Courtesy: The New Age, Dhaka, Metropolitan, 13 June 2010
Violence marked the half-day blockade of roads and waterways enforced by a faction of Hill Women’s Federation in Rangamati on Saturday leaving 18 injured, including three newsmen.
Locals and witnesses said some 60 Bengali settlers wielding sticks pounced on the ethnic minority leaders and activists who were picketing Rangamati-Chittagong road in Manikchhari area at about 11:30am.
The hill women’s organisation backed by the United People’s Democratic Front enforced the blockade in protest against Rangamati deputy commissioner’s refusal to allow them to hold a rally marking the 14th anniversary of the abduction of its leader Kalpana Chakma which fell on Saturday.
The Rangamati district administration refused to allow rival ethnic minority groups belonging to the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti and the UPDF fearing ‘deterioration of law and order.’
The HWF leaders said that the settlers led by Sapchhari unit Juba Dal president Sagir Ahmed and Sama Adhikar Andolan leader Abu Bakar Siddique attacked them with sticks and lethal weapons in presence of police and military personnel.
Three journalists also incurred the wrath of the attackers. They beat up M Solaiman of Naya Diganta, Nandan Devnath of Channel i and Milton Barua, who were gathering news and taking photographs at the spot. The settlers smashed Nandan’s camera and laptop. The three journalists have been admitted to Rangamati General Hospital.
Samir Chakma, an activist of Democratic Youth Forum, was struck on the head with a machete. He has been admitted to hospital. The injured also include HWF vice-president Nirupa Chakma, Mita Chakma, Sharmila Chakma, Rimi Chakma, Shakil Chakma, Swarnalata Chakma, Gurimila Chakma, Sohagi Chakma, Binay Chakma and Riku Chakma.
The protesters also brought out processions at different places, including Naniarchar, Kawkhali, Manikchhari, Kutukchhari and Bilaichhari upazila headquarters.
They urged the government to immediate publish the report of the inquiry committee formed to investigate the Kalpana Chakma case.
Traffic on roads in the district and plying of launches on waterways remained suspended in the district during the six-hour blockade.
Kalpana Chakma, the then organising secretary of HWF, was kidnapped allegedly by army personnel from her house at New Lalyaghona of Baghaichhari on June 12 in 1996. She never returned.
The government formed an investigation committee but no report was published till date.