THE filing of a case on June 21 against national minority people, who had their houses at Langadu in Rangamati burnt in an arson attack said to have been carried out by the Bengali settlers on June 2, by a local leader of the ruling Awami League on charge of burning houses and shops of the Bengalis is dismaying. About 300 houses of national minorities in about half a dozen villages at Langadu were burnt in the arson attack and a 70-year-old woman was burnt to death amidst the heavy deployment of law enforcement personnel. While investigations of the arson attack are still going on, life for the national minority people who came to be harmed in the arson attack are yet to become normal. Most of them are passing their in hardship in shelters and deep forest and are yet to return to homesteads, which were burnt and damaged, even after 20 days of the attack. In such a situation when most of the minority community people are still in a fearful situation, the filing of a case by an Awami League leader, that too centring on an incident which is said to have taken place before the arson attack and has no records, evidently point to further jeopardy of the people concerned.
The filing of the case has fearful ramifications on the affected national minority people — already in an inhuman condition at shelters without adequate food, clothes, drinking water and other amenities. Many of them have also started suffering from diarrhoea and viral fever, with the administration yet to take any considerable measure for them. The filing of the case would, thus, push them into a more difficult situation and make life difficult for them and it might compound the investigation of the arson attack as 44 who were among the people harmed in the arson attack were named accused in the case which the Awami League leader filed just the other day. The people who filed the case on June 21 sought to explain that they were late in filing the case as they could not earlier assess the damage in the June 1 attack on the houses and shops of the Bengalis at Batyapara and Kathaltala. But neither the police nor the local administration reported any such attack on the Bengalis. The Bengalis living there have also not made any such complaint of attack earlier. The situation lends credence to the inference that the filing of the case by the Awami League leader could be a ploy to obstruct investigation of the June 2 attack and lessen its gravity by way of raising a ‘false allegation’, as the national minority people seek to say.
In what has come about, the government must look into the filing of the case by the Awami League leader in question, rising above partisan interest, and punish him, in due process of law, deterrently if he is found to have falsified facts in harassing national minority people with the case and pushing them into further difficulty.
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