TWO Hill Women’s Federation leaders, Monty Chakma and Doyasona Chakma, released on April 19 having been in captivity for 33 days after their abduction by a group said to be Nabya Mukhosh Bahini, or the new masked force, on Sunday alleged that their families were being threatened with dire consequences and eviction from their houses in the hill district of Rangamati is concerning on a couple of counts. Monty Chakma, general secretary of the Hill Women’s Federation backed by the United People’s Democratic Front, and Doyasona Chakma, general secretary of the organisation’s Rangamati district unit, at a press conference at the Dhaka Reporters Unity — where they narrated their sufferings, pains and what they heard and saw during their captivity — said that they had been released on three conditions of not continuing with politics, not leaving their ancestral villages without the permission of the masked force and not disclosing anything about their days in captivity. They further alleged that the group that had abducted them were threatening their families for not complying with the conditions. In a situation like this, the government should look into the issues and take necessary steps. The women in question, like any other citizens, have the right to pursue their political conviction and live in their ancestral homes.
There are allegations that the Nabya Mukhosh Bahini has links with the security forces and their abduction, as they said at the press conference, also had involvement of another group, reportedly followers of a break-away faction of the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti. Although the allegations may not be entirely true, but as the allegations concern the security forces and another political group of the hill districts, it is the duty of the government to credibly investigate the issue and make the findings public so that it does not breed any speculations. The Inter-Services Public Relations, as New Age reported on Monday, seeks to say that the army had no involvement in the abduction. Yet the description that the two women leaders gave of having passed through different camps and security checkpoints while they were being taken to some place without facing any security check at any of the points lends credence to the public perception that there could be a complicity of the security forces in the matter. Besides, the two leaders said that they could have been abducted for their political activities and their role in the protests against the rape of two Marma sisters and the murder ‘in custody’ of college student Romel Chakma. It is their democratic right to protest at their fellows being wronged by any quarters and it should not be any reason for their abduction.
The government, under the circumstances, must take up the issue seriously in the greater interest of the state. It must investigate the matter and make it credibly clear to the public that the security forces are in no way involved in it. And if their abduction resulted from their political activities and their protests, the government must bring to justice the group that abducted them. The national minorities living in the hill districts must in no way be put into a fearful situation.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Editorial