the normal life is extremely disrupted and endangered.

It is to be noted that the army conducted extensive operations in the areas of Barudgola, Beltala, Chalka Para, Amtala, Shalbagan, Thachi Para, Karani Para, Pancharimukh, Jamurachari, Bhuatali Chara, Mono Adam, Rajatal, Badalhat Chara under Jurachari upazila from last December 22, 2022 to last January 6, 2023, for about 16 days.

In the said operation, the army personnel harassed the local Jummas, searched their houses, and consume the Jummas’ domesticated cows, goats, chickens and rice forcefully. A sixty-four-year-old man was detained for a long time in winter and conspired to seize 6,616 teak saplings, the market value of which is said to be around Rs 3.57 crore, from a local jumma plantation owner and trader. There are reports that many villagers fled their homes in the severe cold weather due to the fear of army torture.

Later, there was an allegation of spreading lies by the army about the JSS by issuing a press statement saying that the army raided the JSS hideout in Jurachari and recovered various equipment to cover up their oppressive and harassing activities and news.