Members of Parbatya Bangali Chhatra Parishad swooped on students during a demonstration in Rangamati town Wednesday reportedly for using the term adivasi and demanding justice for Romel Chakma’s death.
Three members of Bangladesh Chhatra Union, all adivasis (indigenous peoples), were injured in the attack, reports our correspondent.
Police detained two activists of Chhatra Parishad – Jahangir and Habib – but released them later taking an undertaking, Officer-in-Charge Muhammad Abdur Rashid said.
The district unit Chhatra Union, students’ body of Communist Party of Bangladesh, organised a human chain and held a rally in front of the deputy commissioner’s office Wednesday morning against communalism and demanding election to student bodies in all educational institutions.
At one point, some five to six members of Bangali students’ group snatched the event banner, posters and loudspeakers, and assaulted some protesters.
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City unit President of Chhatra Union Nobel Barua, who also sustained injuries, condemned the “sudden terrorist attack.”
Rangamati district unit President of Chhatra Union Avijit Barua said: “A communal group has attacked us when we were holding a programme against the communalism.”
However, district unit President of Chhatra Parishad Md Jahangir Alam has refuted the allegation of attacking the demonstrators.
“They were repeatedly demanding withdrawal of army camps from the Chittagong Hill Tracts, recognition of the adivasis of the hills and investigation into the death of terrorist Romel Chakma.
“When the government has imposed restriction on using the term adivasi, they were demanding recognition. We thought that the event was organised by an associate organisation of the UPDF group. So we wanted to ask them not to use the term, but they attacked us,” Jahangir claimed.
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A platform of youths linked to different political parties, Chhatra Parishad demands cancellation of the 1997 peace accord and ban on UPDF among other issues, alleging that the Bangalis of the CHT have been discriminated.
The Awami League government did not include the term adivasi or indigenous – a long-standing demand – when the constitution was revised in 2011, and instead labelled them as tribal, ethnic minorities and small ethnic groups.
Following this, letters were issued to different government offices in the CHT to refrain from using the term adivasi. The constitution also recognises them collectively as Bangalis.
There are dozens of indigenous groups – mostly impoverished and underprivileged – living in the hills and the plains.
[caption id="attachment_59935" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Members of UPDF-backed Pahari Chhatra Parishad observe a sit-in programme in front of the deputy commissioner's office in Rangamati Tuesday
Different indigenous and Bangali groups, human rights organisations and individuals have demanded a judicial inquiry into the mysterious death of Romel Chakma, the Naniarchar Upazila unit general secretary of UPDF-backed Pahari Chhatra Parishad.
They allege that HSC examinee Romel fell severely ill due to torture by the army personnel of Naniarchar camp on April 5. He was then handed over to the police and admitted to Chittagong Medical College Hospital, where he died on April 19.
The PCP observed a daylong blockade in the district on Sunday and submitted memorandum to the home minister and the deputy commissioner on Tuesday. On Wednesday, they observed “boycott Naniarchar Bazar” programme over the same issue.
Meanwhile, Buddhist students of Dhaka University staged a demonstration on the campus Wednesday in protest against communal hatred.
The organisers say in an article, the Daily Janakantha newspaper has termed “Gautama Buddha a terrorist” which has hurt the religious sentiment of the peace-loving Buddhist people of the country.
During Sunday’s blockade, the PCP activists burned the Daily Kaler Kantho in Rangamati for branding Romel Chakma as a terrorist and claiming that he succumbed to injuries he had received from a road accident.
According to Naniarchar police, Romel did not have any case against him.