Construction of a new camp underway in Alikadam’s Dochari Bazar area

Photo: Dochari Bazar in Alikadam

Hill Voice, 16 October 2021, Bandarban: Construction work of a new army camp is underway under Alikadam army zone next to Dochhari Bazar in Ward No. 4 of Kurukpata Union under Alikadam Upazila of Bandarban district.

According to local sources, a new army camp is being built under the leadership of Md. Ikramul Hasan, JCO of Alikadam army zone by forcibly occupying the traditional Jum land as per the requirement of the army without informing anyone of residents of the area.

There are 140/150 villages including Mro Para, Tanchangya Para, Tripura Para, Khumi Para, Butui Para, Lengtui Para, Raitmoni Para, Mentang, Paddi Para, Saklam Para, Parao Para, Tanleng Para, Bara Mongpong Para, Dangku Para, Jagaram Para in the surrounding areas of Dochari Bazar.

An elder of local people, who did not want to be named, said there were no problems. For many years, we, the people of Mro, Tanchangya, Tripura and Khumi, have been living together without any hindrance. Suddenly, without informing and consulting with us anything, a new army camp is being built under Alikadam army zone.

The elder also added that army members have frequently been conducting extensive searches in villages in the name of searching terrorists. They have been intimidating the people of the area, he alleged.

A local Karbari (village head) said, “The army has instructed us not to give shelter to any member or supporter of Jana Samhati Samiti or any extortionist and if we see a terrorist, we should immediately inform the army.”

Some Jumma villagers of the areas, who did not want to be named, said villagers were being forced to work for free where the army was building new army camps. The villagers are forced to give free trees and bamboo for the same.

The villagers further said that they have been instructed by Alikadam army zone to supply the necessary tree and bamboo to them. The villagers were forced to cooperate in cutting hills, clearing jungles and constructing army camps without any pay.

It is to be noted that in remote areas of some upazilas in Bandarban district, the army is still carrying on the forced labour of feudal era. Medieval barbarism, such as, construction of camps without pay, collection of forest resources, carrying of drinking water from the hill streams to the camps situated at hilltop, transporting food to the army camps, compelling villagers to sell poultry and cows and goats to the army at low cost, etc. are still going on.

Human rights activists in the CHT, who did not want to be named, said that although the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Accord signed in 1997 provides for the withdrawal of all temporary camps from the region, however, the current government led by Sheikh Hasina has been setting up new camps trampling the Accord. By virtue of de facto military rule called ‘Operation Uttoron’ issued in 2001, the army has been controlling everything including general administration, law and order, development activities, judiciary in the CHT.

The human rights activist also added that the present government has chosen the path of military solution to the CHT problem in a fascist manner by following in the footsteps of previous dictators instead of resolving the problem politically and peacefully as per the CHT Accord.

A silent protest ‘Alok Projjwalon’ program has been organized at Dhaka University over the vandalism of the idol of Durga puja festival of the Hindu community, communal attacks and violence in different parts of the country. Dhaka University Jumma student family and Jumma students studying in DU from the hills jointly organized the silent protest in front of the Buddha statue at Jagannath Hall on the Dhaka University campus on Sunday (October 17, 2021).