September 24, 2012

Chittagong Hill Tracts: Communal Attack Leaves Many Injured

Bengali settlers were reportedly involved in communal attacks against indigenous Jumma peoples. 

Below is an article published by Indigenous Peoples Issues and Resources:

 

Bengali settlers conducted communal attacks upon indigenous Jumma peoples in Rangamati on 22 September 2012. At least 40 Jumma students, 1 government physician, 12 Union Parishad chairmen, 2 college teachers and 5 Bengali students received wounds while severe damage was brought to the office and rest house of the CHT Regional Council, shops and houses of the Jumma people. Even though the army and police reached the spots much later, the security forces did not beef up proper measure. Despite the army took their positions at different locations along the main road (Rangamati-Chittagong road), the Bengali settlers conducted attacks upon the Jumma peoples and their localities either side causing wide damage upon Jumma-owned shops and houses.

It is learnt that hot exchanges over the issue of sitting in the college bus took place in between the two college students belonging to Jumma and Bengali communities in the classroom approximately around 9:30 a.m. At certain point, as the Bengali student kicked the Jumma student, the skirmish between the students of two communities began. The Bengali students attacked on the Jumma students indiscriminately. The incident took a wide shape as the Jumma students took an effort to resist the attackers. Chasing and counter chasing between the students of two communities continued. At this hour, the Bengali settlers from the surrounding localities near the college, being equipped with sharp choppers, canes, stick etc. entered the college boundary and participated in attack on the Jumma students.

At this hour, the army and police took position at the main entrance of the college. They did not prevent the Bengali settlers and Bengali students while they were chasing after the Jumma students. On the contrary, it was learnt that while the Jumma students got reorganized and started chasing the attackers of Bengali settlers and Bengali students, the army personnel brought in pressure upon the Jumma students. At this point of time, near about 30 Jumma students, 5 Bengali students and 2 college teachers got wounded.

Afterwards, some groups of army and police forces arrived at Rangamati Government College, College gate area, TTC Road, Kalyanpur and Devasishnagar. Immediately after their arrival, the army and police forces drove the attacking settlers away and the Jummas also began to back to their own localities. But while chasing after the Jumma people, the army and police entered into Jumma-inhabited Kalyanpur and Devasishnagar localities. They continued to chase the Jumma peoples with canes and sticks. They began caning and pelting at the Jummas irrespective of women and children. Another group of army led by the Warrant Officer Md. Omar continued to chase the Jumma people along the Kalyanpur road while striking against the Jumma houses by roadsides with sticks. At certain point, the army continued to advance towards the residence of CHT Regional Council chairman. At this time, as the chairman of the Council came out of his residence, the army personnel conducted outrageous behavior with him also.

Immediately after the occurrence of college incident, the Bengal settlers from different areas began to gather at College gate, Banarupa, Kathaltali, Vedvedi, North Kalindipur, Amanatbag, Reserve Bazar, Old Bus Stand, Tabalchari and other places to attack the Jumma peoples. The Bengali settlers also attacked the Union Parishad (UP) Chairmen who were attending conference at the Rangamati Upazila Council Conference Hall. In this attack, around 12 UP chairmen received serious wounds while other 20 chairmen received wounds more or less. Later on, the army rescued the UP chairmen from the rampage and provided treatment to them at army hospital. The group of chairmen soon met with the General Officer Commanding (GOC) at the Circuit House and demanded immediate arrest of the culprits and examplary punishment to them. After attack at Vedvedi area, the Bengali settlers broke the houses of Bishu Kumar Chakma and Sundar Kumar Chakma near the Vedvedi Primary School. Besides, the attackers set fire on a truck and an auto-rickshaw at Vedvedi. During attack at Banarupa area, many Jumma men and women including Dr. Sushobhan Dewan of Rangamati General Hospital were wounded.

The settlers attacked Dr. Sushobhan Dewan with chopper and stick at the Kaushik Pharmacy. They also broke his motorbike. The Bengali settlers also broke the commercial institutions, shops and Chevron & Doctors Lab owned by the Jumma people. He sustained serious injuries in the head and got his hand fractured and might lose the sight in one eye. It is learnt that as the day was a Market Day, many Jumma men, women and children came to market became victims of the attack. The Bengali settlers also attack the Jumma people who went to see the wounded at the Rangamati hospital boundary. At this one Subhash Mitra Chakma received serious wounds. In Reserve Bazar, the settlers also attacked 5 Jumma people who came to the market. The Jummas at Tabalchari and Majhir Bosti also became under settler’s attack.

On the other, the attackers attacked the CHT Regional Council office; they broke the main entrance, window glasses and vehicle glasses and pelted at the office. They tried to set fire by throwing petrol-filled burning Coca-Cola bottles at the CHT Regional Council office. They also assaulted the CHT Regional Council rest house. The window glasses of the rest house and the glasses of one vehicle got shattered in this attack. The Bengali settlers also attacked on the building of retired government officer, Amuya Ranjan Chakma and broke the shops attached to it. As the attackers pelted stones, the windows of district office of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) got shattered. It is to be noted that the Bengali settlers attacked the CHT Regional Council office and rest house towards 3.00 pm that is 5 hours later since the beginning of the incident.

Centering the Rangamati incident, the Bengali settlers also attacked the Jumma people at Longadu upazila sadar. At least five Jummas including Chikko Muni Chakma were wounded during the attack. Around 30 wounded persons including Dr. Sushobhan Dewan were admitted at Rangamati General Hospital, among them, 5 Bengalis, Dr. Sushobhan Dewan, Mangal Kanti Chakma and Subhas Mitra Chakma were sent to Chittagong in serious condition.

General Officer Commanding (GOC) of 24th Infantry Division of Chittagong cantonment visited Rangamati and organied a meeting with government officials, public representatives and teachers of Rangamati college at the Rangamati Circuit House. The meeting decided to form an inquiry committee to investigate the incident. Following the decision, section 144 was imposed in Rangamati town for indefinite period.

Following the Rangamati College students’ incident, the way the Bengali settlers organized the attacks in association so rapidly in almost all the areas of Rangamati and the way the administration and the security forces tackled the situation, it can be said that the whole attack has been a motivated and pre-planned design. In fact, a communal quarter of vested interest has been hatching conspiracy to destabilize the situation in CHT to further extent for a long time.

The PCJSS strongly condemns the communal attack upon the Jumma peoples and demands for immediate arrest of the convicted persons involved in the crimes and award with examplary punishment.

Update:

On 23 September 2012 fresh attacks on Jumma people was made near Rangamati general hospital area while section 144 prohibiting large gatherings is still in force. Two Jummas have been injured at Kalindipur at about 11.00 am when the Bengalis pelted them with stones. One Dinesh Tanchangya has been reportedly beaten by some Bengali youths at Rangamati general hospital road.

 

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