One killed in fresh violence
The administration in Khagrachari ordered curfew of the town after at least one person had been killed and more than 50 injured and dozens of houses burnt down on Tuesday as fresh violence erupted in the town three days after the ethnic violence at Baghaichhari in Rangamati on Friday.
Troops are moving about in the town after the violence continued spreading across the town with sporadic clashes, leading to vandalism and arson of homesteads.
The authorities earlier clamped Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure on the town just three days after the ethnic violence at Baghaichhari in the bordering Rangamati in which two were killed and more than 300 houses were burnt down.
The Khagrachari deputy commissioner, M Abdullah, told New Age the administration had ordered curfew of the town between 9:00pm Tuesday and 7:00am Wednesday. He confirmed the death of a Bengali settler in the daylong clash.
‘A Bengali settler named Anwar, 26, was hacked to death,’ said the police superintendent, Amir Jafar, but he could not confirm the place of occurrence.
Leaders of ethnic minorities said they heard an ethnic minority youth died in front of the police satiation but they could not confirm it as the law enforcers were not allowing them to go out of home.
The clashes in the Khagrachari town began about 11:30am when the Bengali settlers led by Parbatya Bangali Chhatra Parishad chased a UPDF procession brought out in support of the blockade near the Shapla Square.
Immediate after, clashes spread to Ganjpara, Mahajanpara, Milanpur, Swanirbhar, Shantiniketan, Hospital, Narikel Bagan and Khagarachari High School areas.
Witnesses said the Bangali Chhatra Parishad men dashed into Mahajanpara and set fire to a number of houses of ethnic minority people which intensified the violence and both the groups continued setting fire to the house of each other in other places. People of both the communities fought with machetes, shackles, sticks and stones. The clashes continued till 2:30pm.
Parbatya Bagnali Chhatra Parishad activists vandalised the Jen Textile Mills at Mahajanpara owned by Sukta Dewan and set fire to a house behind it. They also burnt down the house of Shila Talukder, headmaster of the Khagrachari Government High School, and the house of former Golabari union council chairman Chaihla Pru Marma.
Violence flared up again in the afternoon as some ethnic minority people set fire to a shop owned by a Bengali settler. In retaliation, the Bengalis regrouped and attacked Satbhaipara and burnt 30 more houses about 5:00pm.
Troops were deployed in the town about 2:30pm and they dispersed the clashing people by firing blank shots.
At least 50 people, including five newsmen, were injured in the sporadic clashes over enforcement of the daylong blockade on road and river routes by the United People’s Democratic Front in protest at the Baghaichhari killing.
The UPDF enforced the blockade to push for its six-point demand that includes judicial inquiry of the killing and arson attacks on nine villages at Baghaichhari, punishment of the people responsible for the attack, compensation to arson victims and treatment for the people injured, reconstruction of prayer houses, stopping land grab and troops pullout from the hills.
The Khagrachari deputy commissioner, M Abdullah, said the administration had imposed Section 144 at the place to keep law and order. The administration announced the order through PA system and asked the people to stay indoors.
At least five journalists were injured during the clashes. They include NTV reporter Talat Mamun, Desh TV’s Khagrachari correspondent Mangsatun Marma, Dilip Chowdhury of Channel i and Shawkat Dewan of Prothom Alo.
UPDF pickets took position in different points of the town and adjacent areas early morning to enforce the blockade. Picketing was thin in the downtown in the morning and pickets tried to enforce the blockade there about 10:30am, said the correspondent in Khagrachari.
The pickets also damaged at least 20 vehicles in different points and set fire to a truck in front of the Collegiate High School about 7:30am. Additional policemen have been deployed in different strategic points but they failed to contain violence.
The United People’s Democratic Front general secretary, Rabi Shangkar Chakma in a statement condemned the attack at the homesteads and hostels of ethnic minorities in the Khagrachari town.
‘No action against the military and Bengali settlers for the attack at Baghaichhari has inspired them to indulge themselves in similar activities repeatedly. Peace will not return to the hills if the military and settlers were not withdrawn from there,’ he said, demanding a judicial inquiry of Tuesday’s incidents, arrest and trial of attackers and compensation to the victims.
Former lawmaker for the Khagrachari constituency Wadud Bhuiyan who had founded Parbatya Sama Adhikar Andolan, in a statement said, ‘The armed tribal terrorists attacked unarmed Bengalis and the hill people and burnt an innocent Bengali youth to death.’
‘The terrorists tied up Anwar and then threw him into the flames of a burning house at Salbagan area in the town,’ he said and demanded immediate redeployment of troops who were pulled out and reinstallation of the police and military camps withdrawn.
One killed in fresh violence