THE cry for justice of the family of Kalpana Chakma, a leader of the Hill Women’s Federation, continues as the law enforcement agencies failed to resolve the abduction case in about 25 years. Kalpana was picked up on June 12, 1996 allegedly by a group of armed men, including a junior army officer, from her house at Baghaichari, Rangamati, but the case has not yet been ready for trial for a credible investigation has not been conducted. Kalindi Kumar Chakma, her brother, a witness to the abduction and plaintiff in the case, has raised concern about the sincerity of the police saying that they have interrogated the complainant, leaving the accused outside the purview of their investigation. Their concern is not unfounded given that a Special Branch officer interrogated him again on Tuesday, asking him whether he has any knowledge of Kalpana’s whereabouts and that the police have information of one Kalpana Chakma taking citizenship in Mizoram, India. Her brother is right that any matter related to the case should come to him through court as the case is still pending hearing. It, otherwise, amounts to judicial harassment of the plaintiff.
The police officer, when asked about the reported intimidation and the failure to inform the court, said that he had spoken to Kalpana’s brother to verify some ‘information forwarded to him in a paper’ by his superior. The law enforcement agencies sidestepped the due process. Instead of questioning the brother, who has been saying that he has no knowledge of his sister since the abduction, the authorities concerned must make inquiry through the home ministry if they have credible information about their citizen’s whereabouts in a foreign land. According to the last submission of the Rangamati police in September 2016, in which they sought to close the case until any new evidence emerges, the Special Branch is expected to inform the court before contacting the plaintiff. This tendency to sidestep the due legal process is evidenced in every step from the recording of the first information report to the long-drawn investigation process. In 1996, the Baghaichari police registered the abduction case dropping the names of the accused that Kalpana’s brother mentioned. In 2016, the Criminal Investigation Department concluded that she was abducted but as she herself was witness to her abduction, no progress can be made until her return and the prosecution sought the closure of the case. In such a situation, one can hardly blame the aggrieved community and her brother if they believe that the police are out to save the alleged abductors.
It is time that the government made sincere efforts to judiciously resolve the abduction case, stopped any plaintiff intimidation, found out the criminals and punished them, which could help begin a new era of a better understanding between the Bengali and the non-Bengali communities.
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