ASK Fact Finding Report
Date of the Incident
2 June 2017
Place of the Incident
Villages- Tintilla, Manikjorchora, Baityapara, Upazila- Longadu, District – Rangamati
Date of the Fact Finding
06-07 June 2017
Fact Finding Team
Anirban Saha, Topote Bhattacharjee and Hasibur Rahman
On 2 June 2017, Bangalee settlers unleashed a series of arson attacks on the indigenous community in Longadu upazila after police recovered the body of Nurul Islam Nayan, organizing secretary of Sadar union unit Jubo League. The perpetrators had launched attack in the three villages (Tintila, Manikjorchora and Baityapara) of Longadu. They vandalized, torched and looted houses and shops of the indigenous people. One person died, 214 houses and 22 shops were torched during the attack. Guunbala Chakma (70) one of the victims couldn’t flee and died on the spot burning inside the house.
Thousands of indigenous Jumma peoples including women and children were forced to flee following the attack and took shelter in the jungles and nearby villages. Currently, most of them are living under the open sky in incessant rains without food, clothes and treatment.
The dead body of Nurul Islam Nayan, was found at Charmile area of Khagrachari-Dighinala road on 01 June, 2017 day before the attack. The Bangalee settlers blamed the indigenous community for his murder. Tensions spread in the locality due to this.
Local Indigenous people started to fear that there might be massive attack like 1989 as at that time Bangalee settlers attacked and set fire in the houses of the indigenous people. They informed their concern to the local administration including police and army. The authorities assured that there will be no chaos and they will ensure the security of the indigenous people. In spite of such assurances, the indigenous people were attacked brutally and their houses and shops were torched and vandalized, looted by the Bangali settlers.
While carrying out the fact finding, the team interviewed several victims or witnesses of the incidents.
One of the victims Kalashona Chakma whose mother Gunbala Chakma died said that when arson attack started they flee from their house. As Gunbala Chakma was incapable of running due to age they took her to the house of Kulin Mitro Chakma, UP Chairman of Longadu presuming that the miscreants will not attack his house. But the attackers torched his house too and Gunbala Chakma could not flee.
According to the indigenous people, tension arised in the locality since police found the dead body of Nurul Islam Nayan, organizing secretary of Sadar union unit Jubo League and a motor cycle driver by profession. On the evening of 1 June 2017, the Bangalee Settlers attacked a person belonged to the indigenous community namely Aruntana Chakma blaming them liable for the death of Nurul Islam Nayan. Immediately after the incident they reported this to the local Police station as well as informed the incident to the administration and the Captain of the local Army camp. Though they assured that the situation of 1989 will not repeat but finally they all fail to give the indigenous community protection. On 2 June 2017 the Bangalee settlers started a rally carrying the dead body of Nurul Islam Nayan. And from that rally they started to spread hate speech against the indigenous people. Without any prior incitement they set the houses and shops of the indigenous people of Tintila village into fire they also burn the upazilla unit office of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS). When the miscreants started to approach the Manikjorchora village the locals tried to resist them but the police and army also joined the attackers and fired aiming the indigenous people. Due to this the indigenous people could not protest the attackers and they had to flee without taking any of their belongings.
While investigating, the ASK team find out that almost every house of village Tintila, Manikjorchora and Baityapara were burnt to ashes. Other things like furniture, utensils of daily uses, paddies of this year and trees besides the houses were also burnt. They could not save anything. Even the scenario of the shelter centers is miserable. Over 100 of indigenous people took shelter in 5/6 rooms of a shelter center. Children and elderly persons are the worst sufferer of this situation. The school colleges have been closed.
Local administration has prepared a list of victims and the amount of loss. But the team observed that the list is incomplete as it could not cover all kind of losses occurred in this incident.
The indigenous people claimed that it was a pre-planned attack. They refused to take any aid from the government. They demand that the Government should first ensure their security. They have lost almost everything, only rice or money is too trivial on account of the loss. They demand proper rehabilitation.
Another victim of the attacks UP Chairman Mongol Kanti Chakma informed that they think the attack was pre-planned. Because they had informed the administration that something wrong was going to be occurred. But they did not pay any heed to them. Moreover, they supported the attackers.
Role of Administration, Law Enforcing Agencies, Security Forces and Local leaders
ASK representatives communicated with UNO, Deputy Commissioner, Officer-in-Charge of Police and Additional Police Super. They also visited the Army camp of Mainee Zone to talk with Longadu (Mainee) Zone Commander Lieutenant Colonel Abdul Alim Chowdhury but after waiting one hour they were informed that he was out of the camp. Though they collected the contact numbers of the ASK representatives and promised that they will contact but that has not happened yet.
According to the OC of Longadu though the family of deceased Nurul Islam Nayan was aided by Longadu Military Zone with 10000 taka but the administration had no prior information that Bangalee settlers may brought a procession from the funeral. Almost 4 to 5 thousand Bangalee setllers participated in the rally so police took their stand to take control. Suddenly few participants attacked the house of Dipalu Chakma. Police tried to restrain them but the attackers threw stones at them. Even Army Patrol cars were with the Police. There were probably 120 members of security forces. As the attackers were large in number they divided into groups and attacked the indigenous villages and the security forces could not protest them. The ASK investigation team wanted to talk about this with local Bangalee leaders but could not communicate. But some Bangalee shopkeepers of Longadu market expressed sorrow for this barbaric attack. According to them this attack was operated by the outsiders to destroy the peace and friendly relations between Indigenous people and Bangalee.
- On 2 June 2017 at around 12 pm the local administration declared section 144 (unlawful assembly). However, this declaration could not help much as the attacking, vandalizing, looting and arson continued by the perpetrators in the presence of security forces.
- There was disappointment among the local people as administration failed to take any actions to prevent such attacks despite they informed the authority about their fear earlier.
- The administration had also failed to stop the perpetrators immediately when the massive arson attack took place.
- When indigenous peoples tried to protect themselves from the attack by resisting the perpetrators, the police and army personnel opened fire targeting the indigenous people not the perpetrators.
Sharanika Chakma, a member of Word No. 1, 2 & 3 of the Sadar Union informed the team that her husband Late Niharbrindo Chakma was Former Lance Corporal of Army. When the procession starts she called in local Police Station and Army camp fearing danger to stop the procession. But they did not take it seriously.
There was no immediate response from the administration and law enforcing agencies.
Legal Action Taken
One case was filed at the Longadu Thana on the incident. On 2 June 2017 a police case under Penal Code Section 143/ 147/ 148/ 447/ 448/ 427/ 436/ 186/ 353 was filed by Sub Inspector Dulal Hossain of Longadu police station against 15 persons by name and 300 unknown persons. It was learnt that the police arrested 16 persons over this case among them 7 person were named in the complaint.
As of 5 June 2017, police have arrested 19 people in connection with this case.