The United Peoples Democratic Front (UPDF) made the declaration yesterday at a press briefing at Dhaka Reporters Unity.
Mikel Chakma, organiser and member of UPDF’s Dhaka unit, said: “The houses of indigenous people of Bogachhori in Rangamati were torched on last year’s Victory Day. Besides, on February 21 last, law enforcers ruthlessly beat up indigenous community’s passengers of a bus, sparing the Bangalis traveling side by side.”
He said: “Such discrimination between citizens of two different ethnic backgrounds is a violation of constitutional rights. It also signifies how biased the government is in respect of ensuring justice to the country’s minority communities.”
The UPDF leader declared: “So, we will reject all the state programs on December 16 this year protesting such discrimination.”
Reinvestigation of Kalpana Chakma abduction
The UPDF leader also demanded reinvestigation into Kalpana Chakma abduction case at the press briefing.
Kalpana Chakma, an indigenous women rights activist was abducted on June 12, 1996 from her village home at New Lalyaghona village in Baghaichari upazila of Rangamati.
On September 7, police submitted the final report seeking closure of the case, and the court took it into cognisance on September 27. The final report said that the case would be reopened if a new lead is found.
The report also said in the last 20 years, a total of 39 investigation officers of police investigated the sensational abduction case, but all of them failed to gather any potential clue that could lead to unveiling the mystery behind the abduction. Needles to mention, they also failed to find out the whereabouts of abducted Kalpana, an indigenous women rights activist.
At the briefing, Mikel Chakma demanded that the government scrap the final report and initiate new investigation into the case and ensure punishment for the criminals like Lt Ferdous, who according to Kalpana’s brother, had picked her up from their house in front of his own eyes.
UPDF central committee members Sachib Chakma, Ripan Chakma, Bipul Chakma and Monti Chakma, among others, were also present at the briefing.
‘Deprived of freedom of expression, political rights’
Observing that indigenous community is deprived of freedom of expression and political rights, Mikel said: “Pahari Chhatra Parishad (PCP) General Secretary Bipul Chakma was detained in front of Panchhori police station while taking his mother to a hospital in Chittagong. Her ailing mother could not endure the suffering, and died the following day.
He said: “Some 23 leaders of UFDP and PCP have been arrested by the law enforcers since April last year. Besides, a number of indigenous political and cultural activists were detained during the time.
“We even are not allowed to hold protest programmes against military atrocities or government’s indifference to our sufferings. We are often forced to stop our programmes in the middle by the army.”
Mikel demanded release of UPDF leaders and activists from arbitrary detention.
“The government must give adequate compensation to Gaibandha’s Santals and Nasirnagar’s Hindus who recently became subject to hate crimes committed by miscreants from majority Muslim community. And the perpetrators of those communal attacks must be brought to book,” he demanded.
‘Withdraw Operation Uttaran, 11-point directives’
“The so-called ‘Operation Uttaran’ which is being carried out to oppress the indigenous people and the 11-point directives issued by the Home Ministry must be withdrawn since such acts are clear violations of our constitutional and human rights," he said.