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Seven Murder In Rangamati

Killers still elude cop scanner

7-man probe body formed

Published : Wednesday, 20 March, 2019 at 12:00 AM  Count : 646

Law enforcers have failed to identify who were behind the killing of seven people in Bagaichhari upazila of Rangamati on Monday. Conflicts among different groups in Chattogram Hill Tracts have led to the deaths, it is widely believed. Meanwhile, no group has claimed responsibility for the deaths as yet. Three election officials were among seven shot dead in Rangamati, the first such incident in which government officials were killed since the signing of the CHT Peace Accord in 1997. Earlier, various insurgent groups and their multiple factions were involved in killings of law enforcers including army personnel in the region.

Sources at the local intelligence and law enforcement agencies said around 53 people belonging to different ethnic minority groups were killed, 46 others injured and 78 were abducted by militant terrorist groups in the three hill districts in the last 15 months till March 18. Besides, 20 Bengalis were killed, 25 injured and 12 abducted by the terrorists during the period. At least 1,000 people including law enforcers were killed in 20 years in bloody conflict, along with numerous abductions and assaults.

The CHT Peace Accord was signed between the government and the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) on December 2 in 1997 during the first tenure of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, ending bloody conflicts in three hill districts.

A group of ethnic minority people, led by Prasit Bikash Khisa, formed the United People's Democratic Front (UPDF) in 1998 opposing the peace accord. The PCJSS also saw a split as some left the organization in 2007 and formed PCJSS (Reformists), led by Sudha Sindho Khisa, while an armed group of the UPDF also parted way by forming the UPDF (Democratic), led by Tapan Jyoti Chakma (alias Borma and Jalwa) on November 15 in 2017.

The militant groups have allegedly been engaged in various crimes, including extortion, kidnapping and killing, in the hilly regions. Sometimes they lock in clashes among themselves which claim lives of both the ethnic people and Bengali people, hampering development activities in the region.
Law enforcement agencies have been unable to nab the key players behind such criminal activities. After each incident, the political parties blame each other.

Rangamati Superintendent of Police Alamgir Kabir said, "The armed regional ethnic organizations are locking horns over establishing dominance in the areas, leaving many casualties and deaths." "We are collecting information about the people who are behind such anarchy and conducting drives to arrest them as soon as possible," he said.

Several security officials seeking anonymity told the Daily Observer that the local groups were locked in a conflict over the massive amounts of earnings from extortion done in the region, which was the main reason behind all the attacks, kidnappings and killings. The frequent abductions of ethnic people and Bangalis are also a big source of income. Locals said they were afraid of informing authorities for fear of retaliation.

While the UPDF, a breakaway group, still denounces the treaty and seeks full autonomy for the region, it proclaims to do so democratically.  Locals said they were forced to maintain good relations with all parties to stay safe. There are even reported incidents of abduction and rape of indigenous women by rival groups.

An Awami League leader in Rangamati said they were being held hostage by the armed groups.  He said, "People from the minority communities are more vulnerable than Bangalis and they are afraid to move at night."
Several Awami League leaders from ethnic communities said that they were frequently threatened to quit politics. Some were abducted several times and released in exchange for massive amounts of money. Meanwhile, a seven member committee has been constituted to probe into the killings in Baghaichhari Upazila.

The Divisional Commissioner of Chattogram M Abdul Mannan has formed the committee on Tuesday. Deepak Chakraborthy, Director of LGRD will lead the committee, while Additional Deputy Magistrate of Rangamati will act as member Secretary. The other members are Additional DIG of Chattogram Range, one BGB personnel of the rank of Major, Official of Rangamati Development Board of the rank of Joint Secretary and representatives of Rangamati Zilla Parishad and Ansar-VDP. The committee has been directed to submit their report within ten days.

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