IT IS 22 years that Kalpana Chakma, a leader of the Hill Women’s Federation, was abducted by armed ‘hooligans’ from Baghaichari of the Chittagong Hill Tracts on June 12, 1996. However, the abduction case registered by Kalpana’s brother, Kalindi Kumar Chakma, on the same day has not yet been ready for trial, for a credible investigation has not been conducted yet. The police attitude towards the abduction case appears to have been biased for Bengali chauvinism since the beginning. The Baghaichari police registered the abduction case omitting the names of the accused, all Bengalis including a junior army officer, Kalpana’s brother had mentioned in the first place. Then, the three-member Enquiry Commission comprising the Bengalis submitted its report said that Kalpana was abducted ‘willingly or unwillingly’, without explaining how can someone get ‘abducted’ willingly. Then, 14 years after the incident, a sub-inspector produced a report in September 2010, claiming that the police could neither identify Kalpana’s location nor could identify her abductors. Then, the Criminal Investigation Department of Police ‘investigated’ the case on court order and submitted a ‘flawed’ report, without interrogating three primary accused, which was rejected by the court. Then, after another round of failed ‘investigation’, the police appealed in September 2016 that she was abducted but they could not rescue her or identify her abductor and requested the court to close the case. Her brother submitted a ‘naraji petition’ about the police prayer the next month, which remains pending with the court for the past 18 months. Under the circumstance, one can hardly blame the Chakma community, if it believes that the police are out to save the alleged Bengali abductors of Kalpana.
That Kalpana’s is not the only case of abduction in the CHT, nor that abduction is unknown in the Bengali society, but her case has become a symbol of majoritarian Bengali injustice on the national minority communities, which is dangerous for forging lasting peace in a multi-national country — no matter how small the minority national communities are. That the successive governments of the Bengali ruling classes — be it that of Awami League, Bangladesh Nationalist Party or Jatiya Party or the military regimes — have done injustice to the non-Bengali ethnic communities in the CHT and elsewhere is a political fact, for they have refused to constitutionally recognise their ‘nationalities’ in the first place. Then, the dilly-dally in implementing the peace accord signed between the government of Bangladesh and the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanhati Samity in 1997 continues to increase mistrust about the majoritarian Bengali establishments among the non-Bengali ethnic communities. Moreover, the successive governments of the country have kept the CHT under a kind of semi-military rule on various pretexts for decades now, not to mention the fact of settling thousands of poor Bengalis from different parts of the country in the CHT region that contributes to perpetual social and political tensions among the locals and the non-locals. The ultimate results of such chauvinistic governance over the national minority communities could never prove to be good for a country.
Under the circumstance, the government should make sincere efforts to judiciously resolve the Kalpana abduction case, find out the criminals and punish them, which could help begin a new era of better understanding between the Bengali and the non-Bengali nationalities of the country.
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