Massive military drive and house searching in Rangamati Rajdwip, fear in mass psyche


Hill Voice, 13 April 2020, Rangamati:  A group of army has launched a patrolling drive in the indigenous people inhabited Rajdwip and Rajbari area of Rangamati district headquarters and harassed many people by searching houses in the morning, today.

It is to be noted that right at this hour, as there prevails stagnant life overwhelmed with multi-faceted wants due to undeclared lockdown for prevention of COVID-19 infection and so is the reign of despair and dispiritedness in observing the Biju, Sangrain, Boisu, Bishu or Bihu – the most endearing traditional festival of the indigenous Jumma people in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). In this critical juncture, such drive, searching and harassment of the army have caused to rise further grave concern and temperament among the people.

It has been learnt that on 13 April 2020 at 4:00 AM an army contingent numbering 150, having divided in several groups, surrounded the areas of North Rajdwip, Middle Rajdwip, Barua Para, Hindu Para and Lichubagan Para including the Rajbari area of Rangamati town. By then, the army personnel, while kicking the door shutters, asked the householders to open their doors. The army personnel told Bitu Chakma (52), former Ward Commissioner of Rangamati Municipality and an inhabitant of Rajbari area, that they would go there again. However, the army personnel did not enter into the Rajbari premises.

The householders of houses that underwent searching by the army are:

  1. Forent Chakma (35), s/o Binode Bihari Chakma, Middle Rajdwip;
  2. Bijoy Giri Chakma (55), s/o late Joydhan Chakma, Rajdwip. He is Balukhali Union Parishad Chairman under Rangamati Sadar Upazilla;
  3. Sumeru Dewan (65), Lichu Bagan;
  4. Chitra Sen Chakma (62), s/o Jamunashwar Chakma, Rajdwip. He is an former Chairman of Bandukbhanga Union Parishad;
  5. Kalapuna Chakma (38), s/o Daya Mohan Chakma, North Rajdwip; and
  6. Hangela Chakma (35), s/o Purna Ratan Chakma, North Rajdwip.

During search, the army sought voter ID card and also wanted to know the professions and the numbers of house inmates and harassed in various loathsome manners. They left the place at 9:00 AM and all the groups got ashore at Jaljan Ghat of Rangamati town.

On the other, on 11 April 2020, a 42-member group of army commanded by a Major from Shilchhari army camp of Jurachhari Upazilla of Rangamati hill district, marched via Botali and took position in the Begenachhari government primary school. At the same time, another group numbering 40/50 personnel from Gaskatachhara camp of Bilaichhari army zone marched to Naraichhari government primary school under Bilaichhari Upazilla and took position there.

Another group numbering 40 personnel from Kaptai Iceland camp set out by 2 trawlers and on reaching at Izachhari, they divided into two groups of the two, one group marched towards Pittichhara while the other group joined the group already camping.

In the afternoon, the group that were camping at Begenachhari government primary school, joined the group staying at Naraichhari government primary school for some while and afterward the group went back to Begenachhari government primary school again. On the other side, another group numbering 40/50 personnel from Bilaichari army zone, patrolled in various villages including Tagolokchhara.

On 12 April 2020, the army group camping at Begenachhari government primary school went back to Shilchhari camp via Bottali.

From among the army group camping at Naraichhari government primary school, some 30 personnel set out for patrolling upward course of Narachhari and shot 3 blank fire near Narachhari Ujani government primary school and after making advance further ahead along the Shibajjete Chhara, they fire 5 more rounds following which they stayed there for some time and again got back to Naraichhari government primary school.

Hearing the sounds of fire, panic among the people got spread. As a result, the villagers who were already inside their houses under lockdown to combat coronavirus came out and began running here and there.

One small group of army from the group that was camping at Badalchhari, marched up to Badolhatachhara where they got some people gathered and having some snaps of the gathered Jummas, they went back to Badolchhari again.

On the other part, the army and BGB also patrolled the Sijok area of Baghaichari Upzilla under Rangamati hill district. On 10 April 2020, the joint forces patrolled the Sijok Joutha Khamar and Chintaramchhara and on 11 April 2020, they patrolled Golachibe of Sijok and Jatin Mohan para of Tangum.

After signing of CHT Accord 1997 between the government and PCJSS to solve the CHT crisis by political and peaceful means, the then Awami League government promulgated ‘Operation Uttoron’ – a kind of military rule in 2001.

It is by merit of ‘Operation Uttoron’, the army, in one hand, is doing away with campaigns of illegal arrests, persecution, torture, sending to jail, searching houses, harassing every now and then, while taking absolute control on civil administration, law & order, development, judiciary, etc. on the other.