Bangladesh army and settlers conduct racially motivated attack against indigenous people in Rangamati
On 22 September 2012, Bengali Muslim settlers conducted communal attack on indigenous people in Rangamati. At least 40 indigenous students, 1 government physician, 12 Union Parishad chairmen, 2 college teachers were injured. Severe damage was brought to the office and rest house of the CHT Regional Council, shops and houses of the indigenous people. Despite the army took their positions at different locations along the main road (Rangamati-Chittagong road), the Muslim settlers conducted attacks upon the indigenous peoples and their localities either side causing wide damage upon indigenous-owned shops and houses.
It is learnt that hot exchanges over the issue of sitting in the college bus took place between the two college students belonging to indigenous and Muslim communities in the classroom approximately around 9:30 a.m. At certain point, as the Muslim student kicked the indigenous student, the skirmish between the students of two communities began. The Muslim students attacked on the indigenous students indiscriminately. The incident took a wide shape as the indigenous students took an effort to resist the attackers. Chasing and counter chasing between the students of two communities continued. At this hour, the Muslim settlers from the surrounding localities near the college, being equipped with sharp choppers, canes, stick etc. entered the college boundary and participated in attack on the indigenous students.
At this hour, the army and police took position at the main entrance of the college. They did not prevent the Muslim settlers and Muslim students while they were chasing after the indigenous students. On the contrary, it was learnt that while the indigenous students got reorganized and started chasing the attackers of Muslim settlers and Muslim students, the army personnel brought in pressure upon the indigenous students. At this point of time, near about 30 indigenous students, 5 Muslim students and 2 college teachers were injured.
Afterwards, some groups of army and police forces arrived at Rangamati Government College, College gate area, TTC Road, Kalyanpur and Devasishnagar. Immediately after their arrival, the army and police forces drove the attacking settlers away and the indigenous people also began to back to their own localities. But while chasing after the indigenous people, the army and police entered into indigenous-inhabited Kalyanpur and Devasishnagar localities. They continued to chase the indigenous peoples with canes and sticks. They began caning and pelting at the indigenous people irrespective of women and children. Another group of army led by the Warrant Officer Mohamed Omar continued to chase the indigenous people along the Kalyanpur road while striking against the indigenous houses by roadsides with sticks. At certain point, the army continued to advance towards the residence of CHT Regional Council chairman. At this time, as the chairman of the Council came out of his residence, the army personnel conducted outrageous behavior with him also.
Immediately after the college violence, the Muslim settlers from different areas began to gather at College gate, Banarupa, Kathaltali, Vedvedi, North Kalindipur, Amanatbag, Reserve Bazar, Old Bus Stand, Tabalchari and other places to attack the indigenous people. The Muslim settlers also attacked the Union Parishad Chairmen who were attending conference at the Rangamati Upazila Council Conference Hall. In this attack, around 12 UP chairmen received serious injuries while other 20 chairmen received minor injuries.
After attack at Vedvedi area, the Muslim settlers broke the houses of Bishu Kumar Chakma and Sundar Kumar Chakma near the Vedvedi Primary School. Besides, the attackers set fire on a truck and an auto-rickshaw at Vedvedi. During attack at Banarupa area, many indigenous men and women including Dr. Sushobhan Dewan of Rangamati General Hospital were wounded. The settlers attacked Dr. Sushobhan Dewan with knives and sticks at the Kaushik Pharmacy. They also broke his motorbike. The Muslim settlers also broke the commercial institutions, shops and Chevron & Doctors Lab owned by the indigenous people. He sustained serious injuries in the head and got his hand fractured and might lose the sight in one eye. It is learnt that as the day was a Market Day, many indigenous men, women and children came to market became victims of the attack. The Muslim settlers also attack the indigenous people who went to see the wounded at the Rangamati hospital boundary. At this one Subhash Mitra Chakma received serious wounds. In Reserve Bazar, the settlers also attacked 5 indigenous people who came to the market. The indigenous people at Tabalchari and Majhir Bosti also became under settler’s attack.
On the other, the attackers attacked the CHT Regional Council office; they broke the main entrance, window glasses and vehicle glasses and pelted at the office. They tried to set fire by throwing petrol-filled burning Coca-Cola bottles at the CHT Regional Council office. They also assaulted the CHT Regional Council rest house. The window glasses of the rest house and the glasses of one vehicle got shattered in this attack. The Muslim settlers also attacked on the building of retired government officer, Amuya Ranjan Chakma and broke the shops attached to it. As the attackers pelted stones, the windows of district office of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) got shattered. It is to be noted that the Muslim settlers attacked the CHT Regional Council office and rest house towards 3.00 pm that is 5 hours later since the beginning of the incident.
Centering the Rangamati incident, the Muslim settlers also attacked the indigenous people at Longadu upazila sadar. At least five indigenouss including Chikko Muni Chakma were wounded during the attack. Around 30 wounded persons including Dr. Sushobhan Dewan were admitted at Rangamati General Hospital. Among them, 5 Muslims, Dr. Sushobhan Dewan, Mangal Kanti Chakma and Subhas Mitra Chakma were sent to Chittagong in serious condition.
General Officer Commanding (GOC) of 24th Infantry Division of Chittagong cantonment visited Rangamati and organized a meeting with government officials, public representatives and teachers of Rangamati college at the Rangamati Circuit House. The meeting decided to form an inquiry committee to investigate the incident. Following the decision, section 144 was imposed in Rangamati town for indefinite period.
Following is the list of indigenous people who were admitted to Rangamati General Hospital
Following is the list of indigenous people who did not require hospital admission
Sources:PCJSS (Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti)
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