LOOKEAST REPORT | FOR ensuring the rights of self–determination of the indigenous Jumma peoples, it is urgent to transfer political, administrative and economic powers and functions to the CHT Regional Council and three Hill District Councils, says PCJSS representative Ms. Augustina Chakma at the 21st session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues….
FRESH political migration of Bengali Muslims from different districts of the country to the three hill districts of CHT continues alarmingly. In the same way, Naikhyongchari, Alikadam, Lama and Thanchi Upazila (sub–districts) of Bandarban district bordering Arakan State of Myanmar and having high hills and mountains has been facing the problem of fresh migration of Bengali Muslims from different parts of the country as well migration of thousands of Rohingyas of Arakan state of Myanmar.
It is the geographical location largely shaken by the fast–changing geo–political situation has made CHT to be a global strategic point, which bears equal significance to all the democratic countries of the world. The trendy uprising of Islamic militancy in Bangladesh and alongside the on–going state–sponsored Islamisation in CHT indicate the gradual formation of common threat to peace and stability in the hills.
The Islamic militant groups have been continuing their extremist activities in CHT by taking advantage out of the existing communal situation. The international Islamic terrorist organisations have been providing support to the fundamentalist organisations in Bangladesh with an aim at turning Bangladesh into an Islamic state in true sense of the term.
Mangal denied having any such connection. Mangal Kumar Tanchangya said that he has been doing business taking goods crossing border for a long time and hence he frequently travels Rakhine state only for his business purpose. Due to his frequent visit to Myanmar, RSO militants might suspects him as a spy of Myanmar army and government
Besides, the Rohingya Muslim militant groups are also active in the southern part of CHT. If the CHT region will turn into a complete Muslim–dominated area, the militants will make use the geographical advantage of the hilly region as rear ground for militant activities. And CHT will become a safe sanctuary for radicals.
For example, the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO) is active in Naikhyongchari Upazila of Bandarban district and Ukhiya and Teknaf in Cox’s Bazaar district. Main base camp of RSO militants is situated at Douchari union of Naikhyongchari Upazila in Bandarban district. At least 20 militant outfits are trying to recruit documented as well as undocumented Rohingyas living in the districts of Chittagong, Cox’s Bazaar and Bandarban.
ALHAZ HABIBULLAH, S/o unknown | Bahirmath | Ward No. 7, Dochari Mouza | Dochari Union, Naikhyongchari | Current Chairman of No. 4 Dochari Union Parishad | President, Awami League | Dochari Union Branch
JAMIR HOSSAIN, S/o late Abul Hossain | Hajirmath | Ward No. 6, Dochari Mouza | Dochari Union, Naikhyongchari Upazila | Current Member of Ward No. 6, No. 4 Dochari Union Parishad | Member, Jamaat–e–Islam, Ward No. 7 Committee | Dochari Union
NURUL AMIN, S/o late Ali Johor | Purba Bahirmath | Ward No. 7, Dochari Mouza | Dochari union, Naikhyongchari Upazila | Ex–Member of Ward No. 6, No. 4 Dochari Union Parishad | President, Juba Dal | Dochari Union Committee
SHAFIQUR RAHMAN, S/o late Md. Kalu | Dashkin Bahirmath | Ward No. 8, Dochari Mouza | Dochari union, Naikhyongchari Upazila | Current Member of Ward No. 8, No. 4 Dochari Union Parishad | Member, Awami League, Ward No. 8 Committee | Dochari Union
Taslim Iqbal is the Chairman of Naikhyongchari Sadar Union of Naikhyongchari Upazila. His father Jafar Habib migrated from Arakan of Myanmar in 1976. As per the information available, the first armed organisation of the Rohingyas was known to be ‘Rohingya Patriotic Front’ (RPF). Jafar Habib was the Founder President of RPF. Jafar Habib had an opportunity to address the ‘Islamic Summit Conference’ held in Casablanca of Morocco in 1984. In later days, the RPF got renamed as Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO) and began armed struggle for independent Arakan.
Jafar Habib was the Commander of RSO. Jafar Habib was settled in Naikhyongchari and built his house in 1980.
Rohingya Sayed Haji who also migrated from Myanmar became elected Chairman of Naikhyongchari Sadar Union in the last UP elections. As he died in a heart attack, his son Taslim Iqbal Choudhury has been elected as the Chairman of Sadar Union. Before Haji Sayed, one Mohammed Nobi was elected as the UP Chairman of Naikhyongchari Sadar Union.
Taslim Iqbal Choudhury, present UP Chairman of Naikhyongchari Sadar Union, is the former General Secretary of Naikhyongchari Upazila Awami League Branch and at present, he holds the party organisational responsibility as Joint Secretary. Though he is an elected–UP Chairman yet he is leading the RSO.
The information mentioned above is a part of the data regarding the Rohingyas becoming of ‘public representatives’ in Bangladesh. But the picture in full is much more worthy to be frightened. It is fact that the Rohingyas comprise one of the factors in the vote politics, especially, in the cases with Teknaf and Bandarban. The total population of Naikhyongchari Upazila is 57,000 of which the number of Rohingya is almost 30,000 where the number of settler Bengalis is 15,000–16,000 and the number of other Indigenous Jumma people including the Marmas is some 10,000 to 11,000 only.
Current Chairman of Naikhyongchari Upazila Parishad Tofayel Ahmed is public representative who has been elected consecutively for two terms. During his studies in the Chittagong University, he was involved in Islamic Shibir activities. It is believed that he garnered support or patronisation from Jamaat though he has not been found working as Jamaat–e–Islam. He claims that he had never involved in Jamaat politics. Tofayel adds that during his student life in Chittagong University, as there was no alternative for him but to do away with the Islamic Chhatra Shibir, he is wrongfully counted for belonging to Shibir. He claims himself to be involved in BNP politics.
Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO), has been intensified more than earlier. The government is not taking any steps against them. An influential group of the whole Upazila has continued using the Rohingyas in land grabbing, robbery, killing, smuggling of Yabba and drug in the border area. As a part of making out–number of indigenous peoples of the CHT into minority
The LOOKEAST investigation reveals that Tofayel Ahmed is known to be Anti–Rohingya person. Both the Bengali and indigenous people also maintain Anti–Rohingya sentiment. This phenomenon has prompted him to become choice of the people for two consecutive terms defeating his rival Awami League leader Shafiullah. It may be recalled that 5 people were arrested on allegation of being Islamic militants from some place of Chittagong in 2014. This RSO leader Shafiullah was one of them. Shafiullah collected funds from various sources at home and in abroad on Rohingya issue. He is known to be a rich man. It was his influence in national politics, Tofayel Ahmed was entangled with the case filed on attack and plundering Ramu Buddhist temples and villages. But Tofayel Ahmed could win in the Chairman election of Naikhyongchari Upazila Parishad from jail. Now, he is on bail.
The recent exodus of Rohingyas is excluded of the foregoing count. The Rohingyas who had migrated earlier have got their footing deep into the national politics of Bangladesh and it is enough to make one clear about Rohingyas influence in Bangladesh.
It is reported that the Rohingya inflow into Bangladesh has gone up to 370 thousand since 25 August armed attack in Rakhine. The Rohingya refugee stream is still on its course without any pause.
COMMUNAL TENSION FOLLOWING INCIDENT IN RAKHINE
Following the attack of Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), an Islamic militant outfit, on 30 border outposts including an army post in Rakhine state of Myanmar around 01:00 am on 25 August 2017, tens of thousands of Rohingya people continue to enter into Bangladesh crossing the border lines of Tombru, Baisphari and Ghundhum Bazaar of Ghundhum Union and Chakdhala, Nikunjachari, Chairmath, Borsonkhola Bhitor Jhiri of Naikhyongchari Sadar Union of Naikhyongchari Upazila through points of border pillars nos. 32, 33, 34, 40, 42 and 43 since 26 August 2017.
The Rohingyas are staying dispersedly within the range of 400 yards away of the fencing inside Bangladesh territory. Besides, the inflow of Rohingyas on foot and by boat still continues to cross Bangladesh border lines along Balukhali and Phalongkhali of Ukhia Upazila and Unchhingprang, Kharangkhali, Jhimongkhali, Sabrang, Shah Porir Dwip, Baharchara and Saint Martin Island of Teknaf Upazila under Cox’s Bazaar district. It is known that the local human traffickers of Bangladesh are aiding in exchange of BDT 5000 — 10,000 per head. The Rohingyas seeking shelter are mostly women and children. They bring livestock animals and fowls along with them.
The BGB personnel stationed along the Myanmar border lines are getting the newly arrived Rohingyas camped at the surrounding lands of Reikhyong, Putibunia and Monkhali areas which are mainly populated of Tanchangya (Chakma) indigenous people. It may be noted that the Rohingyas who came some years back have already been camped in the lands closed to the Thengkhali, Telkhola and Moshakhola dwelt by the Tanchangya indigenous people.
Consequently, the indigenous Tanchangya people are passing their days in fear and panic of communal attack and eviction from their lands. Besides, the other Jumma indigenous people living in Naikhyongchari Sadar, Sonaichari, Ghundhum, Baishari, and Dochari Union under Naikhyongchari Upazila are also passing days in fear and threat of possible attack of Rohingyas and Islamic militants. In the meanwhile, 5 families belonging to Tanchangya indigenous community fled away from Teknaf of Cox’s Bazaar district and took shelter at Mubachari in Rajasthali Upazila under Rangamati hill district.
LOOKEAST learnt that the fundamentalist and militant groups are at their height in provoking religious sentiment and spreading communal propagation throughout the country including CHT. Especially, the most significant aspect of such ill–attempt being perpetrated by these quarters of vested interest comprises of provocative utterance with false information at mass gathering, human chain, through social media, in the market, tea stalls and transport vehicles against the indigenous Jumma peoples in CHT.
The Rakhine indigenous people living along the coastal regions of the Bay of Bengal and the entire Buddhist community in that country, as a whole. They emphasize upon their point suggesting that since the Buddhists are attacking upon the Muslims in Arakan, the Buddhists in Bangladesh and the Jumma people of CHT will have to be attacked invariably.
It is through spreading provocative statements, this Rohingyas intends to impose the responsibility of Myanmar situation upon the Buddhist community, the Rakhine and Jumma people in the country to mitigate their hatred and fulfil their objectives thereby. Especially, such provocation advocating direct attack upon the Rakhine people living in Patuakhali, Borguna and Cox’s Bazaar districts of the coastal region is heard everywhere. Consequently, the Rakhine community people living at the coastal region and the Jumma people including the Buddhist community and specifically the Buddhist monks are, even though overwhelmed with fear for life, obliged to go out for day–to–day business including distant travel.
As part of such communal provocation, a direct threat was given through a Facebook ID named ‘Sabujchhaya Social Welfare’ on 5 September 2017 with stern warning to close the ‘Banaful Adivasi Green Heart School & College of Mirpur–13, Dhaka – the academic institution run by the Buddhist community incorporating the other community scholars. The statement appeared in the Facebook page reads: ‘Everything that runs by the Buddhists shall have to be closed. The schools and shops run by them shall have to be locked and sealed off and supplying of food and clothes for them shall have to be stopped. They must be banned from using the roads of Bangladesh. In need, push out all the Buddhists wherever they are and this must be not by tomorrow but right from now on!!! Target – 1) Mirpur–13 Banaful Adivasi Green Heart School & College, Dhaka.’ It came to known that the Principal of the institution filed a GD with Kafrul Police Station following the threat. Later, the police searched out one Muslim Bengali, the owner of the Facebook ID but it was allegedly known that the person concerned though had been identified, was released without sending him behind bar.
Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO) are still at their earlier stations in Ghundhum area of Naikhyongchari Upazila. Making themselves available there, they are extending helps to the newly sheltered Rohingya families stretched along inside territory of Bangladesh border. They are supplying drinking water, food and tents. But the RSO, according to the LOOKEAST investigation, they are expressing their anguish over the ARSA
It came to knowledge that immediately after the armed attack on 25 August 2017, the ARSA militants attacked the Hindu Bengali people living in Rakhine state. According to the source, most of the male members of the Hindu village near Maungdaw township of Rakhine state were killed by the ARSA militants. The militants put pressure upon the Hindu girls to marry Muslim youths and embrace Islam. The Hindu families were surrounded by the Rohingya militants for which they could not reach the Myanmar police and army crossing the armed militants and consequently, they had to find their shelter in Bangladesh.
On the other hand, the Rohingya ARSA militants also attacked the Rakhine, Mro and Chakma Tanchangya villages in and around Rachidong and Waledong areas under Maungdaw. At this, many Rakhine and Mro people including 9 Mro and 12 Chakmas were killed as reported. In Later on, in order to protect from the possible Rohingya attack, the Myanmar police and army shifted the Rakhine, Mro and Chakma Tanchangya villagers from Maungdaw, Rathidaung and Buthidaung areas to another safe places. The source from among the local inhabitants therein confirms that the Rohingyas, themselves set fire on their houses as to draw international attention.
The militants of Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO) are still at their earlier stations in Ghundhum area of Naikhyongchari Upazila. Making themselves available there, they are extending helps to the newly sheltered Rohingya families stretched along inside territory of Bangladesh border. They are supplying drinking water, food and tents. But the RSO, according to the LOOKEAST investigation, they are expressing their anguish over the ARSA. The RSO opines that the ARSA’s attack immediately after submission of the Kofi Annan Mission, has been a suicidal action. The organisation thinks that as a result, the Rohingyas have landed in an awkward situation. According to the RSO, it was potentially required to observe the outlook of the government of Myanmar for some days in response to the Kofi Annan Commission.
The abrupt and ultra–activeness on part of the Jamaat–E–Islam and Islamic Chhatra Shibir in the name of sheltering and supplying relief materials to the Myanmar–fled Rohingyas has aroused skepticism among various quarters. Allegation has got raised exposing the secret meetings between Rohingyas and BNP–Jamaat leaders somewhere in a compromised location. The BNP–Jamat leaders are getting massively organised in the name of showing humanity towards the Rohingya infiltrators who came into Bangladesh through more than hundred border points. The local people are to say that the Jamaat–Shibir leaders are found to be more active in this job.
Recently after the Myanmar government has released the detained Rohingya from prison. By the second week of April 2020, hundreds of Rohingyas are trying to enter Bangladesh through the Naf River. However, they were unable to enter the border due to the intensive vigilance of the army and the BGB. ■