Sep 27, 2012

Chittagong Hill Tracts: Peace Procession Shows Unity

A peaceful march was organised as a response to clashes last week between Bangalee settlers and indigenous people.

Below is an article published by The Daily Star:

The pall of gloom over the hill district of Rangamati has begun to fade away following a peace procession of hundreds of Bangalee settlers and indigenous people yesterday [ 25 September 2012].

Organised by the district administration, the procession started from Rangamati municipality office and ended at the deputy commissioner's office.

Over a thousand residents of the district took part in the rally and vowed to uproot all sorts of troublemakers from the hilly region.

On Saturday morning [22 September 2012], a clash over a trivial matter between indigenous community and Bangalee settlers left at least 20 people injured in Rangamati town. The administration in a bid to calm the situation down imposed section 144 in the town from 11:00am that day.

The ban on assembly was lifted Monday evening [24 September 2012].

“We have to make sure it [Saturday's violence] does not happen again. No matter who is Bangalee or indigenous, the innocent suffer the most in such incidents,” said Nirumoi Chakma, a private service holder who attended yesterday's procession.

Another participant Nurul Afsar, who runs a school in Rangamati for physically disabled children, said, “We, the indigenous and Bangalee people, want to coexist peacefully. The administration should identify the troublemakers and ensure punishment to them.”

A special review meeting on law and order was held at the deputy commissioner's office after the procession. State Minister for Chittagong Hill Tract Affairs Dipankar Talukder, Chakma Raja Debashish Roy, Rangamati region commander of army Brig Gen Sarwar Hossain, chairman of Rangamati Hill District Council Nikhil Kumar Chakma were present there, among others.

The decisions in the meeting include forming of Sampreeti [Amity] Committees in every ward with leaders of all communities, increasing people-to-people interaction, setting up of police boxes at the entry points of Rangamati Govt College and Sadar Hospital, ensuring uniform and identity cards for college students, and continuing ban on bringing out processions on the college campus.

At the meeting, State Minister Dipankar Talukder said peace would prevail in the hills once gunrunning and extortion were stopped there. Illegal toll collection by armed goons creates disturbance to and destabilises the peaceful situation in the hills, he added.

He urged all to keep from criminal activities and work together to ensure a peaceful coexistence of indigenous and Bangalee people. The state minister also requested the authorities concerned to beef up intelligence activities in the town.