A courageous Jumma voice and an uncompromising leader of Hill Women’s Federation, Kalpana Chakma was abducted from her home in Rangamati on 12 June, 1996. Her brothers, eye witness to the abduction told later that members of security forces were involved in it. Twenty-three years have passed, her abduction remains unresolved and forced disappearance, as told by many young political leaders to New Age Youth, has almost become the norm than state of exception
President, Hill Women’s Federation
AS MANY as 23 years have passed since Kalpana Chakma was abducted. Her brother, eye witness to the abduction, some errant members of security forces — Lt Ferdous of the Bangladesh Army along with other identified members of VDP — as her abductors. However, justice has been stalled and no one is brought to justice as the state has visibly been shielding the perpetrators.
In other words, sate has sanctioned such actions to repress the dissenting voice in CHT. All governments of independent Bangladesh — Awami League, Bangladesh Nationalist Party or military dictatorship — have supported and approved such strategies to repress the dissenting voices of Jumma people.
The last victim of such state violence is Michael Chakma. Today, this violent strategy is not confined to CHT only; the government is implementing it in the rest of Bangladesh to suppress dissenting Bengali voices too. False cases, forced disappearance, illegal detention, ‘cross fire’ — these are no longer state of exception, rather the norm.
If the forced disappearance of Kalpana saw the light of justice, this tyranny of abduction, murder and illegal detention could have been prevented and Michael would not have met such uncertain fate.
If injustices are not met with democratic resistance, they will never stop.
Kalpana Chakma’s comrade and former general secretary, Hill Women’s Federation
SINCE April 9, Michael Chakma, a well-known young political leader of Chittagong Hill Tracts has been missing. Prior to his disappearance, he was in Kanchpur, Narayanganj with his comrades planning their commemorative event for the upcoming anniversary of the collapse of Rana Plaza returning.
On that fateful day, he was returning to Dhaka from Narayanganj, but never reached home. He has been missing for more than two months now.
More than two decades before the disappearance of Michael, Kalpana Chakma, a courageous leader of Hill Women’s Federation was abducted from her home in Lallyaghona village, Baghaichari. On June 12, 1996, she was picked up at the dead of the night and remained missing for 23 years.
What an irony of fate! Michael has been demanding justice for Kalpana and now has become victim of disappearance himself. Kalpana was abducted from the hill district of Rangamati, but Michael went missing from the heart of the capital. These two incidents are proof that Jummas are nowhere safe in Bangladesh.
Two comrades of different times shared a lot more than just being the victims of forced disappearance. They both come from working class families of remote villages in CHT. The economic hardship and traditional structure of the society couldn’t hold them back. They have always remained on the forefront of political struggles of Jumma people, they dared to speak truth to power.
Kalpana Chakma didn’t hesitate for a second to protest against unjust military rule, she challenged a military officer of local camp.
Similarly, illegal detention and torture in the hands of law enforcement agencies left unmoved Michael in his fight for justice.
Recently, he was slapped with many false and fabricated cases to intimidate him. His family and friends were living in fear and were very much aware that he is at risk of becoming a victim of forced disappearance. Their fear is now proven true.
In 23 years, the successive governments have made no sincere effort to bring back Kalpana Chakma. In the case of Michael Chakma, similar unwillingness is demonstrated by the law enforcement agencies.
In this situation, our fears are not misplaced — the next target is me or you!
President, Bangladesh Student Federation
ORDINARY people of Bangladesh are anxious and afraid because of rampant forced disappearance and cross fire. Michael Chakma, a strong voice from CHT has been missing for more than two months now.
On June 12, it was the 23rd anniversary of Kalpana Chakma’s abduction. The main accused, the-then Lt Ferdous in Kalpana’s abduction case is still at large.
Monty Chakma and Doyashona Chakma, two leaders of Hill Women’s Federation were abducted last year. They were released after thirty-three days on the condition that they would no longer be active in politics. No one was arrested for abducting the two young women leaders.
Inevitably, many assumed that law enforcement agencies may have been involved in the crime.
The Narayanganj seven-murder had rocked the country. Involvement of ruling party leaders and top law enforcement officials were arrested following investigation, some of them are now convicted to death sentence. However, the sentence is yet to be implemented.
A child named Sakib was abducted from Narayanganj almost a year ago. Law enforcement agencies have comforted the victim’s family saying that Sakib was doing well. Meanwhile, family members have accused the local chairman and a ruling party leader of the kidnapping.
Now the question is who is responsible to curb such crime?
Ensuring safety of the public is the responsibility of the government and law enforcement agencies. In reality, law enforcement agencies, if not in all the cases, are often involved in these extra judicial killings and forced disappearances. The government’s much publicised zero-tolerance policy against such crimes is nothing but a political rhetoric.
We want justice for Kalpana Chakma, we want Michael Chakma returned to his friends and comrades unharmed.
We say no to forced disappearance and extra judicial killing in Bangladesh.
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