Reza Mahmud :
The people have demanded permanent camps of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) onurgent basis in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) for security reason and to punish the tribal armed gangs.
Three armed gangs are active in the CHT. They are involved with killing, abductions, raping, extortions and toll collections, and pose a great threat to the peace-loving people there. Jana Sanghati Samity (Santu Larma), Jana Sanghati Samity (reforms) and UPDF reportedly nurture the unlawful gangs in Rangamati, Khagrachhari and Bandarban districts.
Consequently, the Bengali speaking people fear eviction from the CHT by the armed gangs. That is why they are demanding permanent RAB camps in different remote points to save and to ensure them security.
The Home Minister said, “We may mobilise a battalion of RAB in CHT in case of necessary.” He said it last December while opening new building of Ramgarh Police Station in Khagrachhari.
“We are in very vulnerable situations. The JSS (Santu), JSS (reform) and UPDF are forcibly collecting extortions and toll permanently. They have huge illegal weapons like Kalashnikov Rifles. No one dare file cases against their extortion and oppressions,” said a local Awami League leader from Chakma tribes, preferring anonymity.
He said, “If we sell a bunch of banana or a piece of egg or anything else in the market, then we must give fixed amount of money as toll to the armed groups.”
Dilip Kumar Banik, the Deputy Commissioner of Bandarban district said, “The three armed groups are involved with limitless extortions and toll collection from the people. There none to get rid of paying toll regardless of profession and religious link.
He said it while addressing a meeting about the district’s law and order situation. Officials from the law enforcer forces, senior governmental officers, businessmen and the eminent people of the district, were present in the meeting.
Syed Tarikul Hasan, the Police Super of Rangamati said, “The victims of remote areas are afraid of filing complaints against the terrorists. But we are active to catch the criminals.”
Intelligence report says, the armed gangs collect about Tk 400 crore every year. Nearly 5,000 trained armed men are involved in toll collection.
The local people and the officials from security services said if any one dare refuse pay extortion or toll money or file case against the terrorists, he would surely be killed or abducted. Every day lots of torturing and raping incidents are occurred by the armed groups, but these are not published in almost all the newspapers nor telecast by the television channels for mysterious reasons.
The peace loving tribal and non-tribal people accuse the armed groups of establising reign of terror and collecting money at gun point.
” Use of firearms at free will and toll collection are the major problems facing the Bengali speaking people, in particular, in the three districts. The administrations should give priority to recover illegal arms from the gangs and stop toll collecting,” said Dipankar Talukdar, Awami League Rangamati district unit President and former CHT Affairs State Minister. He said it to this correspondent recently in his Rangamati residence.
Meanwhile, Feroza Begum Chinu, MP, from the CHT said, “The terrorists gangs are ruining peace in the area spreading panic. They forcibly collect tolls from the people.”
She said, “To recover illegal fire arms is the main challenge now. The Police have limitations for shortage of manpower. Besides, the conspirators are spreading propaganda against the Bangladesh Army posted there. In this situation, the people demand RAB camps in CHT to recover firearms and restore normal law and order situation.” She said it while this correspondent met her recently in her Rangamati residence.
According to the hill people, the JSS (Santu) and JSS (reforms) collect Tk 5000 annually per Bus, and UPDF collect Tk 3000. They collect Tk 6000 per truck annually and Tk 2000 to 3000 from passenger carrying Jeeps locally known as ‘Chander gari.’
In addition, the tribal groups collect fixed amount of money from the service holders. They issued letter to the service holders to pay the money regularly. They collect toll Tk 30 for 40 kg’s of Turmeric, Tk 500 for 40 kgs of Ginger, Tk 500 for 40 kgs of Fish, Tk 40 for 20 pieces of Litchi, Mango and Pineapples, Tk five from for Jack fruit, monthly Tk 300 from grocery shops, Tk 500 for selling a cow and Tk 300 for buying, Tk 100 for transporting business goods one time by boat, Tk one lakh annually in case of giving a forest lease and Tk 50,000 annually for saw mill trading.
But the JSS Assistant Publicity Secretary Sajib Chakma denied the allegation saying, “We are working for the welfare of the hill people. Someone may collect toll in the name of our organisation.”
The UPDF Publicity Department head Niron Chakma also denied it. He said, “Our party is running with the fund given by people of hilly area.”
Source: The NewNation.