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Dhaka Tribune

17 hurt in marchers’ clash with security forces

Update : 15 Mar 2015, 08:27 PM

At least 17 people including eight indigenous people were injured in a clash between a group of hill people and security forces in Babuchhara of Dighinala in the district yesterday.

The indigenous people under the banner of Dighinala Land Protection Committee were marching towards the under-construction Babuchhara battalion headquarters of the Border Guard Bangladesh. They were barred in at least four spots by the combined security forces having members of the army, BGB, police and Ansar – accompanied by a magistrate.

Army personnel fired at least 20 rounds of bullets to disperse the agitators, who pelted stones and bricks, and used catapult against the law enforcers during the clashes.

Boalkhali Ashram’s teacher Arun Shanti Chakma and another unidentified day labourer were picked up during the daylong clashes, police and locals say.

The demonstrators alleged that the army men had tortured at least two indigenous people – grade X student Subikash Chakma and Tridib Chakma. Six other hill people including Shushil Bikash Chakma, Rabi Ranjan Chakma and Lalon Chakma were also injured.

Sajek Land Protection Committee, Sajek Women’s Society, Uzo Bazar Protection Committee, Pahari Chhatra Parishad and Democratic Youths’ Forum participated in the march demanding relocation of the BGB headquarters and withdrawal of the false case filed against the indigenous people last year.

Army’s Dighinala Zone Adjutant Captain Towhidul Islam said the clash had taken place around 12:30pm in Karbari Para area. At that time, eight army personnel sustained injuries. He, however, could not give identities of the injured.

Regional Commander Brig Gen SM Mahbubul Alam said the hill people had attacked a patrol team of the army in Noapara area with bricks and catapult, leaving several army men injured.

Later in the day, Dighinala Land Protection Committee Convener Poritosh Chakma in a statement announced daylong transport strike in Dighinala for today protesting the attack of security forces, torture and gunshots on the demonstrators.

He demanded that the 21 families who had been evicted last year for the BGB headquarters defying a High Court status quo be given back their land.

Also former Babuchhara union chairman, Poritosh said the marchers were first obstructed near Maini Bridge. For that, they held a rally there. Later they were barred at Nu-o Para, Banchhara and Rangapanichhara (Karbari Tila) Model School and Babuchhara. The law enforcers fired blank shots as a portion of the demonstrators reached near Rangapani area.

Earlier, the local administration and the army stopped road communication so that the indigenous people could not join the march, organisers alleged adding that around 14,000 hill people gathered for the march. Chairmen and vice-chairmen of the local unions were also present.

On May 14 last year, BGB personnel from its 51 battalion took position in Dighinala’s Jatna Kumar Karbari Para and Shoshi Mohon Karbari Para and forcibly evicted 21 indigenous families on June 10. At that time, 18 locals mostly elderly women were injured. The BGB later filed a case against 150 people including 111 named. Police arrested a number of indigenous people in the case.

Both the Khagrachhari DC and BGB officials had denied claims of the 21 families’ ownership of the land.

Being evicted, the families took shelter in two classrooms of Babuchhara High School. “The families are now staying at the office of Babuchhara deputy assistant agriculture officer,” reads a statement signed by Dighinala Land Protection Committee member Secretary Dharmo Jyoti Chakma. 

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