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Monday, February 22, 2010

Ethnic people rally for justice

Source: The Daily star

Seek JS probe into violence in hills; Bangalee settlers blame indigenous community for unrest; anti-peace outfit to enforce road, waterway blockade today

Police intercept a procession of Pahari Chhatra Parishad in front of the High Court in the city yesterday as the agitators were heading towards the Secretariat to hand over a memorandum to the home minister. Photo: STAR

Tension ran high in Rangamati and Khagrachhari as indigenous people and Bangalee settlers brought out processions and held rallies yesterday blaming each other for Saturday's violence that claimed two lives at a Rangamati village.

Around 7,000 indigenous people, led by Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity (PCJSS) leaders, marched in procession to the Rangamati deputy commissioner's office and submitted a memorandum to the premier through the DC demanding parliamentary enquiry into the incidents.

Their other demands include publication of an accurate report on the incidents after a probe by a parliamentary enquiry committee, arrest of the culprits and their exemplary punishment, providing treatment to the injured, compensation to the affected indigenous people, withdrawal of army from Baghaihat, removal of cluster villages of settlers from Baghaihat and scrapping of "Operation Uttaran" in the CHT.

Meanwhile, the Upazila Nirbahi Officer of Baghaichhari, Humayun Kabir was withdrawn yesterday allegedly for his controversial role in Saturday's incident. Bashirul Haq Bhuiyan, senior assistant commissioner of Shariatpur, will replace him.

Parbatya Bhikkhu Sangha Bangladesh, a body of Buddhist monks in CHT, also submitted a memorandum to the prime minister through the Rangamati deputy commissioner protesting the Baghaihat incident.

Samo Odhikar Andolan and Parbatya Bangalee Chhatra Parishad (PBCP) brought procession and held protest rallies in the town blaming indigenous people for the arson attacks on Friday and Saturday.

They claimed that indigenous people first set the settlers' houses on fire.

In Khagrachhari, indigenous people under the banner of United Peoples Democratic Front (UPDF) hoisted black-flags at several places in eight upazilas protesting the Baghaichhari incidents.

The UPDF, which opposes the peace accord, called a daylong road and waterway blockade in Khagrachhari and Rangamati today. It will also hold a candle-lit vigil on February 24 and a protest rally on February 26.

The organisation urged indigenous students to boycott classes on Thursday in all educational institutions in CHT to protest the incident.

The UPDF held a rally at Swanirbhar Bazar with its district coordinator Ujjal Smrity Chakma in the chair. Organising secretary of central committee of Hill Women Federation Rina Dewan and Pahari Chhatra Parishad secretary Aprushi Marma also spoke.

The PCJSS leaders at the rally in Rangamati blamed Bangalee settlers for arson attacks and violence in nine Baghaichhari villages and alleged that army abetted the settlers.

They said the incident would have never happened if the army had played a neutral role. Army men shot the indigenous people and instigated settlers to set fire to the houses of indigenous people.

The PCJSS leaders also demanded punishment of Lt Col Wasim, zone commander of Baghaihat zone, saying army men opened fire on indigenous people in his presence.

They said the main reason of unrest in the hill region is the army and peace will prevail there if they are withdrawn.

The PCJSS leaders demanded suspension of "Operation Uttaran" by the army, immediate withdrawal of army men from Baghaihat and deployment of additional police forces instead at Baghaihat to restore peace and communal harmony between indigenous people and Bangalees.

The rally was presided over by PCJSS Vice President Laxmi Prasad Chakma.

General secretary of CHT Mohila Samity Suprova Chakma, PCJSS information and publicity secretary Sajeeb Chakma, its district unit secretary Bodhi Satta Chakma and Pahari Chhatra Parishad president Udayan Tripura also spoke.

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