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8 March, 2019 11:36:07 PM / LAST MODIFIED: 9 March, 2019 11:20:24 AM
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Special drives continue in CHT to seize illegal arms

DEEPAK ACHARJEE, Dhaka
Special drives continue in CHT to seize illegal arms

Law enforcement agencies are conducting special drives in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, as they have not been able to seize illegal arms from local criminal gangs, which are often used in clashes between rival factions in the region. Superintendent of Police in Khagrachari Md Ahmar Uzzaman told The Independent that joint forces, comprising the Army, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and the police, are conducting now raids frequently, but are facing difficulty in seizing arms from the ‘criminals’, who are hiding those in remote areas.

Md. Ahmar Uzzaman says they have deployed more forces in some vulnerable areas in the hills and the activities of some hill people are under stepped-up surveillance in view of the coming upazila elections in these areas. “We’re trying to stop the bloody

battle among members of political parties, but they are hiding in different areas,” he said.

It has been alleged that some members of local political parties — Parbattya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti (PCJSS), PCJSS (reformist), the United People's Democratic Front (UPDF) and UPDF Democratic — are involved in procuring arms and ammunition smuggled from neighbouring countries.

As they have been trying to establish supremacy in their respective areas, they are engaged in fierce fighting among themselves with the help of illegal arms, causing endless bloodshed.

According to local law enforcement agencies, at least 1,085 people have been killed since the CHT Peace Accord was signed in 1997.

Talking to this correspondent, a senior Army officer said some members of political parties were trying to earn money illegally through extortion from locals and businessmen, and establishing their supremacy by procuring arms and ammunition through smuggling.

“We’ve that heard a number of leaders from the local political parties are using their cadre to raise funds in the name of political activities. Most of these leaders aren’t involved in politics for political ideology, but are doing politics just to earn a quick buck,” he said.

“Small-time leaders and followers of the local leaders are involved in fighting and getting killed while their bosses live in Dhaka. Some even live abroad,” he added.

Activists of the local parties keep  the arms in their possession and commit crimes in their respective areas to establish supremacy, he said.

According to law enforcement agencies, a number of foreign-made sophisticated and modern arms have been seized from local terrorists. Sophisticated weapons such as MG, AK-22 automatic rifles, G-3 rifles, MK-11 rifles, AK-47, AK-56, and M-16 rifles have been seized from some members of the local political parties.

When contacted, Minister of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs, Bir Bahadur Ushwe Singh, told this correspondent that some members of the local parties

were involved in criminal activities, like collecting money from farmers and businessmen. They even collected money from private and government employees, he said.

“They are also involved in arms smuggling and kidnapping people. We have asked law enforcement agencies to start a special operation in the hills to arrest those involved in criminal activities and seize all smuggled arms soon,” he added.

The Chittagong Hill Tracts, spread over 5,093 square miles, cover Rangamati, Khagrachhari and Bandarban districts. The region is flanked by two international borders — in the south-east by Myanmar, and in the north by India. The region is populated by the Jumma and other tribes, including the Chakmas, Marmas, Garos, Mizos and the Tripuras.

According to local residents, a group of Chakmas has taken the initiative to form “Chakma Land” by setting up regional parties like the Parbattya Janasanghati Samiti.

In 1973, the Shanti Bahini, the armed wing of the Janasanghati Samiti, had hatched a plot to establish a “Chamatri” state (Chakma, Marma, Tripura state). The plan was later shelved in the face of stiff opposition in the 1980s.

Later, a movement was launched to establish “Jhumma Land”, which is not yet resolved. At present, people of the CHT constitute approximately 0.5 per cent of the country’s total population. The population density is about 113 persons per square kilometre, against 1,147 persons per square kilometre of the country. There are 13 ethnic minorities in the CHT, with the Chakmas, constituting 24.72 per cent of the total population.


IK

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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