Reckless army interference in Jurachari Upazila Parishad election

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Hill Voice, 8 May 2024, Special Correspondent: It is reported that the army have made reckless and forceful interference in the Jurachari upazila parishad election of Rangamati district in favour of the ruling party chairman candidate and obstructed the voters in various centers.

Apart from this, there are also reports that the army itself and have unleased masked terrorists vandalizing several houses along with beating up innocent people.

According to local sources, on May 8 at around 6 a.m, the polling agents of chairman candidate Suresh Chakma, vice chairman candidate Kamini chakma and women vice chairman candidate Anita Devi Chakma supported by the PCJSS detained for about 1 or 1.30 hours by a group of army led by subedar Masud of Shalbagan camp, going to the Sohel Para poling centre under Ward No.5 of Jurachari Sadar Union. Although, afterwards the polling began as usual, the army is known to have prevented several voters entering the polling centre.

Around 8 am, the army have driven out all the agents of other candidates except the ones of Gyanandu Bikash Chakam with pineapple symbol from the polling centre of Maidong Union of Jurachari Upazila.

From 7.30 am a group army led by captain Sayem forced the voters present at Bhuatolichara centre of Ward No. 4 under Dhumdumya Union of Jurachari to cast vote for pineapple symbol of ruling party chairman candidate Gyanendu Chakma, threatening to face dire consequence otherwise. It is learnt that the army have prevented the voters from voting for about 1 hour to 2 hours. However, polling began normally around 10 am, but the army continued to pressure voters to vote with the pineapple symbol as well.

Around 8 a.m, a group of army numbering 14/15 personnel led by Subedar Jafar, Fakirachari army camp commander, went to the Basti Para centre of Ward No. 7/8/9 under Dhumdumya union 4 and removed all the agents from the centre except the pineapple symbol agents. There, the army obstructed the voters entering the centre forcing them to stay at the premises of a shop. In addition, the army have taken away the mobile phones of all the voters present at the center.

Around 10 am, another group of army went to Faqirachara polling station in Maidung Union and allegedly chased the voters away from the polling station. At the same time, the army also drove away the voters from the Basti Para center of Ward No. 7/8/9 of Dumdumya Union. There are reports that voters could not go to the center due to fear.

It is also known that at the wee hour around 3 a.m, 5 masked terrorists went to the Jalentu Chakma house, son of late Surendra Lal Chakma, in Banjogichara Sadar Union, next to the Banjogichara army zone, and severely beat up Jalentu Chakma. Apart from this, the terrorists vandalized various valuable items in the Jalentu Chakma’s house.

It may be noted that the army started campaigning for the pineapple symbol of the ruling party candidate Gyanendu Bikash Chakma in Jurachari and continued to pressure the common people and other candidates’ workers in Jurachari.

On May 4, 2024, three leaders of Pahari Chhatra Parishad (PCP) Rupam Chakma, Suren Chakma and Roni Chakma were arrested from Jurachari Sadar area by the army personnel of Jaksha Bazar army camp under the Banajogichara army zone of Jurachari without any complaint or warrant. At that time, they were returning home after campaigning for the chairman candidate Suresh Kumar Chakma contesting in the ongoing 5th Upazila Parishad election. The next day (May 5), a false case was also filed by the army against 16 innocent villagers including the three.

On May 7, 2024 at around 2:30 PM, a group army of Banjogichara army zone surrounded Gyana Jyoti Chakma house near Banjogichara bazar in Jurachari, and entered the house vandalizing items including TV, mobile phone, almirah, wardrobe. Gyana Jyoti Chakma was not at home at that time. The family members of Gyana Jyoti Chakma were instructed not to vote for independent chairman candidate Suresh Kumar Chakma by army personnel. The army threated that if he went out of his house the next day, he would be killed.

On May 5, 2024, between 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM, another army group of 25/30 personnel led by Subedar Masud of Shalbagan Camp under Banjogichara Zone went to Thachi Para of Ward No. 6 of Jurachari Sadar Union and surrounded some houses and ordered the people to vote for the pineapple symbol. Besides, Subedar Masud threatened that “If Gyanendu Bikash Chakma of pineapple symbol does not win, then, by Allah, no one would be exempted.