Taindong observers call for people’s probeStaff Correspondent
A group of rights activists and journalists after a field visit to hill villages at Taindong of Matiranga in Khagrachari on Wednesday demanded a people’s inquiry commission to investigate the arson attack that took place on August 3 which they thought was aimed at demoralising the hill people and grabbing their land by staging a large-scale eviction.
Another group of citizens, led by Fazle Hossain Badsha MP, also called for the implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord, making the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission functional after amending the 2001 commission act to stop the grabbing of hill people’s land which was the cause of violence in hills.
The group of activists and journalists at a news conference at the National Press Club in Dhaka put forward a set of demands, including the establishment of a people’s inquiry commission headed by a retired Supreme Court judge and the representation of hill people on the commission and the publication of the report.
They also demanded emergency measures to protect lives, land and property of hill people and to rehabilitate victims of the attack with the rebuilding of their houses, compensation for the damage and distribution of food for at least three months.
The group’s coordinator Supreme Court lawyer Sadia Arman spoke at the news conference and the Jatiya Mukti Council secretary, Faizul Hakim, read out the report on the field visit.
Journalist Salim Samad, rights activist and blogger Kallol Mostafa, Lamppost editor Prince Ahmed, Democratic Youth Forum general secretary Michael Chakma, UNB staff correspondent Faisal Rahman and Hill Watch Human Rights Forum members Aungya Marma and Sunil Chakma also comprised the team.
The observers said that from interview with victims and people in the locality, they had become certain that the attack was well planned and the attackers had spread false accusations against hill people from July 31 to August 3 to establish the ground ground for the attack and the rumour of abduction of motorcyclist Abul Kalam was rumoured to establish an excuse for the sectarian attack.
They said that the local union council chairman, leaders of political parties and local commander of the Border Guard Bangladesh had been ware of such plots and the Khagrachari deputy commissioner had informed various agencies of the plots two days before the attack.
They said that before the attack, Bengali settlers had also carried out attacks on hill villages in February and June that panicked the hill people, prompting a group to take shelter in bordering areas.
The observers said that they had noticed panic and a sense insecurity in the hill people and it had become imperative to identify perpetrators of the attack and punish them to restore harmony to the area. Although the administration arrested a few people, behind-the-scenes planners were still at large.
The hill people questioned the inaction of the border guards during the attack and the Matiranga police’s declining to register cases
The observers said that they had found that 36 houses had been burnt to ashes and about 400 houses of hill people and two monasteries — Sorbeswar Para Janashakti Bauddha Bihara and Monudas Para Bauddha Bihara — had been plundered and vandalised by the Bengali settlers.
Ashamoni Chakma, two-month-old daughter of Sukkamoni Chakma of Bandarsing Para, died of pneumonia in Khagrachari General Hospital on August 10. She had developed pneumonia after being soaked in rain while her injured parents were returning from no man’s land on August 4.
The citizen’s committee composed of Fazle Hossain Badsha MP, Nijera Kori executive director Khushi Kabir, researcher Shapan Adnan, economist Anu Muhammad, National Human Rights Commission member Nirupa Dewan, jurist Sara Hossain and journalist Sushmita Preetha in a statement observed an uninterrupted process of the grabbing of the land of hill people and marginalising them.
They said that measures that had so far been taken for their rehabilitation and the compensation were not enough.
They said that the role of the law enforcement and intelligence agencies were not appropriate and the silence of the border guards despite their presence on the spot was mysterious.
They demanded that reports of three investigations being conducted by the National Human Right Commission, the CHT affairs ministry and the Khagrachari district administration should be made public and exemplary punishment should be given to the attackers.
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