Movement of Reformists in army escort, extortion demanded, beatings

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Hill Voice, 1 June 2020, Chittagong Hill Tracts: Separate groups of army-backed Reformists and UPDF (Democratic) armed miscreants are reported to have entered Rowangchhari in Bandarban district and Jibtali in Rangamati district with army escort. It is alleged that the miscreants have brutally beaten an innocent villager in Jibtali.

Besides, it has been alleged that Reformists and UPDF (Democratic) miscreants demanded extortion from employees of Barkal Upazila and every village and family of Jurachhari and Baghaichari areas over phone.

The arrival of Reformists and the UPDF (Democratic) in different places with the army escort and the demand for extortion have caused panic in the minds of the people in different areas.

Reformist and UPDF (Democratic) groups in Rowangchhari in army protection:

It is learnt that on 31 May 2020, a group of armed Reformists and UPDF (Democratic) consisting more than 15 members came to Baghmara in Rowangchhari upazila of Bandarban district from Khagrachhari district. They entered Bandarban under the arrangement of a Reformist member named Ratan Tanchangya with army protection.

According to reliable sources, the army along with the Reformist and UPDF (Democratic) miscreants have planned to conduct an operation in Rowangchhari area.

Reformist and UPDF armed groups in Jibtali with army escort:

On 31 May 2020, at around 5:00 pm, an armed group of Reformists and the UPDF (Democratic) reached the Chairman Para of Jibtali Union under Rangamati Sadar Upazila in an army escort.

The army provided escorting to the Reformists and UPDF armed men in two trawler boats and after that, the army returned to Rangamati in another boat. It is known that there are at least 15-20 people in the Reformist group.

Reformists and UPDF (Democratic) members cordoned off the area after the chairman of Jibatali Union reached the neighborhood and tortured a few people. They snatched the mobile phones of some people.

UPDF (Democratic) and Reformists tortured an employee named Jagadish Chakma in Jibtali. He is the son of late Birendra Lal Chakma in Jibtali.

Besides, the Reformist miscreants surrounded the house of Samiran Chakma. However, as Samir Chakma was not at home, they made various threats to his wife Refa Chakma. At this time, the two daughters of Samiran Chakma, Rupabati Chakma and Mishu Chakma were also threatened by the Reformists.

At around 10:00 am on same day, a group of army numbering 30/35 personnel from Rajmoni Para Army Camp in Jurachhari Upazila Zone (8 Bir) of Rangamati District currently camped in the teak garden of Advocate Mrinal Kanti Chakma between Badalchhari and Kaindya by hanging tent.

The villagers suspect that the army may have taken up position there for providing protection to the Reformists.

Demand for extortion in Jurachari:

The Reformist and UPDF (Democratic) armed members have instructed all the headmen and Karbaries of Jurachhari upazila of Rangamati Hill District over phone to collect Tk. 500 per family.

Demand for extortion in Baghaichhari:

The Reformist and UPDF (Democratic) armed members have called every farmer in Battala area under Baghaichhari upazila of Rangamati hill district demanding extortion Tk. 300 per Kani (0.40 acre) of paddy land. And those who do not have cultivable land have been asked to pay Tk. 100. They were asked to pay the extortion by June 01.

Demand for extortion from employees in Barkal:

It has been alleged that the army-backed Reformist terrorists stationed at Subalang Bazar under Barkal Upazila of Rangamati Hill District have demanded Tk. 3,000 per person from all government and non-government employees of Barkal Upazila.

The Reformist extortionists have asked to pay the money by 2-3 June 2020. Recently, the Reformists demanded this toll by calling every public and private Jumma employee working in Barkal upazila on their mobile phones.

It is learnt that with the exception of a few, most of the employees run their families on their salaries. As a result, many employees will be in trouble if they are compelled to give such amount of money.

According to the relevant sources, the employees are asked to deposit their own money first to a person. The reformists will then collect the money from the person.

According to a special source, a few days ago, the army of Subalang Bazar camp collected the names, addresses and mobile numbers of all government and non-government offices in Barkal from the Barkal Upazila Nirbahi Officer.

It is suspected that the Reformists called according to the list and phone number collected by the army and demanded extortion from the Jumma employees.

Army patrols in Jurachari:

On 31 May 2020, a group of 18/19 army members led by Warrant Officer Abul Momin from Jakshabazar Army Camp under Banjogichhara Zone of Jurachhari Upazila conducted patrolling at Sapchari and stationed at Sapchhari Government Primary School under Ward No. 8 of Jurachhari Union.

From there, a group of army numbering 8/9 personnel had taken up position at the place known as Lulangchhari from where a camp was withdrawn after the CHT Accord.

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