Hill Voice, 28 August 2022, Rangamati: It has recently been reported that there has been an increase in the oppression and torture of the army against the common and innocent indigenous Jumma people in Bilaichhari Upazila under Rangamati Hill District. In general, in the name of suppressing terrorism, like in other areas of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), even though the army has regular surveillance, search and authority over the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) and its associate organizations and the people who support the CHT Accord, recently there have been reports that the level of oppression on the innocent people has increased.
According to local sources, especially after the posting of Bir 32 regiment of the army in Bilaichari, military raids, house searches, beatings, arrests and harassment on innocent people have increased in the area.
A local rights activist, who did not want to be named, said that according to the attitudes and activities of Bir 32 Regiment Commanding Officer Ahsan Habib Rajib, it can be understood that he is a person of fundamentalist and communal views.
He said that the army has currently stopped the trade or sale of teaks and bamboo in Bilaichari area. Teaks and bamboos from one’s own garden or around the house are also not allowed to be sold without a permit. The army says that all areas of the forest department belong to the government. They (army) are government agency, so the control of these areas is in their hands. If you do not take permission, stay away from business, they (army) will not allow you to cut any tree or bamboo to build a house.
A villager of Farua area said that the people of Farua area earn enough income by cultivating faras beans every year which contributes an important share in their livelihood. A tree or a bamboo thicket is needed to cultivate the bean, which is called ‘Gil’ in the local language. Recently the army are not allowing to cut even the ‘Gil’ for this bean cultivation. However, bean cultivation is one of the means of livelihood of the people of Farua.
Another villager, who did not wish to be named, said that on August 17, 2022, the army personnel of the Farua army camp seized 6000 (six thousand) Muli bamboo purchased by a Jumma trader and are now using them for the army camp. A local businessman named Udjoy Tanchangya bought those bamboos for TK. 96,000. The bamboo is sold together with Kornafuly paper mills. The soldiers did not pay the businessman even a single penny for these bamboos.
The villager also said that the local people earn some money by selling some teaks and bamboos. Now that too is closed. Currently, the economic crisis is going on in Farua area.
A widow named Noa Mela Chakma, a resident of Toktanala village of Farua Union, said that she has a land measuring 1.20 acres near to the Taktanala army camp, where she cultivates various vegetables including beans. Currently, the army personnel are not allowing her to do farming work on that land. Noa Mela Chakma said that there is no other land to cultivate except that place. So, she is helpless now.
Another rights activist of Bilaichari area said that recently intelligence agency DGFI started a conspiracy to bring a group of UPDF (democratic) terrorists supported by the army to Bilaichari upazila area. He said that on August 17, 18 and 21, 2022, DGFI member Nazrul Bilaichari upazila Awami League vice-president and Kengrachari Union Parishad chairman Russell Marma and another vice-president of Upazila Awami League Angsa Khoi Marma held 3 rounds of secret meetings to implement this conspiracy. DGFI member Nazrul is also said to be making efforts to form the Bilaichhari upazila branch committee of UPDF (Democratic) terrorist group.
It is known that earlier, Chairman Russell Marma and Angsa Khoi Marma detained Thui Mong Marma, general secretary of Na-Kabachara village committee of CHT by bringing him to Bilaichari Bazar and at a state, forced Thui Mong Marma to make sure that he will not work for PCJSS. Chairman Russell Marma and Angsa Khoi Marma also threatened to kill Thui Mong Marma if he works for PCJSS in future. Later, Thui Mong Marma fled his home in fear.
It is to be noted that on August 23, 2022, two innocent villagers were tied up and detained in the camp by a group of 21 personnel led by a captain of 32 Bir East Bengal Regiment of Bilaichari Army Zone of Bangladesh Army in Kengrachari Union of Bilaichari Upazila. The army released the two villagers after being detained for more than 5 hours in Bilaichhari army zone after inhumanely beating them.
The two villagers who were beaten and detained were identified as Mintu Chakma (40) and Santu Chakma (35), both son of late Hiralal Chakma from Bengalkata of Kengrachari Union.