Nov 15, 2010

Chittagong Hill Tracts: Mysterious Fire Destroys Palace of Tribal Chief

A devastating fire at the palace of Raja Debashi Roy, chief of the Chittagong Hill Tracts’ Chakma Buddhist tribe, destroyed the building but injury to persons was prevented. Valuable royal artefacts were lost with the fire’s cause still being investigated.

Below is an article published by the Daily Star:

The fire on Wednesday night [10 November 2010] totally destroyed the palace of Chakma Circle Chief Raja Debashi Roy. The fire fighters could save nothing as the fire burnt the palace to ashes within half an hour.

A five-member inquiry committee headed by additional deputy magistrate (ADM) Md Nurul Alam Chowdhury, was formed soon after the incident. The probe body was asked to submit report within three days.

No member of the royal family was present during the fire. Raja Debashis Roy was in Bangkok and his daughter was in Dhaka. Meanwhile, no staff of Raja Debashis Roy could say from where the fire originated. They could not say the extent of damage. Also nobody could say what precious assets were burnt.

Fire Brigade officials also did not give any report about how much property of the Chakma dynasty was burnt in the fire. “No staff at Chakma Rajbari could estimate the extent of damage. Only Raja Debashis himself would be able to give exact information about the loss,” Abul Hossian, an official of district fire station told this correspondent.

However, he said that at least half of the valuable royal assets could [have been] saved if a fire boat and two divers [had been] at the fire station.

Subrata Chakma, personal secretary of Raja Debashish also said that he did not know how the fire was originated and what types of properties were burnt and how much loss was caused.

He said some valuable assets including a chair which was used by Queen Kalindi Rani, books, documents and some important papers on 'Raj Punnah' were there when the fire broke out.

The palace remains almost vacant when Raja Debashsis goes out, he added.

“One thing astonished me that the fire engulfed the palace from all directions and burnt it within a few minutes", Bitu Chakma, councilor of Rangamati municipality said.

“We could not identify the reasons behind the fire as nobody could say anything,” Babul Uddin Sarder, officer in-charge (OC) of Kotwali police station, said.

State minister for CHT affairs ministry Dipankar Talukder, Chairman of Rangamati Hill District Council Nikhil Kumar Chakma, Rangamati Region Commander and Rangamati Deputy Commissioner Sourendra Nath Chakrabarty visited the spot yesterday [11 November 2010]. Additional police and army were deployed around the palace after the fire