New army camps being set up in Rangamati amid corona pandemic

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Hill Voice, 5 May 2020, Rangamati:  During the deadly coronavirus epidemic, the Bangladesh Army has started setting up new temporary camps in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). Local sources confirmed that at least four camps are being set up in Rangamati district recently.

According to PCJSS information, four new army camps were set up in Rangamati district in 2019. Many are of the opinion that such kind of setting up new camps is direct violation of the CHT Accord.

According to local sources, the construction work is underway to set up a new army camp at Merangchhara Marma Para under Ward No. 5 of Kengarachhari Union of Bilaichhari Upazila. The owners of the land selected for new camp are Ma Aung Karbari, Misaung Marma, Singlaprue Marma and Runaiprue Marma.

On 2 May 2020, about a hundred army personnel from Gachkatachhara Army Camp (6 East Bengal) visited Merangchhara Marma Para to set up the camp. It is learnt that Lt. Col. Tanvir Ahmed Mahmud Pasha, Commander of Bilachhari Zone (6 Bengal) inaugurated the new construction work on 5 May 2020 Tuesday.

It is learned that another new camp is being set up at Baidya Para and Madan Para under Ward No. 6 (under Chaichal Mouza) of Aimachhara Union of Barkal Upazila. This land is on the border of Barkal Upazila and Jurachhari Upazila.

Local sources confirmed that army contingent of 14 personnel from Jurachhari on April 29 and another contingent of 24 personnel on April 30 and a group of 29 BGB personnel from Barkal on 1st May went to the area to set up camp. On May 3, the Commanding Officer of Banjogichhara zone of Jurachari also visited the site.

At present, the army group led by Major Nazimul is stationed at a place called ‘Shil Majya Kab’ near to Madan Para and Boidya Para and BGB group led by Subedar Anwar is stationed at another place closed to the same area, according to local sources.

According to local sources, plans have been made to set up a new camp at Deppochari area of ​​Baradam mouza in Mogban union of Rangamati Sadar upazila. On April 28 and 29, Army from Rangamati Army Zone and Kaptai Army Zone visited Deppochhari area for two consecutive days.

It is learnt that another new camp has been planned at the place in Gulshakhali Shantinagar area of ​​Longadu upazila from where BGB camp withdrawn after CHT Accord. On March 19, a group of BGB members from Rajnagar BGB zone visited the place. The land is in the process of being settled in the name of Santosh Chakma, a resident of Gulshakhali Mouza and is being socially reserved as a football field.

The CHT Accord signed in 1997 between the Government of Bangladesh and the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) for a political and peaceful solution to the CHT problem provides for the withdrawal of all temporary camps from the CHT.

According to the government information, more than two hundred camps have been withdrawn from the CHT after the Accord. But the PCJSS claims, 31 temporary camps were withdrawn in the first phase and 35 camps in the second phase in 1998 immediately after the Accord was signed.

After resume in the state power by the present Awami League government in 2009, 35 more camps (including the Kaptai Brigade office) were withdrawn. After the withdrawal of 101 camps in three phases, more than four hundred temporary camps are still in force in the CHT, PCJSS claims.

Although there was no insurgency after signing of CHT Accord, the government issued de facto military rule called ‘Operation Uttoron’ in the CHT in 2001 replacing ‘Operation Dabanal’ imposed in 1977 as a counter insurgency program.

On the other hand, instead of withdrawing the temporary camps as per the CHT Accord, the government is setting up new camps one after another.

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