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20 March, 2019 00:00 00 AM
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JSS, UPDF blamed for violence

DEEPAK ACHARJEE, Dhaka

Law enforcement and intelligence agencies have blamed two local political groups for the violence in Rangamati, that left eight people dead  and 13 others injured in two days.  An upazila unit Awami League president was among those killed. The United People’s Democratic Front (UPDF) and Parbatya Chattogram Janasanghati Samiti (PCJSS)-Santu, however, denied allegations of their links to the incidents, saying those were related to Monday’s Upazila Parishad elections. Law enforcement and intelligence agencies held the parties responsible following their investigation into the incidents.

In the name of election violence, the two rebel groups of the PCJSS (reformist) had committed the incidents to establish supremacy in the areas in Rangamati, sources in law enforcement and intelligence agencies told The Independent. In this context, security experts have advised the authorities to establish security camps permanently in some vulnerable areas in the hills to avoid any untoward incident in future.

Talking to The Independent over telephone, spokesman of the UPDF, Michel Chakma, said they were not involved in the Rangamati incidents. A rebel group may have been responsible for the violence.

“We can say the Rangamati incidents are election violence. The incidents may not have happened had the authorities held the Upazila elections peacefully,” he said.

The superintendent of police (SP) of Rangamati district, M Alamgir Kabir, told The Independent that rebel groups of the local parties might have committed the incidents after losing the upazila election, as per preliminary investigation. “We are trying to arrest the real culprits by conducting special drives with the joint force comprising the Army, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and the police from Monday night,” he said.

The SP also said the authorities should take steps to deploy forces permanently in some areas of the hill tracts to ensure security.

“A section of members of the local political parties were depositing huge quantities of arms and ammunition, smuggled from neighbouring countries,” M Alamgir Kabir said.

“It is difficult to ensure security of the hilly people through the police force, as most of the areas are remote and hilly,” he added.

When contacted, security expert Major General Md Abdur Rashid (Rtd.), also executive director of the Institute of Conflict, Law and Development Studies (ICLDS), told this correspondent that the Chottogram Hill Tracts has become a valley of death amid hostilities among the local groups.

“We have to think seriously to ensure security of the people, both Bangalees and hilly. And that’s why, permanent security-camps, comprising Army personnel and members of law enforcement agencies, have to be established in the hills as soon as possible,” he advised.

Intelligence sources said there are only 211 Army camps, out of a total of 550, in the three hill districts now.

Twenty-one years after signing of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Peace Accord, the local political groups, especially the United People's Democratic Front (UPDF), have grabbed some 23 out of a total of 240 army camps from where troops have been withdrawn.

In the name of establishing places of worship like Buddhist and Hindu temples, the UPDF and the Parbattya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti (PCJSS) are grabbing abandoned Army camps to conduct their activities and monitoring the activities of local law enforcement agencies, with a view to committing various criminal activities in the hills, the sources added.

On Monday, seven people, including an assistant presiding officer, were killed and a presiding officer was among 13 injured in a gun attack on a vehicle carrying election officials and law enforcers in Baghaichhari upazila.

The next day, president of the Awami League’s upazila wing in Bilaichhari, Suresh Kanti Tanchangya, was shot dead by unidentified criminals in Rangamati district.

Sources in the law enforcement agencies said a long-running battle for supremacy among the four local groups has turned the CHT- Khagrachhari, Bandarban and Rangamati hills into killing fields.

At least 41 leaders and activists of the four rival groups — the United People’s Democratic Front (UPDF), UPDF Democratic, Parbatya Chattagram Janasanghati Samiti (PCJSS)-Santu and the PCJSS (reformist) — have been killed in the last one year.

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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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