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Survival or Justice?

  • Published at 12:20 am March 25th, 2019
web-The minor daughters of Ansar and VDP member Bilkis Akhter, who was killed in the March 18 gun attack in Rangamati
The minor daughters of Ansar and VDP member Bilkis Akhter, who was killed in the March 18 gun attack in Rangamati Kamrul Hasan

Kamrul Hasan and Nuruschafa Manik, from Khagrachhari

After an assault on an election convoy in Rangamati killed seven last week, their families are now left to wonder where to turn for security.

On Thursday, the Baghaichhari upazila office was filled with people as a seven member probe committee formed to investigate the attack, visited the victims and their families. 

With at least seven deaths and 29 injuries, the March 18 attack by unidentified assailants, is the first and most significant attack on Bangalis in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, since the CHT Peace Accords were signed in 1997.

As the probe committee spoke to the victims and their families, a teenage girl carrying a child darted behind shuffling feet and towering officials.

They were the daughters of Bilkis Akhter, one of the persons killed in the attack. Nur, a teenager who sat for her SSC exams this year, carrying her four-year-old sister Mawa, whispered that they were orphaned.

Five years ago, their father, Rahmatullah, died in a road accident. But Bilkis had been resolutely taking care of them by moving in with her parents in Baghaichhari. But her death has flung the lives of her two children into disarray and uncertainty.

Trembling with fear and shock, Nur spoke: “My mother wanted me to become a government employee after completing my HSC exams. She thought it would give me an opportunity to pursue higher studies and together, we could make a better life for Mawa.”

Sobbing, Nur continued: “If the government or the authorities my mother worked for, could find a way to give me a job and the opportunity to study, I could take care of myself. But, who is going to be a mother to Mawa? Who is going to take her responsibility?”

Nur came to the upazila office with a neighbor. She did not know where to go, or who to talk to, much less what to do.

“What would appealing for justice for my mother achieve? I just want a way for my sister and me to survive.”

Additional Secretary, Dipak Chakrabarty, who heads the probe committee, said he would recommend appropriate compensation for the victims and measures to be taken for the survival of dependent families. 

Meanwhile, on Friday, Ansar-VDP gave Tk1 lakh to the family members of the deceased Ansar member from the attack.  

Ansar-VDP Deputy Director General Shamsul Alam told the media that the force would offer job opportunities to any eligible family member of the deceased.