Hill people in Rangamati put blockade on Rangamati-Khagrachari highway on Friday protesting against the death of a HSC examinee in custody after ‘torture’ and ‘snatching away his mortal remains’ by administration.
Local administration blamed the United People’s Democratic Front for enforcing the blockade but the party leaders said it was spontaneous reaction of the locals and they have full support to the protests.
HSC examinee and Pahari Chhatra Parishad Naniyarchar unit general secretary Romel Chakma was picked up by military personnel from Naniyarchar Bazar on April 5, taken to a camp and later handed over to the police. He died at Chittagong Medical College Hospital on Wednesday.
Rangamati superintendent of police Sayeed Tarikul Hassan said Romel was picked up by military and he was admitted to Chittagong Medical College Hospital after he had fallen ill and died there on Wednesday. Romel was cremated on Friday in presence of family members, he said.
One of Romel’s uncle, who requested not to publish his name, told New Age that when Romel’s mortal remains reached Burighat of Naniyarchar, military personnel took away the body on Thursday night and burnt it in their custody without following religious rites and tradition on Friday.
‘They also took the karbari our village and one of our cousins with Romel’s body. They allowed none other to be there. We heard that they had picked up a bhante (monk) from somewhere but there was no religious or traditional ritual when they burnt the body,’ said the uncle over telephone.
‘I have never heard of such inhumane act. They even did not allow any of the family to see Romel at hospital,’ he said. He also said Romel’s father became ill after the death of his son.
Meanwhile, Abdul Latif, officer-in-charge of Naniyarchar police station, said Romel was cremated around noon in presence of upazila nirbahi officer of Kaukhali Azgar Ali, who also in-charge of Naniyarchar, magistrate and seven to eight policemen at Purba Hatimara in Burighat union.
Latif said the allegation of snatching away Romel’s body is absolutely false baseless. ‘His body was handed over to his family at 3:00pm on Thursday after autopsy at Chittagong Medical College Hospital,’ he said.
The PCP announced daylong blockade of road and waterways in Rangamati for Sunday, hold demonstration in front of Rangamati deputy commissioner’s office on Tuesday and boycott Naniyarhcar Bazar on Wednesday.
The announcement came Thursday, a day after Romel died at Chittagong Medical College Hospital while undergoing treatment. PCP office secretary Ronal Chakma signed the statement.
The Democratic Youth Forum and five women’s groups of the Chittagong Hill Tracts including Hill Women’s Federation have expressed solidarity with the programmes.
On April 6, Romel’s father Kanti Chakma wrote to National Human Rights Commission chairman Kazi Reazul Hoque demanding justice for the inhuman torture inflicted upon his son by the military personnel.
The UPDF and the PCP alleged that Romel was severely tortured by the army.
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