PCJSS supported candidates win 8 against 9 seats in Rangamati Upazila Parishad elections

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Hill Voice, 10 May 2024, Special Reporter: The day before yesterday (May 8), the first phase of Upazila Parishad Elections were held in the three hill districts as other parts of the country. Out of the ten upazilas of Rangamati district, in four upazilas (Rangamati Sadar, Barkal, Jurachari and Kawkhali) elections were held in the first phase of elections. The candidates supported by Parbatya Chittagram Jana samhati Samiti (PCJSS) won all other seats except the seat of chairman of Jurachari upazila parishad, competing for chairman, vice chairman (general) and woman vice chairman in Rangamati Sadar, Barkal and Jurachari upazilas.

There are widespread allegations that, behind the narrow margin defeat of PCJSS supported candidate in Jurachari to ruling party AL candidate, the naked interference and biased role played by Zulfiqli Arman Bikhyata, the commander of Banajogichara army zone of Jurachari is responsible. Apart from this, in Jurachari and Barkal upazila, there were allegations of attempts by the army to use the UPDF (democratic) and Reformist terrorist groups in support of the ruling party candidates.

The unofficially declared winners in Rangamati Sadar Upazila Parishad were – Anna Sadhan Chakma Doat Kalam (Ink pot-Pen) supported by PCJSS for the post of chairman obtained 14,885 votes and his rival Awami League candidate Advocate Biplab Chakma got 10,029 votes; PCJSS supported Rita Chakma for the post of woman vice chairman got 20,798 votes in Prajapati (butterfly) symbol and her rival Nasreen Islam got 5,273 votes in Sewing Machine symbol; Palash Kusum Chakma, the PCJSS supported candidate for the post of Vice Chairman (General), got 11,450 votes in mike symbol, his closest rival is Dayamoy Chakma Tukke got 5,118 in the aeroplane symbol.

The Barkal upazila candidates declared winners unofficially were- PCJSS supported candidate Bidhan Chakma for the post of chairman, he got 11,328 votes in Doat Kalam (Ink pot-Pen) symbol, his nearest rival Awami League supported candidate Santosh Kumar Chakma got 6,677 votes in pineapple symbol; Woman Vice Chairman PCJSS supported candidate Sucharita Chakma got total 12,387 votes on duck symbol, her closest rival Rakhi Chakma got 5,152 votes on sewing machine symbol; The PCJSS supported candidate Gyana Jyoti Chakma for the post of Vice Chairman (General) got 13,053 votes in Tubewell symbol, his closest rival Pulin Bihari Chakma got 4,171 votes in aeroplane symbol.

The candidates declared winners unofficially in Jurachari Upazila Parishad were – Awami League supported candidate Gyanendu Bikash Chakma for the post of chairman, he got 4,693 votes in pineapple symbol, his nearest rival PCJSS supported candidate Suresh Kumar Chakma got 3,359 votes in ink pot and pen symbol; PCJSS supported candidate Anita Devi Chakma for the post of Woman Vice Chairman, got 7,022 votes in the duck symbol, her nearest rival Jyotsna Talukder got 3,789 votes in the lotus symbol; PCJSS supported candidate Kamini Ranjan Chakma for the post of Vice Chairman (General), got 5,392 votes in spectacles symbol and his nearest rival Rontu Chakma got 5,316 votes in the aeroplane symbol.

Shamsuddoha Chowdhury, the Awami League-backed candidate for the post of chairman in the Kaukhali Upazila Parishad election, was declared the winner unofficially by getting 23,693 votes in the pineapple symbol.

Although, it is to be noted that no significant untoward incidents or complaints were reported in Rangamati Sadar Upazila during the elections, there were widespread allegations of bias, conspiracy and misuse of power by the army in favor of the ruling party candidate in Jurachari and Barkal upazila. Especially in Jurachari Upazila, the zone commander of Banjogichara army zone, Zulfiqli Arman Bikhyata, has been widely accused of arresting PCJSS-supported people and common voters, filing false cases, vandalizing houses, issuing threats and preventing voters from voting by himself and associates.

Several village elders, who did not want to be named, complained that due to the campaigning and pressure on voters by the army in favor of the ruling party’s candidate, before election and also on the election day, spontaneous polling could not take place in Jurachari. Many could not come to the polling station due to being blocked and chased by the army. Zulfiqli Arman Bikhyata, the Zone Commander of Banjogichara army Zone himself called all the headmen and karbaris of the upazila and ordered them to vote for Awami League chairman candidate Gyanendu Bikash Chakma and threatened that if they did not do so, they would face difficulties.

On the other hand, on May 4, an armed group of 20/22 members of UPDF (Democratic) and Reformist terrorists supported by the Army and DGFI conducted an armed exercise in two speedboats from Subalong bazar to Chota Harina Bazar upstream of Barkal. The terrorists on the way were caught red-handed by the BGB personnel in Arabuniya area, and informed the BGB that they were coming there as per the army instruction. Later, with the intervention of the Army and DGFI, the BGB personnel were forced to return the arms and ammunition to the armed terrorists and let them go after serving tea and breakfast. However, when the incident was spread on social media in multiple videos, there was a huge negative reaction and the terrorists were forced to return from there. It is to be noted that the terrorists came to Subalong Bazar in two jetboats from Longadu Bazar under the special guard of the army in the evening of May 3 and spent the night.

Notably, it is the sixth Upazila Parishad Election of the country. Voting has been completed in 139 upazilas in the first phase. In the first phase, elections were held four upazilas of Rangamati district, in Matiranga, Manikchari, Ramgarh and Lakshichari upazilas of Khagrachari district and in Bandarban Sadar upazila and Alikadam upazila of Bandarban district. BNP and other opposition parties did not participate in this election. The PCJSS participates only in three upazilas of Rangamati district. In the first phase, 12 people contested for the post of chairman, 10 people for the post of woman vice chairman and 10 people for the post of vice chairman (general) in 4 upazilas of Rangamati district.