Chittagong Hill Tracts: Human Rights Situation Worsens
On 1 April 2020, the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti released its latest monthly report on the human rights situation of the Jumma people in Chittagong Hill Tracts. The organisation alerts for the growing efforts of the Bangladeshi state to nullify the Accord Implementation Process, thus weakening the movement for the right of self-determination of the Jumma people. Amidst the global fight against coronavirus, the human rights situation in the CHT has only worsened during the reported period and included communal attacks; lang grabbing; religious persecution, arbitrary arrest and torture, house searching; and violence against indigenous women.
The newsletter below was published by Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti
March 2020: Monthly Report on Human Rights Violation Situation in CHT
Amid life-betting war against the coronavirus (COVID-19) and panic across the globe including Bangladesh, paradoxically, the mean drive for nullifying the Accord Implementation Process, weakening the movement for the right of self-determination of the Jumma people and over all to ensure execution of the anti-Accord and anti-Jumma-interest blueprint of the ruling class of Bangladesh is underway without any recess in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). As a part of the whole, the fascist design that has been perpetrated also in March 2020 includes: communal attacks, illegal occupation of lands of the Jumma people, religious persecution, arbitrary arrest and torture, searching houses, providing support and shelter to armed terrorists by the army, violence against indigenous Jumma women, etc.
In CHT, the inhuman perpetration that took place in March 2020 comprises of: 1 Jumma youth injured in a communal attack of the settlers in Matiranga of Khagrachari district; 1 Buddhist temple reduced to ashes by the settlers in Manikchari; 3 held, 4 beaten, houses searched in 7 villages with blank firings for terrifying by the BGB and army personnel; declaration to set up a new camps in Longadu at the sites withdrawn earlier; 4 including 1 student abducted and extorted huge amount of ransom while houses searched, household articles rampaged and several persons beated by the army-backed Reformist terrorists; 2 indigenous Marma adolescent girls fallen prey to sexual assault by the settlers; forcible occupation of Jum lands of the indigenous Jumma people measuring over 1000 acres by one Awami League leader in Naikhyongchari of Bandarban district and so on.
In March 2020, the local people expressed their resentment over Home Minister’s visit of construction work of Rangamati Hill District Border Transit Road and Land Port as the move by-passing the CHT Regional Council and Hill District Councils was considered to have been a direct violation of the Accord.
Epidemic Measles has claimed 9 children dead and at least 350 infected in Sajek Union of Baghaichari Upazila under Rangamati Hill District, in Lama Union of Lama Upazila and Ruma Sadar, Galengya and Taindu Unions of Ruma Upazila and Bandarban Sadar Union under Bandarban Hill District and Merung Union of Dighinala Upazila under Khagrachari Hill District. It is through the death of 9 children and over 350 infected with epidemic measles, a tragic picture has vividly opened out affirming that the indigenous Jumma people living in inaccessible areas are deprived of civic facilities and health services.
Allegation also arises out that even though the Health Department being a subject already been devolved to the Hill District Councils, yet the Deputy Commissioners of the three hill districts have been conducting coronavirus prevention programs without proper coordination with Hill District Councils. It has been also learnt that the CHT Regional Council, which is the apex body of the Special Administrative System in CHT introduced as per CHT Accord, has not been involved in the government move against the pandemic coronavirus.
A Jumma Youth Injured in Communal Attack of Settlers in Guimara
The Muslim Bengali settlers conducted a communal attack upon the Jumma people bringing an allegation of abduction and thereafter killing of one settler motorcycle driver, in Jaliapara areas of Guimara Upazila under Khagrachari Hill District since the morning of 5 March 2020. The attackers seriously injured one Jumma youth named Mongcha Prue Chowdhury and beat up many Jumma villagers irrespectively. The injured Mongcha Prue Chowdhury is an inhabitant of Batnatali village under Manikchari Upazila of Khagrachari Hill District.
It was learnt that the Bengali settlers, having abruptly brought an allegation of abduction and thereafter killing of a motorcycle driver, organized a meeting and rally early in that morning in Matiranga. By deliberation of inciting speech and anti-Jumma slogans, they created incitement against the Jumma people. They set fire in tyres and blocked plying of the vehicles. At certain point, the agitated settlers swooped upon the Jumma passengers and the other Jumma villagers nearby with batons and lethal weapons. The Bengali settlers kept the area gripped under communal tension almostthe whole day. They lifted the road blockade at the intervention of the administration in the evening. As per the news received for the last, the police arrested two persons suspecting to have involved in the abduction of the said motorcycle driver.
One Buddhist Temple set ablazed by the Bengali settlers in Manikchari
An allegation was received stating that the Bengali settlers from the locality adjacent to Tintahuri Union of Manikchari Upazila under Khagrachari Hill district set ablaze one Buddhist temple close to Aungya para. Whereas, though close-by are the BGB and army camps, none of them came up during the incident. It was learnt that the incident claimed the temple properties worth of more that BDT 2 hundred thousand and 2 incumbent Monks injured. It was also learnt that the Bengali settlers had been trying with their attempts to occupy the land of the temple since long ago. Before the incident, intentionally they had picked up squabbles with the abbot of the temple for several occasions and threatened him to vacate the land.
HM’s Visit of CHT Border Road and Land Port sidelining CHT Councils
Home Minister Md. Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal came to inspect the construction work of Sajek-Kamalak Border Transit Road under Sajek Union of Baghaichari Upazila and Thegamukh Land Port of Barkal Upazila both under Rangamati Hill District on 10 March 2020 by-passing the CHT Councils, such as, CHT Regional Council and Hill District Councils – established under the Special Administrative System as conferred by the CHT Accord 1997.
It was learnt that Home Minister Md. Asaduzzaman Kamal Khan arrived at Sajek - the border point of Rangamati Hill District by helicopter at 11:00 AM on that day. After inspecting the camps of BGB and army deployed there, he flew to Barkal at 2:00 PM. It was learnt that during his tour, he visited the Sajek-Kamalak Transit Road – a part of Transit Road Project of three hill districts and Thegamukh Land Port and also visited the construction work of India-Bangladesh Friendship Bridge.
It is noteworthy that during the visit of such delicate and vital project work, along with the Home Minister, no other person ranging from local leader to any representative from CHT Regional Council, Hill District Councils, concerned Circle Chief, Task Force on Rehabilitation of Returnee Refugees & Internally Displaced families, local authority and even from Ministry of CHT Affairs. By that time, his 19-member retinue was comprised of Mostafa Kamal Uddin, Senior Secretary of Home Ministry; Dr. Mohammed Javed Patwari, Inspector General of Police; Major General Mohammad Safinul Islam, Director General of BGB; Major General Kazi Sharif Kaikobad, Director General of Ansar Battalion; Mohammad Benazir Ahmmed, Director General of RAB and high officials of various forces. The formation structure and nature of the Home Minister’s team of entourage may tends to give rise various conjectures.
While completely trampling down the rights, interest and well being of the local Jumma people and violating the CHT Regional Council Act and three Hill District Council Acts, the government and administration have been unilaterally constructing the Sajek-Kamalak Transit Road and Thegamukh Land Port. The government is implementing the project with a great haste brushing aside the probable damage of the local Jumma people. The government took initiative to complete implementation of this project hurriedly instead of giving priority to the implementation of the CHT Accord.
3 Arrested, 4 Beaten Up and Houses Searched by the Army
With a heinous objective of quashing the CHT Accord implementation process, weakening the Jumma movement through ruining the PCJSS leadership and over all, executing the anti-Accord and anti-Jumma-interest blue print, the government in collaboration with specific quarter, the law & order forces and army have been hatching one after another unabated conspiracy involving an effort to color the PCJSS members and indigenous right activists as terrorists, extortionists and miscreants. As a part of the attempt, right in March, 3 were held; 4 were beaten up; houses were searched in 7 villages amid blank firings intended to create panic; declaration of establishing new camps at the sites in Longadu where from camps had been withdrawn earlier; and even there happened an incident of BGB-settlers conflict that left 6 persons dead.
On 2 March, a group of army from Islampur army camp stationed in Nanyachar Upazila of Rangamati Hill district, arrested a public representative named Diganta Chakma (35) son of Hriday Ranjan Chakma of Larma Para village. The arrestee Diganta Chakma is a member of Ward No. 3 of Nanyachar Union Council. It was learnt that the army handed over Diganta Chakma to the police later on. It is to be mentioned that there has been a clash between the Jumma people and Bengali settlers over a construction of houses by occupying the land owned by a Jumma inhabitant followed by filing a case in which Diganta Chakma was shown arrested – as it was learnt.
On 4 March, a team of personnel in civil attire belonging to army and DGFI, an intelligence department, picked up Shobhan Chakma alias Suman, General Secretary of Hill Students Council of Rangamati College Branch, from Kalyanpur road intersection. Shobhan Chakma is a 2nd Year student of higher secondary grade of Rangamati Government College.
On 3 March, the police went to Baishari of Naikhyongchari upazila under Bandarban hill district in search Chinglamong Chak, PCJSS central Land and Agriculture Affairs Secretary. As not finding him in his house, the police told the house inmates that Chinglamong Chak, an accused of the Case filed under 9 sections of Bangladesh Penal Code would have to be produced before the court. Otherwise, the house-hold articles would be confiscated – the police threatened the inmates.
On 3 March, over the issue of cutting down the trees, there has been a clash between the BGB and the settler villagers in Matiranga of Khagrachari hill district during which 6 settlers including a BGB member died. 4 among the dead were members of the same family. The incident took place in Gazinagar area at 11:00 AM. The persons died in the clash were: Constable Shaon, 40 Battalion of BGB of Khedachara Zone, Sahab Mia (Musa), Mohammad Ahmmed Ali (28), Ali Akbar and Mohammad Mofij Mia of the two who were being taken to Chittagong Medical College Hospital. Besides, Hearing the death news of husband and sons, Sahab Mia’s wife, Manju Begum died of stroke instantly.
On 13 March, Chairman of Subalong Union Parishad Tarun Jyoti Chakma was arrested from the jail gate by police and intelligence forces after he was released from the Rangamati jail on high court bail. After his arrest, he was shown arrested in the murder case of Koko Chakma in Subalong. On 7 November 2019, he was arrested by the army from the Rangamati town on charges of grenade attack on Subalong.
On 16 March, personnel of a joint forces from Kutukchari and Ghilachari army camp controlled under 56 EB of Nanyachar army command, without interrogation, mercilessly beat up 3 innocent Jumma villagers in Bhuyadam Gurgujyachari area of Ghilachari Union of Nanyachar Upazila. The victims were identified as Dimpon Chakma (48) s/o Surendra Mohan Chakma; and Morotto Chakma (43) s/o Bharonti Chakma; and Ujjal Chakma (27) s/o Shanti Kumar Chakma. After beating at their fill, the army handed over all of them to the UP member Shubra Chakma with an order to make themselves available at Kutukchari camp by the next morning of 17 March – saying so they left the place. The next day, as the victims were escorted to the camp by Bijalal Chakma of the same village, the camp commander beat up Bijalal Chakma and after scolding in unpronounceable bad languages, released them.
On 19 March at around 11:00 AM. a group of BGB from 37 BGB Rajnagar Zone visited the site of a withdrawn BGB camp in Gulshakhali Shantinagar area of Longadu Upazila. During the visit, the BGB commander told Karbari Nobin Chakma (Village Head) of the area and some other villagers not to erect any sort of permanent establishment as the camp would soon be re-established at the site. At present the site is under process of settlement in the name of Santosh Chakma, an inhabitant of Gulshakhali Mouza and it has been being preserved socially as a football ground.
On 19 March, an army troop arrived at a shop in Hugeyatali Tanchangya Para under Bandarban sadar upazila and sprayed fire sporadically here and there and afterward they called the villagers and scolded for nothing before leaving the place. By that time, the army patrolled Jamchari Bhitor Para, Kenaijupara, Golachipa and Hebron Para. Some times after departure of the army troop, fire broke out engulfing all the shops of Hugeyatali. At this, along with 8-10 shops, some other houses were also got ablazed. In gaps of army patrolling, armed terrorists of the Arakan Liberation Party (ALP) are noticed moving. The local people guess that the army blank fire might have been a sort of assistance to the ALP.
On 29 March, around 2:00 PM the army personnel held one motorcyclist named Uttam Tanchangya (23), son-in-law of Karbari of Chinkyang Para – in the area – a boundary point of Rajasthali and Rowangchari Upazilas.
At midnight of 21-22 March, a 32-member group of army led by Major Saleh of Jurachari Army Zone under Rangamati hill district conducted a search operation in Amtala and Thachipara via Shalbagan of Jurachari Upazila. Another army group numbering 18-19 commanded by Subedar Mohibul Haque marched from Shilchari army camp and joined the operation – as it was known.
On March 22, a group of army patrolled the Dhulyatali area of Jibtoli Union under Rangamati Sadar upazila. Immediately after arriving at Dhulyatali village, the army searched 5 houses of village without saying anything. During this time, the army ransacked the furniture of the houses. The owners of the houses searched were Sunil Chakma (52), s/o late Nalini Mohan Chakma; Rabin Chakma (65), s/o late Nalini Mohan Chakma; Subhasish Chakma (42), s/o Sindhu Lal Chakma, Royal Chakma (35), s/o Smriti Bhushan Chakma and Babul Talukder (38), s/o Porti Mohan Talukder.
4 kidnapped and some beaten up by army-backed Reformist group
With a mean view to flow the CHT situation to different course, the quarters of the ruling party, has kept its ill design unpaused by providing support and assistance to the Reformist group and ALP armed terrorists using them against the PCJSS and by them, being carried out killings, terrorization, extortion and kidnapping in various places in CHT. As a part of the modus operandi, in March 2020, the Reformist terrorists kidnapped 4 persons including 1 student and extracted ransom, searched several houses, vandalized the household articles and beat up some of the villagers.
At around 11:30 PM on 1 March, a reformist terrorist group led by Porandhan Chakma surrounded the house of Priya Chakma (60) son of Dayalal Chakma of Godapara under Moghban Union of Rangamati Sadar Upazila. As finding nobody inside the house, they rampaged the household articles and went away.
On 2 March, a group of Reformist armed terrorists led by Amar Dhan Chakma alias Ronel and Palash Chakma kidnapped one Rajib Kanti Chakma (31), an inhabitant of Digholchari village of Aimachara Union under Barkal Upazila of Rangamati Hill District, from Harikkhyong Mukh near Subalong Bazaar. He was released later in lieu of ransom.
On 10 March, the armed Reformist terrorists kidnapped one HSC standard candidate named Arpon Chakma at gun point from Jamtali Bridge of Dighinala Upazila under Khagrachari hill district. Later, the terrorists released the victim following settlement of BDT 6 lac in ransom through negotiation of close relatives on 14 March. Along with, the army-backed terrorists also had snatched away BDT 65 thousand lying with Arpon Chakma.
Towards the evening on 12 March, an innocent villager named Mangal Kumar Chakma (50) son of Nalini Ranjan Chakma was kidnapped by the Reformist terrorists from Munigram area of Bhaibonchhara Union under Khagrachari Sadar Upazila of Khagrachari hill district. It was learnt that Mangal Kumar Chakma was kidnapped by the Reformist terrorists led by Dipon Alo Chakma from the adjacent village, Dewan Para. The area inhabitants are to say that the Reformist terrorists, since long, have been conducting the terrorist activities of kidnapping people and extracting ransom, extortion and various other misdeeds under the sky while still staying in Dewan Para. But instead of stepping measures against, on contrary, the administration provides assistance to the Reformist terrorists. Consequently, the inhabitants are under compulsion to pass their days amid lack of security.
In the morning of 14 March, a group of Reformist terrorists riding on motorbike started from Bangalhalia of Rajasthali Upazila under Rangamati hill district attacked the Kangarachari village and beat the people irrespectively. The terrorists reportedly snatched away 4/5 cell phones from the villagers while leaving the village.
On 19 March at noon, Babuchara Natun Bazar under Dighinala Upazila in Khagrachari district was surrounded by a group of reformist faction at gun point. Shortly before that, a group of army patrolled the north side of the Babuchara Natun Bazar. At this time, the reformist terrorists ordered some Jumma families to leave the Babuchara area and move to the neighboring country. Since then, they started to collect money forcefully from people of each village of the area.
Around 10:00 PM on 20 March 2020, one Kalaiya Chakma (29) son of Kamdeb Chakma of Boalchari village under Bandukbhanga Union of Rangamati Sadar Upazila was kidnapped.
On the evening of 27 March, reformist group opened blank fire at the place of Mandir Mura on the west side of Maine and Babuchara old bazar with a view reportedly to creating panic. It has been reported that the armed members of the Reformist faction are staying in the house of a settler named Md. Malek in the settler village adjacent to the Babuchara Bazar.
2 Jumma Adolescent girls fallen prey to violation
On 3 March, a Marma girl (15) was attempted to rape by Md. Rakib Islam (19) in Kaintarmukh Para area under Rowangchari Sadar Union of Rowangchari Upazila under Bandarban Hill District. Almost 2 days later of the incident, the police arrested the accused Md. Rakib Islam from KainterMukh Para at noon time of 6 March. Later on, the incident was settled under the court of social arbitration led by the Karbari (Village Head) concerned with a penalty of BDT 40,000 from the accused.
On 4 March, an indigenous Marma adolescent girl aged 15 fell prey to raping committed by a Muslim Bengali settler named Md. Abdul Mannan (21) alias Manu Mia in Ramgarh Union of Ramgarh Upazila under Khagrachari Hill District. It was learnt that the mother of raped victim lodged a case with the Ramgarh Police Station at night on 5 March. Afterward, the victim was sent to the Khagrachari Hospital for medical test on 6 March. It was learnt that preliminary, clues of rape including strife in the neck were detected. But the police could not arrest the accused Manu Mia till drafting of this report.
Thousand acres of lands occupied by an AL leader on plea of Tourism
The inhabitants have raised an allegation of illegal occupation of lands measuring some 1000 thousand acres by Md. Shafiullah, Chairman Naikhyongchari Upazila Parishad and also President of Naikhyongchari Upazila Awami League Branch on plea of tourism. It has been learnt that the mass of lands is lands for Jum-cultivation and falls under category of mouza lands.
An investigation reveals that on plea of tourism, the Jum-cultivation lands measuring some 1000 acres have been taken away under illegal occupation covering some 100 acres in No. 270 Naikhyongchari Mouza, 350 acres in No. 272 Jaruliachari Mouza and 550 acres in No. 269 Sonaichari Mouza. Jum cultivation in the said lands is practiced as the sole livelihood earning by the indigenous Jumma peoples living of 30 families in Jumkhola Para, 80 families in Kyakrop Para, 110 families in Khyawng Para, 90 families in Lamar Para and 50 families in Singthuai Para. All of them belong to the Chak and Marma indigenous communities. The indigenous communities living therein informed that they have been living there on Jum cultivation while combating with the fierce wild animals since the ages together.
The said Awami League leader began to encroach the lands of indigenous people gradually since February 2018. It is seen during the investigation, distance from that tourist spot of Sonaichari to Naikhyongchari proper is 8 kilometers. A dam has been constructed by cutting the foothills of both sides of the stream with dredger. Size of the dam has been made larger for commuting facilities. Hills are being cut and flattened to make the road wider.
Meanwhile, 8 kilometers mud road has been made by flattening 15 hills while destroying the natural environment prevailing there. The streamlet is being filled up to construct the dam. Though cutting hill is illegal but it is by might of power, the Awami League leader is getting all these legalized without obtaining any permission from the authority – alleged by the native people. The areas are being occupied by way of showing intimidation and allurement of employment in the tourism complex. Several hundreds of poor indigenous families are all set to face food crisis for not being able to cultivate their Jumming lands. Besides, they do not have any other alternative earning source for dependable livelihood. Alongside, it is feared that the livelihood of several hundred indigenous families will be under threat.
It is further known that some more mud roads were made by cutting the hills last year. From amongst the 15 hills flattened for travelling of the tourists, 4 were size-wisely very large. Many fruit gardens grown by the indigenous people by employing relentless tilling, have also gone under illegal occupation – even rubber plantations of some other Jumma cultivators have also gone under such occupation. A project worth of BDT 12 million was given approval from the Bandarban Hill District Council for construction of roads and dam in those illegally occupied areas. The money of the approved project was released in the last fiscal year. With the said amount, it is to cover the expenses for construction of 40 meters long dam and 2 Van-Box culverts. People of the affected area submitted application to the administration alleging against the Chairman Md. Shafiullah’s illegal occupation of lands. But no administrative action has been taken against him for being a leader of the ruling party.
On the other side, also in the dense forest of Dochari Union under Naikhyongchari Upazila, the land robbers, having occupied the lands, are cutting trees and bamboos irrespectively and extracting the forest resources away. It is leant that the land robbers having occupied hundred acres of lands belonging to the indigenous Tripura community are denuding the forest for permanent settlement in their names. They are trafficking all those forest resources outside CHT while the remaining portion is being burnt to ashes. The livelihood earning of local indigenous Jumma villagers comprises of bamboos, broom plants and trees including collection of various forest resources and Jum cultivation in the hill slopes. The outsider land robbers are trying to destroy their income sources. This trend is regarded to be a danger signal to the lifestyle and livelihood of the indigenous people and to the very existence of the wild elephants and other species in the forest.
CHT under measles outbreak: 350 children infected, 9 died
While the world faces tremendous attack of coronavirus (COVID-19), there has appeared news headlining sudden outbreak of measles spreading in Sajek Union of Baghaichari Upazila of Rangamati Hill District, in Lama Union of Lama Upazila Sadar, in Ruma Sara, Galengya and Taindu Union of Ruma Upazila and in Bandarbar Sadar Union under Bandarban Hill District and in the remote rural areas of Merung Union of Dighinal Upazila under Khagrachari hill district. The epidemic has stunned all the concerned when the statistics revealed the data stating 350 infected and 9 children dead within only one month. This has given rise to a grave concern. In fact, this incident extols a pitiful picture of the indigenous people living in inaccessible areas amid total exclusion from receiving civic amenities and healthcare services.
Sajek: In Sajek Union of Baghaichari Upazila under Rangamati hill district, alone in 6 villages at least 250 villagers got infected with measles. Of them, the lion portion is children. Yet more inaccessible village is Arun Para of Tuichui Mauza where the children infected the most. Only within an month, 7 children died. The children died in Arun Para village are: (i) Sagorika Tripura (11) d/o Sujan Tripura on 26 February; (ii) Dinesh Tripura Bishon (2.6) s/o Mahendra Tripura on 15 March; (iii) Rujina Tripura (3.6), s/o Monar Mohan Tripura on 16 March; (iv) KahenTripura (3), s/o Bibaran Tripura on 17 March; (v) Rakesh Tripura (2), s/o Krishna Mohan Tripura on 17 March; (vi) Debi Tripura, d/o Kesh Mohan Tripura on 17 March and (vii) Gorati Tripura (9) on 23 March.
The other infected villages are: Lungthian Para, Tarun Para, Kamalapur Chakma Para, Newthang or Notun Para, Haichya Para, etc. Besides, it has been learnt that of the infected, 100 children and 7 to 8 aged persons are in critical condition. The inhabitants are to allege that their children have never been vaccinated and they have never received any government healthcare services. They informed that no government physician visits their villages for being remote rural areas.
It is to be mentioned that the villagers, especially, the children have to remain in extreme under nourishment due to ill-shape of socio-economic situation and lack of government-non-government extended healthcare services. Further to be mentioned that in that area 7 had died of water-borne diseases in May 2015.
Lama: It happened that almost at the same time, a Mro child aged 4 months died and 42 more were infected of whom 22 are children, due to outbreak of measles in Lalya Para of Lama Sadar Union under Lama Upazila of Bandarban hill district – village mostly populated by the Mro community. It was learnt that 31 children and 2 tender-aged patients of Lalya Para village were taken to Lama Health Complex by truck and hospitalized there on 16 March.
It has been learnt that 2 to 3 children were the first to have infected with measles only 2 weeks ago. Afterward, the disease got spread speedily in the village. The sufferer villagers firstly went to the local pharmacies and health workers to seek counselling but the health workers told them that it was an ‘unknown disease.’ It is learnt that including the Lalya Para, there are many remote areas where the government healthcare services do not reach at all.
Ruma: Since 16 March six Marma children from Ruma Sadar, Galengya and Taindu Unions of Ruma upazila and Sadar Union of Bandarban sadar upazila were admitted to Ruma Health Centre due to suffering from measles. It has been learnt that 5 children have returned to their home after recovering. However, one child was referred to Bandarban sadar hospital for better treatment.
The 6 children infested with measles identified as (1) U Mong Marma, 7 years, s/o Shoila Prue Marma, Asrompara, Ruma Sadar was admitted on 16 March and released on 19 March; (2) Dochingnu Marma, 9 month old, s/o Thowaiching Marma, Kiouabua Para, Ruma Sadar Union was admitted on 17 March and released on 21 March; (3) Dochoi Marma, 16 month old, s/o Joly Mong Marma, Panthola Para, Galengya Union was admitted on 17 March and released on 21 March; (4) Uhaiching Marma, 6 year old, s/o Chonu Marma, Polyprangsha Para, Taindu Union was admitted on 18 March and released on 23 March; (5) Suiching Mong Marma, 3 year old, s/o Mongtu Marma, Longjuri Para, Bandarban Sadar Union was admitted on 19 March and released on 22 March; and (6) Suimeching Marma, 4 year old, s/o Pruecha Aung Marma, Mongprue Para, Bandarban Sadar Union was admitted on 22 March. Later on 24 March, he was referred to Bandarban Sadar hospital for better treatment. But it is not known whether he was taken to Bandarban hospital.
Dighinala: Dhanika Tripura (9), daughter of Omi RanjanTripura, of Rathindra Karbari Para – a Tripura dominated village under Merung Union of Dighinala Upazila, died of measles infection in the afternoon on 28 March. Dhanika Tripura was a student of Class-III in the local non-government primary school. Besides, one child named Panthoi Tripura (9) was admitted to Dighinala Health Complex in critical condition on 29 March. It is learnt through local sources that more than 50 children are infected with measles in that village. Of them, most patients are below 10 years of age.
Coronavirus: 159 in Home Quarantine in CHT, no adequate preparation to combat with
At present, the whole world is battling with a killer coronavirus. Patients infected with coronavirus have been identified in 199 countries. It is being learnt that 2 patients are dying per minute. In Bangladesh, the first declaration on identification of patients infected with coronavirus came out on 8 March 2020. As of this day, the number of infected patients reads 49 and 5 patients died.
Till 31 March, no corona infected case has been identified in CHT. But 159 numbers of expatriates have been being kept under home quarantine surveillance. On the other hand, it has been learnt from various sources about return of 522 expatriates in the three hill districts.
On 25 March, one 30 year old indigenous Jumma youth with corona-like symptoms died in isolation ward of Khagrachari Sadar Hospital. He was an inhabitant of Nunchari village under Mahalchari Upazila of Khagrachari hill district. It is learnt that the youth had been suffering from respiratory disorder since long. He had received hospital treatment earlier. Following the death of the youth, 5 hospital staff including the two physicians who came in contact with, have been put to quarantine.
Steps such as conscious arousal measures and articulation, closure of haat-bazaars and transportation, lock down keeping pace with country-wide observation, establishment of quarantine and isolation centers, etc. All the tourism and entertainment centers in all the three hill districts have been declared closed till the further directive. But there is an allegation that as yet there is no proper preparation with equipment for identifying corona virus, personal protection equipment and treatment measures in the three hill districts. Consequently, there has arisen a fear, if the coronavirus infection gets erupted, it will take formidable form in the hills.
It is notable that though the Health Department is a subject already been devolved to the Hill District Councils, yet the Deputy Commissioners, in prevention of corona infection in the three hill districts have been allegedly doing away unilaterally with the programs, such as, closing the trade centers and bazaars, transports, lockdown, imposition of embargo upon tourism, conscious building activities, etc. without coordination. On the other hand, the CHT Regional Council, despite being the apex body of special administrative system of CHT, it has not been involved in the government action programs against the coronavirus.
As the government has declared holidays up to 4 April, closure of all educational institutions and over all, in fear of coronavirus infection, many Jumma people who are in government and non-government services and studies in various cities of the country including Dhaka, are getting back to their homes in CHT.
The indigenous Mro community has declared lock down following the traditional indigenous way in 20 villages situated on the east and west of Chimbuk hills, 30 villages on the east of Bandarban town and 17 villages under Tankaboti Union under Bandarban Sadar Upazila and most of the villages fall under jurisdiction of Alikadam, Ruma and Lama Upazilas in Bandarban hill district. Of the villages, the villagers of Mroleng Para, Noa Para, Basanta Para, Kramadi Para, have erected bamboo fence surrounding their villages and hung notice boards at the gates prohibiting entrance of the strangers. In order to keep safe themselves, they have declared lock down and closed the Entrance Gates for an indefinite period of time.
Photo by Mahmud Hossain Opu/Al Jazeera