More 65 Bawm refugees take refuge in Mizoram

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Hill Voice, 23 May 2024, Special Correspondent: More 65 more Bawm refugees from Bangladesh’s Bandarban district of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) have taken refuge in Mizoram of India, on Sunday (May 19), according to relevant sources. Officially, with this influx, the Bawm refugees in Mizoram have risen to 1,433, but the unofficial number is more than 2,000.

In early April, the common Bawm community has fallen in great trouble for the anti-KNF military operation by the joint forces led by Bangladesh army and the DGFI subjected to arbitrary detention and killing, and various atrocities by KNF, after 2 consecutive days of bank robbery, arms looting and abduction of a bank manager by the KNF terrorists. Many of the Bawm people were forced to leave their villages and fled in different directions.

As a part of that, recently once again Bawm community including women and children from Bandarban were forced to cross the border and take shelter as refugees in Mizoram state.

The refugees arrived on May 19 were currently in Bhatuampui village of Lawngtlai district in Mizoram state. Among the 65 refugees, 38 were men and 27 were women.

Just eight days ago, May 10 (Friday), at mid night (around 2 am), a group of 127 Bawm people entered Mizoram’s Lawngtlai district from bordering Bandarban in the first phase.

It should be noted that, from November 2022, the Bawm people started taking shelter in India as refugees. Although, official date is on December 12. Initially, the Mizoram authorities pushed back the refugees several times. Later, the refugees were accepted following the demands of YMA (Young Mizo Association).

It is reported that, at least 15/16 people including children died among the refugees after their arrival in Mizoram. Besides, it is said that for not having valid papers, the children of the refugees are being deprived of education and these refugees have been in a very inhumane state.

It may be noted that, the KNF terrorists in their Ruma Sonali Bank robbery on April 2 and Thanchi Sonali Bank and Krishi Bank robbery on April 3, looted a huge amount of money along with 14 government firearms and ammunition, and kidnapped a bank manager. After the incident, from April 7, the joint forces led by Bangladesh Army and the DGFI have launched a massive military crackdown in the Bandarban area.

It is learnt, a total of 111 people has been arrested and detained from April 7 to April 22 in the ongoing anti-KNF operation by the Bangladesh security forces.

In all, 9 innocent people were shot dead by the joint forces since April 7 in the name of operation against the KNF. Among them, an innocent Bawm student studying BA Honors in the middle of the last April, 5 Bawm villagers from Painkhyong Para village of Rowangchari on May 2 and 3 students today (May 19), were shot dead by the army.

After the military crackdown, the Bawm people again became helpless and started taking shelter as refugees in the neighboring country.

Meanwhile, no significant step has been taken by the Bangladesh government and law enforcement agencies to bring the refugees back to their respective places and ensure their safety.

Notably, the Kuki-Chin National Development Organization (KNDO) was formed in 2008 led by Nathan Bawm and Vanchunliam Bawm with the support of the Army and the DGFI. Later, in 2019, the KNDO was renamed as Kuki-Chin National Fron (KNF), known as Bawm party. Then, armed activities were started instigating the KNF against the implementation of the CHT Accord and Jana Samhati Samity (PCJSS) that signed the Accord, after 25 years of struggle for right to self-determination for ethnic groups in CHT.

Most importantly, after exposing the news of providing shelter and military training to an Islamic militant group in exchange of money, the army was compelled to launch operation against the KNF under international pressure. But despite this, the army and the DGFI allegedly continue to strategical support to the KNF.