Conspiring deal made between Jamaat-e-Arakan and the KNF 

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Photo: The person on the left next to Nathan Bawm is Major General Naqib Ahmed Chowdhury, now the military secretary to the Prime Minister, then Brigadier of Bandarban Brigade.

Hill Voice, 4 April 2022, Special Correspondent: A sensational information has been received through reliable sources that a conspiring deal was reached between an Islamic militant group named Jamaat-e-Arakan led by Shamim Mahfuz and the army-backed Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF). The agreement was made in 2020 at Bawm village called Saron Para (7 Miles area) in Bandarban Sadar upazila of Bandarban district. It is learnt that the deal was made as per the direction of the army.

The pact stipulates that the Kuki-Chin National Front will set up camps near the Bawm localities in the Chamdur project area of Longtalai district in the Indian state of Mizoram, and that Jamaat-e-Arakan will set up camps on the tri-junction area of Indo-Bangladesh-Myanmar border.

Under the terms of the understanding, members of the Kuki-Chin National Front who have taken military training in Kachin Province of Myanmar will provide arms training to Islamic militant members. It may be mentioned that in 2016, 40 members of KNF went to Kachin province for taking military training. Among them 2 died there and 12/13 members escaped from training.

There is another provision in the agreement that Jamaat-e-Arakan will buy and collect arms and ammunitions through the Kuki-Chin National Front, and that Jamaat-e-Arakan will give a certain portion of that arms and ammunitions bought to the Kuki-Chin National Front.

The contract also stipulates that Jamaat-e-Arakan will provide financial support to the Kuki-Chin National Front for up to BDT 500,000 per month. Apart from this, the Islamic militants will also bear all the expenses related to the construction of the camp, training, food items, medical treatment etc.

During the signing of the deal, residents of Saron Para namely Fenkhup Bawm, Cheosim Bawm and Tolayonthan Karbari, a resident of Bethany Para named Vanlalruat Mro and a resident of Faruk Para Ruatsang Bawm were present in the spot. All of them are members of Bandarban Division Committee of KNF. Sources said that most of the meetings or conferences of KNF are usually held in this area.

It is worth mentioning that when Nathan Bawm comes to Saron Para, at that time, a Muslim  person with beard also comes there in a white car. Many locals confirmed that the person with beard was Shamim Mahfuz of Jamaat-e-Arakan.

It may be mentioned that the office of KNF at Aden Road in Ruma Upazila was inaugurated by the then Brigade Commander of Bandarban Naqib Ahmed Chowdhury in 2017. The source further informed that the conspiratorial agreement was made between KNF and Jamaat-e-Arakan as per the agenda of Bangladesh military forces. According to the direction of the army, the issues of setting up of camps at Parva in Mizoram by KNF and at Tri-border area by the Jamaat-e-Arakan, paying of monthly financial support to KNF by the Jamaat-e-Arakan, procuring and collecting arms and ammunition for Islamic militants by the KNF etc. have been included in the deal.

As per the agreement, trained members of the KNF have so far been providing military training to Jamaat-e-Arakan militants and have been stationed together in the Remakri Prangsa area of Ruma upazila. However, as per the plan of the agreement, recently (March 24, 2022) while 6 members of KNF went to Parva in Mizoram for stationing there, they were arrested by the BSF and another 20/25 armed group was also expelled from Parva area. The arrest of KNF members and the expulsion of another group have dealt a major blow to the conspiracy, and many of the conspirators including members of the KNF have reportedly been frustrated.

It is also learnt that Islamist militants have given one crore takas in the first installment to Nathan Bawm, President and Vanchunglian Bawm, General Secretary of the Kuki-Chin National Front, to set up the camps. Later, Islamist militants reportedly paid BDT 80 lakh in the second installment to the Kuki-Chin National Front for the purchase of arms and ammunitions and BDT 75 lakh in the third installment. Local villagers of the Bawm community have alleged that the Kuki-Chin National Front is working as a kind of hired forces for the Islamic militants in exchange for a huge amount of money.

It is alleged that Nathan Bawm, President, and Vanchunglian Bawm, General Secretary of the Kuki-Chin National Front, are constructing two three-story buildings with the money provided by Islamist militants. It is learnt that the construction work of the two buildings have been started at the same time.

It is also learnt that ordinary soldiers of the Kuki-China National Front were outraged when they learned of the construction of the pucca house by their leaders. The soldiers have expressed dissatisfaction by stating that the leaders are making 3-story buildings, on the contrary, ordinary soldiers are suffering immensely. As a result, the construction work of the buildings was stopped for some days, the sources said.

Photo: Nathan Bawm’s three-story building under construction

It is to be mentioned that in 2008, the organization called Kuki-Chin Development Organization (KNDO) set up in Ruma upazila of Bandarban district by electing Nathan Bawm as President and Vanchunglian Bawm as General Secretary. Later, in 2016, the organization was renamed the Kuki-China National Front (KNF) and the Kuki-China National Army (KNA) was formed as an armed wing of the organization.

Although the KNF leaders claim that the KNF was formed to assert the rights of the Bawm, Lusai, Pangkho, Khyang, Khumi and Mro ethnic groups in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, but it is alleged that the organization was formed with the help and patronage of the army and Islamist militants, at the behest of some opportunistic and collaborators of the Bawm community.

It is alleged that the main purpose of forming this organization is to thwart the process of implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord by instigating ethnic conflicts and divisions among different Jumma ethnic groups in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, by conducting propaganda against and attacks the members and supporters of the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti who are continuing movement for the implementation of the Accord, and above all, to implement the blueprint for the gradual ethnic cleansing of the Jumma population, as per the hidden agenda of army and Islamic militants.

It is learnt that Islamic militant group called ‘Jamaat-e-Arakan’ led by Shamim Mahfuz, former member of the banned Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and Harkatul Jihad, has reportedly stationed in the remote area of Ruma along with KNF armed members. Sources said that the Jamaat Arakan militant organization has close ties with various national and international Islamic militant organizations.

The KNF and Jamaat-e-Arakan armed terrorists are stationed in Luisang Para, Soulpi Para, Chaikshyong Para, Tingdaulthy Para and Thaikshying Para under Remakri Prangsa Union of Ruma upazila adjacent to the Luisang Para army camp, Keokradong army camp, Sunsang Para army camp and Baglai Para army camp in Remakri Pransa Union under the control of the 28 Bir Regiment of Ruma Army Zone.