Threatening and shooting of Bawm Party aim to evict villagers in Ruma, residents of 4 villages evacuated

Photo: Villagers taking shelter in Marma welfare Association building at Ruma headquarters

Hill Voice, 29 January 2023, Bandarban: It has been reported that the KNF, known as Bawm Party, is threatening the villagers of some Bawm and Marma villages of Paindu Union of Ruma Upazila of Bandarban to flee from their villages and has been accused of shooting in the area pretending to attack the army.

As a result, Bawm villagers from Bastalai, Artha Para, Happy Hill Para of Paindu Union and Marma villagers from Mualpi Para have reportedly fled the village.

Many of the victimized villages, who did not wish to be named, have expressed the view that the KNF is plotting such evictions to force Bawm villagers to take shelter as refugees in Mizoram, mainly to gain sympathy and support from the Mizo, Kuki and Chin communities of India’s northeast and Myanmar.

According to local sources, in the light of this conspiracy, the Bawm Party started carrying out various provocative activities in order to take place shooting with the army in a pre-planned manner. As a result, on Friday (January 27) around 10:00 am, there was an exchange of firing between Bawm Party and the army inside Mualpi Para of Paindu Union. However, there was no information about casualties.

After that, 45 families from Bastalai Para, 70 families from Artha Para, 35 families from Happy Hill Para, a total of approximately 150 families fled due to fearing and took shelter in Mualpi Para, Bethel Para and Ruma Sadar area.

On the other hand, it is reported that 170 Marma villagers of at least 45 families fled from Mualpi Para of Paindu Union on Saturday (January 28) and took shelter in Ruma headquarters. Among them, about 50 Marma villagers have been sheltered in the building of Marma Wellfare Association located in the upazila headquarters.

Besides, it is learnt that the villagers of around 12 villages of Ruma, including Prangsa Para, Ili Chanda Para, Kaktai Para, Krokhyong Para, left their village in fear for 3 days and took shelter in different forests.

A person who did not want to be named said that the son-in-law of Karbari (village head) of Mualpi Para was taken away by KNF. Later, the villagers rescued him from the forest while he was seriously injured. After the incident, panic started among the people in that village.

As a result of the threats of the Bawm Party to leave the village, all the villagers fled towards the headquarters of Ruma on Saturday evening (January 28). Many families have taken refuge in the forest. Some families have taken shelter in their relatives’ homes.

According to local sources, the KNF members were constantly moving through the village as Mualpi Para was located in a remote area at a distance of 8 km from Ruma Sadar. Due to their movements, the villagers are terrified and everyone is afraid of their atrocities.

Bawm Party armed terrorists are terrorizing the villagers that they are going to attack the army soon. If a war breaks out with the army, ordinary villagers can also be casualties. Therefore, the KNF members are ordering the villagers to leave the village and move elsewhere.

Many of the affected villages, who did not want to be named, said that the Bawm Party members are giving such orders to evict the Bawm villagers from the village and compel them for taking shelter as refugees in Mizoram. If it is possible to take shelter as refugees, the sympathy and support of Mizo-Kuki-Chin people towards KNF will be strengthened.

If Bawm villagers can be able to take shelter as refugees, KNF members and their family members can also hide among the refugees, while the public opinion against them for providing shelter and military training to Islamic militants can also be diverted into other direction. Many have opined that with such a motive, the Bawm Party is scaring the villagers that they will fight against the army and forcing them to leave their villages.

It should be noted that since last October 2022, when the operation of the joint forces started against the Islamic militants and the Bawm Party, which provides shelter and military training to the militants, as a result of the threats and harassment of the Islamic militants, the Bawm Party and the army, 295 innocent children, women and men of the Bawm community from the remote village of Ruma were compelled to take shelter in Chamdur Project area of Chawngte subdivision of Lawngtlai district as refugees.

After taking shelter in several rounds, the number of refugees sheltered in Mizoram now stands at 390. Among them, 212 people have been kept in Parva-3 area, 34 people in Vathuampui area, 46 people in Maotlang area, 44 people in Chamdur Project area and 52 people in Mongbuh area.

However, on January 24, 2023, in a memorandum submitted to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Zo Re-unification Organization (ZORO) claims that there are more than 700 Bawm refugees in five centers in Mizoram’s Lawngtlai district.

It should also be noted that this armed group, known as Bawm Party, was emerged with the help of the army, at first naming as KNDO in 2008 and later changing name as KNF in 2016, with the aim of engaging them against the ongoing movement of the Jumma people demanding for implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord signed in 1997 by creating divisions among the Jumma people based on the policy of divide and rule.

But after its formation, at a stage, Bawm Party started providing shelter and military training to an international Islamic terrorist militant organization called Jamaatul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya in their camp from 2021 in exchange of taka 30 lakh per month.

Many of the experts concerned have expressed the opinion that although KNF was formed by the army to destroy the Jumma people with the Jumma people, it has become a boomerang for Bangladesh due to the provision of shelter and military training to the Islamic militants in remote hills.