Bengali settlers backed by security forces attack indigenous people in Ramgarh
On 17 April 2011 Bengali Muslim settlers backed by Bangladesh army attacked 5 indigenous Buddhist villages in Ramgarh and 2 indigenous villages in Manikchari in Chittagong Hill Tracts. In this attack around 200 indigenous houses including 2 Buddhist temples were completely burnt to ashes. At least 20 indigenous people including 3 women were injured and at least half dozen indigenous people were still missing. The indigenous people had fled to the jungle in the face of Muslim attack.
Background of the attack:
Muslim settlers led by Mohamed Joynal, had been trying to occupy 15 acres of indigenous land belonging to Ruihla Aung Marma son of Pija Aung Marma at Hatimura area of Hafchari union under Ramgarh in Khagrachari district. While most of the indigenous people were engaged in enjoying the traditional Bizu or Sangrai festival, the Muslim settlers led by Mohamed Joynal started occupying indigenous owned land. The indigenous owners of the land requested the Muslims settlers to stop the occupation. The indigenous people informed the matter to the local authorities including the Bangladesh army authority. But it was in vain.
Summary of attack:
On 17 April 2011 in the morning around 10 a.m. the Muslim settlers started clearing forest of the hillock and begun planting banana saplings. The indigenous people lodged protest but the Muslim settlers did not heed them. About midday the indigenous people attacked the Muslim settlers when they were sitting idle after lunch. Consequently 5 Muslim settlers were precariously injured among whom 3 died on the way to hospital. They were identified as Ayub Ali (38) of Kochubhante area, Noab Ali (60) and Sunil Sarker of Boro Pilak village.
As a repercussion to it, the Muslim settlers under the protection of the Bangladesh army attacked indigenous people of Shankhola Para, Toikarma Para, Reemaram Para, Suludong Para and Pathachara villages of Hafchari union under Ramgarh upazila. The houses of the indigenous people were looted and set ablaze. Though Bangladesh army was patrolling through out the area, the army did not prevent the Muslim settlers from setting fire on indigenous houses. The army kept patrolling along the road sides and the Muslim settlers started setting fire on indigenou villages. In this attack, around 100 houses including one Buddhist temple at Shankhola Para were completely burnt down, 15 houses at Toikarma Para, 15 houses at Reemaram Para, 25 houses at Suludong Para and 16 houses at Pathachara were set on fire.
At Jaliapara, the Muslim settlers stopped every vehicle and looked for indigenous people. Senior government official Jyoti Ranjan Chakma was taken off a bus and severely beaten up. At least 10 indigenous people including 2 women were wounded in this attack. The victims were identified as Ms. Mithu Marma (13) daughter of Mehla Prue Marma of Battali village of Guimara area and Ms. Paikra Marma (50) wife of Mongsa Marma of Bazaar Chowdhury Para of Joutha Khamar area of Ramgarh. Mithu Marma was admitted with serous inury at Manikchari hospital.
Around 6.00 pm Muslim settlers brought out a procession at Manikchari bazaar shouting slogans against the indigenous people along with dead body of a Muslim settler. The military and civil administration did not prevent the Muslim settlers while they were bringing out procession with the dead body. Rather, local administration played passive role so that Muslim settlers became agitated and sentimental. No sooner of ending the procession, the Muslim settlers set fire on indigenous houses at Mahamani areas of Manikchari upazila headquarter. At least 15 indigenous houses of Kyajai Karbari Para were burnt down and 5 shops and 10 houses were looted and ransacked.
It is also reported that many indigenous people still remain missing. Among others, two Marma women from Thana Para who went to jungle to collect vegetables remain missing. Ashish Chakma son of Bigya Chakma of Baghaichari who was coming from from Chittagong to Khagrachari remains missing.
The local administration banned gathering, rallies and carrying firearms by ordering Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure for 24 hours at the places beginning 8:00 p.m. on 17 April as the violence was spreading. On 18 April 2011 in the morning local Member of Parliament of ruling party Awami League Mr. Jatindra Lal Tripura visited the spot under strict military control. He assured the victims of "sufficient" compensation. Chairman of Khagrachari Hill District Council Mr. Kujendra Lal Tripura and Deputy Inspector General of Police of Chittagong Range Mohamed Nawsher Ali accompanied Mr. Tripura. They held a public meeting on Jalia Para Government Primary School premises in the afternoon. Mainly the Muslim settlers attended the meeting while a few indigenous leaders also attended the meeting. On 18 April 2011 Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) of military forces issued a press release on this incident, which mentioned Muslim settlers as 'innocent' saying that the incident was started due to attack on innocent/unarmed Bengalis by terrorist Hill people equipped with sharp weapons.
Sources:PCJSS (Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti)
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