The authorities have withdrawn the ban on public gathering in Langadu area of Rangamati where an elderly woman was killed and several hundred adivasi establishments were reportedly looted and burnt to ashes by local Bangali settlers Friday.
Officials of the district and the upazila administration announced withdrawal of Section 144 from 2pm after an emergency meeting at the Upazila Parishad office on Saturday.
Deputy Commissioner Md Manjerul Mannan, Superintendent of Police Tariqul Hassan and officials of the army and law enforcement agencies attended the meeting among others.
On Friday night, police filed a case naming 15 people and against 300 unnamed others for the series of arson attacks carried out in at least three localities of Langadu, in protest against the death of a Bangali for-hire motorcycle driver.
Police say they have so far arrested seven Bangalis for their suspected involvement in the attacks. They are Saiful, Shahid, Abul Kalam, Shah Alam, Sabuj, Khayer and Mamun, Officer-in-Charge Mominul Islam said.
Meanwhile, our Bandarban correspondent reported that the UPDF called a seven-hour strike from 5am on Monday to protest the attack on the adivasi people.
The platform’s Rangamati district unit in a press note, issued on Saturday, called the strike on roads and waterways.
Ambulance, vehicles of emergency service providing agencies and bicycles will remain out of the strike’s purview.
Many indigenous peoples of Tintila, Manikjora Chhara and Baitya Para had left their homes for safety, and have remained missing. Local sources say the panic-stricken adivasis fear more communal attacks.
Authorities claimed that the situation had turned normal, though the adivasis refrained from going to the local marketplaces on Saturday.
The ban on public gathering and processions was imposed in Langadu around noon, several hours after the attacks began, to quell the situation but further attacks were reported in the remote Adivasi-dominated villages.
Langadu upazila administration has formed a three-member committee to investigate the incident.
A woman named Gunamala Chakma, 75, was killed in the arson attacks, carried out by Bangali settlers who brought out a procession Friday morning blaming the adivasis for the death of Nurul Islam Noyon in Khagrachhari the previous day.
Langadu Union Chairman Kallyan Mitra Chakma said that they were yet to assess the losses.
“Some adivasis who had left their houses on Friday have returned on Saturday. They are now staying at the temples. Members of the army and the police are here to ensure their security,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.
Terming it communal and planned, the indigenous peoples alleged that neither the army nor the police had taken any step to stop the rowdy attackers.
Different rights groups and political parties have condemned the attacks and demanded proper investigation.
At a press conference on Saturday, BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir demanded punishment of the people responsible for the attacks. “The houses were burnt after the death of a Jubo League leader. It explains everything,” he added.
On the other hand, International CHT Commission expressed regret and concerns over the attacks that ravaged around 300 houses of the indigenous peoples.
In a statement issued on Saturday, the rights body also demanded fair investigation into the death of the Jubo League leader, the subsequent “communal attacks” and role of the security forces during the attacks.
“The communal groups have proved that they do not respect the country’s constitution. They have been trying to destabilise the CHT region deliberately while being under the shelter of the influential quarters,” the statement reads.
Meanwhile, members of different indigenous communities from across the country formed a human chain in front of the National Press Club on Saturday demanding justice for the victims.
Teachers, engineers, High Court lawyers, rights activists and students took part in the programme.
Adivasi political groups PCJSS and UPDF have blamed the leaders of local Awami League and Jubo League for inciting the attacks, and held protest programmes in Khagrachhari and Rangamati. On the other hand, Jubo League and other Bangali groups demonstrated in the two districts.