• Tuesday, Sep 25, 2018
  • Last Update : 11:05 am

31 killed since December in the hills

  • Published at 12:33 am August 19th, 2018
khagrachari
At least seven men, including a pedestrian, were killed when assailants opened fire on a rally that was gathering at a busy area in Khagrachhari town on August 18, 2018 Nuruchsafa Manik/Dhaka Tribune

Prior to those killings, the majority of the victims were members or supporters of UPDF

The killing of people, at least three of them political activists belonging to the Chittagong Hill Tracts-based United Peoples Democratic Front (UPDF), on Saturday, brought to 31 the number of such political murders in the region since December last.

The renewed spate of violence began in the same month as the 20th anniversary of the signing of the CHT Peace Accord on December 2, and within weeks of the sudden splintering of the UPDF, that marked the birth of the breakaway UPDF Ganatantrik, led by Tapan Jyoti Chakma (alias Borma), the previous November 15.

Tapan Chakma would eventually turn into one of the victims of the ensuing war, when he along with four others were killed as they were on their way to attend the last rites of the slain advocate Shaktiman Chakma, chairman of Naniarchar upazila parishad and a leader of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity (MN Larma), which itself is a breakaway faction of the Shantu Larma-led PCJSS, and is said to ally itself with the UPDF Ganatantrik.

Prior to those killings, the majority of the victims were members or supporters of UPDF. Two of the victims were members of the Awami League's local units. The first actual victim of the turf war was UPDF activist Anal Bikash Chakma, who was shot dead on December 16.

This was the first death that UPDF attributed to its breakaway faction.

Within weeks, top UPDF leader Mithun Chakma was shot dead on January 3. Mithun's murder in broad daylight following a court appearance drew international attention.

UPDF activist Dilip Kumar Chakma was shot dead on February 17; Subhash Chakma was shot dead in Dighinala, Khagrachhari four days later, while another activist, Natun Mani Chakma, was murdered on March 11. On April 12, UPDF's Jony Tonchongya was murdered in Naniarchar, within hours of which a PCJSS (MN Larma) activist in the area, Sadan Chakma, was also killed.

By this time UPDF alleged that UPDF Ganatantrik and PCJSS (MN Larma) had entered into an alliance. The killings on May 4, as a UPDF Ganatantrik contingent was on its way to attend the funeral of the slain PCJSS (MN Larma) leader, seemed to confirm that. On April 16, Surjo Bikash Chakma, said to be a UPDF supporter, lost his life in Khagrachari, and UPDF leader Sunil Bikash Tripura was killed in a shootout at Panchhari Upazila in Khagrachari on April 22.

Then came the killings of May 3-4, which brought the number of such killings to 18 in the space of six months. Three members of UPDF were shot dead at Korolyachari under Baghaichari upazila in Rangamati in the early hours of May 28. The deceased were Sushil Chakma alias Sanjit, 45, Atal Chakma, 40, and Sugorchugo alias Smriti Chakma, 50.

Within three weeks, in the space of 48 hours, two activists of the PCJSS (MN Larma) and one member of UPDF Ganatantrik were killed. PCJSS (MN Larma) activists Suren Bikash Chakma and Bijay Tripura were shot dead in their homes in Rangamati and Khagrachari on June 17-18, and UPDF Ganatantrik activist Boli Chakma in Langadu upazila. On July 27, two people were killed in a gunfight that broke out at Betagichhara of Bagaichhari upazila in Rangamati, although only one of them - David Chakma of the JSS MN Larma - was identified as a political activist.

The other deceased person, Bon Kusum Chakma, identified just as a local, may have been caught up in the crossfire.