Six hill villages at Langadu in Rangamati remained deserted with burnt houses as panicked ethnic minority people, who fled to the forests after their houses were set afire allegedly by Bengalis on Friday, did not return to the villages till Saturday while an unnerving situation prevailed in the area.
The victims said they did not trust the promises given by the administration to ensure their safety and security while different national in international rights organisations demanded safety and security for the ethnic minorities and trial of the attackers.
The administration withdrew the ban on gathering on Saturday, but police and army personnel kept vigil in the area of the hill district, home to various ethnic minorities.
‘We are asking the ethnic minority people through local representatives to return home, but they did not turn up,’ Langadu upazila nirbahi officer Tajul Islam told New Age Saturday afternoon.
The police filed a case Friday night against some 400 people naming 15 for setting fire to the houses of the ethnic minorities at different hill villages and attacking the law enforcers, said Langadu police officer-in-charge Mominul Islam.
The police also arrested seven people – Md Sharif, Abul Khair, Shariful Islam, Mukhter Hossain, Md Delwar Hossain, Zakir Hossain and Nur Mohammad. A Rangamati court sent them to Rangamati jail, said court inspector of police Arun Chandra.
Langadu union parishad chairman Kalin Mitra Chakma, whose house was also set afire, along with some 300 others in the area, said that many of the victims took refuge to neighbouring hill villages, while others spent the night in the deep forests.
‘We have no trust in the promises given by the administration to ensure our safety and security,’ he said.
The relatives of the victims, living in Dhaka, said that the victims were going without food and shelter in the hilly terrains amid intermittent rain.
Rangamati deputy commissioner Manjarul Mannan said that the burnt houses would be rebuilt and the victims would be compensated.
‘They will be rehabilitated,’ he said, adding that the administration was preparing a list of the affected families.
Langadu upazila project implementation officer Mohammad Abu Tayab said that they had so far made a list of 86 families affected in the arson attack.
‘We are facing problem in preparing the list as there are hardly any national minority people at Tintila, Baittapara and Manikjo Chhara villages,’ he said.
Houses of these villages were completely burnt, he added.
Langadu police officer-in-charge Mominul said they were not sure about the reported death of septuagenarian woman Dinamala Chakma of Tintala in the arson attack.
‘We are counting her as missing,’ he said.
The attack came after the body of a local leader of the ruling Awami League-backed youth organisation Juba League, Nurul Islam Nayan, was found at Char Kilometre of Khagrachari on June 1.
Rangamati district Juba League president Akbar Hossain Chowdhury alleged that the Parbattya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti, a regional political party of the hill people, was behind the murder of Nurul.
The PCJSS, however, denied the allegation.
Its assistant publicity secretary Sajib Chakma said that it was a conspiracy against PCJSS.
Internal conflict might be the reason for the killing, he added.
International Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission on Saturday said that they were puzzled by the incidents as such violent acts like arson attack were carried out at six hill villages in the overwhelming presence of the security forces.
In a letter sent to the home minister Asaduzzaman Khan, the commission demanded immediate arrest of the perpetrators, safety of the villagers and proper compensation for the victims, said a statement issued on Saturday.
Condemning the attack, Bangladesh Adivasi Forum in a statement said that the government failed to take proper measures despite repeated violation of human rights of the ethnic minorities.
Kapaeeng Foundation and Human Rights Forum Bangladesh also condemned the attack and demanded trial of the attackers and safety to the national minority people.
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