“The state has failed to trace a citizen missing for the last 23 years”
Rights activists and ethnic group leaders on Wednesday demanded speedy action from the state to ensure justice for missing activist Kalpana Chakma and a public apology for the delay in trying the case.
They were addressing a discussion marking the 23th anniversary of Hill Women’s Federation (HLW) Organizing Secretary Kalpana Chakma’s forced disappearance, organized by HLW and Bangladesh Adivasi Nari Network, in Dhaka.
“The state has failed to trace a citizen missing for the last 23 years,” Bangladesh Adivasi Forum Secretary Sanjeeb Drong said.
Sanjeeb also demanded that the state apologize for failing to trace Kalpana Chakma even after 23 years of her abduction.
Claiming that at least 50 people were killed in the last seven months in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), he added: “The deaths galore imply how civilized the situation is out there.”
“Outshining her Adivasi identity, Kalpana became the symbol of the struggle of the people,” Advocate Sultana Kamal told the discussion.
“Whatever the odds, repression, deprivation, discrimination and state policy imposed by Pakistan that we fought against, are now being applied on a group of people,” she said hinting at the tribal communities.
Saying that protesting against crimes costs lives in the country, Nijera Kori Executive Director Khushi Kabir said: “Feni madarasa girl Nusrat had to die for protesting her sexual abuse. Kalpana, too, raised her voice against Lt Ferdous.”
Kalapa’s protests were what led to her abduction, which triggered protests across the country, Khushi opined.
Lutfunnesa Khan, a reserved seat parliamentarian, said if anyone from a state force is found involved in crimes against women, the trial gets delayed.
“At one stage, the trial is halted-- something that happened in the case of Kalpnana and Sohagi Jahan Tonu (who was found dead after rape in Comilla),” she said.
“Even the prime minister’s intervention could not ensure justice for them. So, there is no alternative to protests to achieve rights,” the lawmaker concluded.
Kalpana, then 23, was kidnapped on June 12, 1996, from her village home in New Lalyaghona of Baghaichari, Rangamati.
Her brother, Kalindi Kumar Chakma—an eyewitness to the abduction—filed a case a few days later.
The prime accused in the case are Lieutenant Ferdous (Ferdous Kaysar Khan), Village Defense Party (VDP) member Nurul Huq and police Constable Saleh Ahmed.
So far, three reports—two final reports and one judicial inquiry commission report—have been placed before the court regarding the abduction.