Dec 15, 2011

Chittagong Hill Tracts: Indigenous People Targeted

In response to the unsolved death of a settler, Bangalee settlers began indiscriminately attacking innocent indigenous people in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, demonstrating the tense situation still prevailing and deep levels of mistrust after years of ethnically driven state policies.

Below is an article published by The Daily Star:


The couple came under attack at Kobakhali of Dighinala in Khagrachhari as local Bangalee settlers were protesting on a road there following discovery of the hacked body of settler Abdus Sattar who used to give rides to people on a motorbike in exchange for money.


Abdus Sattar went missing on Tuesday evening [13 December 2011] and his body was found the next morning near Duitila under Baghaichhari of Rangamati, said Nayem Uddin, officer-in-charge of Baghaichhari Police Station.


Sattar's family members and local people said he was seen alive last when he was giving two indigenous persons a ride to Marishya Bazar in Rangamati on Tuesday.


After Sattar's body was brought to Kobakhali, local Bangalee settlers burst out in anger and launched attacks on indigenous people on Dighinala-Rangamati road stopping vehicles.


Suspecting two indigenous persons as killers of Sattar, the settlers attacked indigenous people indiscriminately. Four other indigenous persons were also injured in the attack while at least six remained missing from Marishya Bazar till filing of this report at 7:00pm yesterday [14 December 2011].


The settlers stopped a vehicle carrying Chigonmala Chakma and her husband Jiten Chakma, and started throwing brickbats at them. Chigonmala died on the spot after a brickbat hit her in the head. Other passengers of the vehicle managed to run away.


Domna Chakma, manager of Baghaichhari Sonali Bank, was injured as the bank came under attack as well.


Two Chittagong Hill Tracts Development Board (CHTDB) staff -- Shantipriyo Chakma, and Mukut Tripura -- were also injured as the settlers attacked them with sharp weapons at CHTDB Rest House, said the OC of Baghaichhari Police Station.


The names of all injured persons could not be known immediately, who were rushed to Khagrachhari Adhunik Hospital.


Witnesses said Border Guard Bangladesh opened blank fire to disperse a mob of Bangalee settlers as they were moving towards Babupara, an indigenous village near Baghaichhari.


Armed with machetes and sticks, a few hundred settlers gathered at Jamtali area on Dighinala-Khagrachhari road. But an army unit stationed there dispersed them.


The settlers brought out processions at Baghaichhari upazila headquarters with Sattar's body and attacked indigenous people there.


The Ansars foiled an attempt of an attack on indigenous students and teachers of Kashalong High School in Baghaichhari, local sources said.


As tension was high in the area, section 144 was imposed by the upazila administration of Baghaichhari at 1:00pm banning gathering of more than 4 persons at public places, said Sajedul Islam, upazila nirbahi officer.


"Situation is now under control," said Masood Ul-Hasan, superintendent of police in Rangamati.


"The overall situation is almost calm." said Md Nurul Alam Chowdhury, additional deputy magistrate of Khagrachhari. The section 144 will be lifted after normalcy returns to the area, he said.