KNF fear paralyzes three upazilas in Bandarban, leaving public in extreme distress
ROVING CORRESPONDENT, PARBATTA NEWS
Life in the upazilas of Thanchi, Ruma, and Rowangchari in Bandarban has ground to a halt due to the criminal activities of the Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF), an armed terrorist organization. Its negative impact on the lives of the people in these areas has been immense, with millions forced to endure misery and fear. Many have fled their villages and sought refuge elsewhere to escape the KNF’s reign of terror.
Members of the KNF have been causing havoc in Thanchi, Ruma, and Rowangchari upazilas of Bandarban by obstructing the movement of vehicles through various criminal activities such as placing trees on the roads and demolishing the foundations of some bridges. These activities have severely impacted the local people who are unable to market agricultural produce or purchase daily necessities.
Furthermore, due to the disruption of transportation, many are unable to send their children to school or take them to the hospital for treatment. Tourist travel has also been banned, resulting in a negative impact on the economy of the region.
Sources report that since last October, joint forces have been conducting an operation in the hills after receiving information that the Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF) organization was training militants from the plains. As part of this campaign, the administration imposed a ban on tourist travel in three upazilas: Thanchi, Ruma, and Rowangchari, which remains in effect to this day.
The ban on tourist travel has severely impacted the movement of people in several neighborhoods, including Lungweer Para, Painowam Para, Solopi Para, Dulichang Para, and Thamlo Para in Wards No. 4, 5, and 6 of Ruma Upazila’s No. 4 Remakri Prangsa Union. According to locals, as Ruma Upazila is far away, they rely on buying and selling daily necessities at Thanchi market for their livelihoods.
On March 11th, a government development worker was accidentally fired upon by members of the Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF) at a place called Baom Para. Two construction workers were killed, and four others were injured in the incident. The following day, the same location saw the abduction of 21 workers, including contractors, who were later released after two days. The KNF has also engaged in activities such as obstructing roads with trees and breaking bridge decks. As a result, people from 30-35 neighbourhoods, including Wards No. 8 and No. 9 of Tindu Union No. 2 of Thanchi Upazila, are forced to live in miserable conditions.
Thanchi Market is bustling on Sundays and Mondays when locals from Sitlangpi Para and Remong Para come to buy and sell their goods. When asked about the situation in the area, they spoke to each other in the local language, which piqued the curiosity of the roving correspondent of Parbatta News. Later, the locals revealed that they were not doing well and shared their concerns anonymously in a quiet location.
While speaking, they lowered their heads and their voices trembled with emotion. Tears welled up in their eyes, betraying their fear. After a moment of silence, they grasped the reporter’s hand tightly and repeated, “Around 30 to 35 neighborhoods, including Singtlangpi Para, Nipiu Para, Dulichan Para, Thangdoy Para, Remong Para, Bolding Para, Kaitong Para, Sarkar Para, Shahjahan Para, Jinnah Para, Salukya Para, are unable to function properly. They cannot tend to their jhum cultivation and are struggling to make ends meet in this volatile environment. They face difficulties with everything, including movement.” Their anxious demeanor reflected the tension and anxiety prevalent in the area.
They further explained that the local residents in 30 to 35 villages are unable to lead a normal life. They cannot engage in their usual jhum cultivation, which is their main source of livelihood. They expressed concerns about the members of the Kuki-Chin National Front, who require provisions such as food and even dogs for food. Additionally, the boys and girls are not able to attend school regularly, and people cannot travel to the market without fear. To make matters worse, they are unable to buy and sell essential goods such as bananas, cashews, mangoes, turmeric, almonds, sesame seeds, and pepper that are produced in their jhum and fruit gardens.
They also reported that some villagers try to reach the Thanchi market, but due to a lack of transportation, they are unable to buy essential goods. Furthermore, the village roads are blocked with trees and other objects, making it impossible to travel for special needs. As a result, people from these areas have had to leave their homes and take shelter in their relatives’ houses. They also mentioned that residents need permission to sell their crops produced in the gardens, and if they cannot sell them now, they will be left with no food to eat.
They further added, “The situation is critical for us. We are not safe in our own homes. KNF members demand things from us, including food and even pets like dogs. Our lives are in constant fear, and we cannot go about our daily activities as we used to. Our children cannot attend school regularly, and our businesses are suffering greatly. We cannot sell our produce, such as bananas, cashews, mangoes, turmeric, almonds, sesame seeds, and pepper, which are grown in our gardens. Although some people manage to reach the Thanchi market, transportation is limited, and they cannot buy essential goods. The roads are blocked with trees and other objects, making it difficult to travel even for special needs. Many people have left their homes and taken shelter with relatives. We need permission to sell our crops; otherwise, we will go hungry.”
Tourist Guide Welfare Association President Manuel Tripura Eamon expressed to Parbatta News, “Due to the ban on tourism, two hundred tourist guides, hundreds of hotels and resorts, and thousands of boatmen have lost their jobs and are struggling to make ends meet.” He further added that the tourism industry’s closure has impacted around 2,000 families, with their children’s education being one of the many challenges they face.
When asked about this, Bhagya Chandra Tripura, Chairman of Tindu Union No. 2, told Parbatta News, “Until now, we were relying on the law enforcement and security forces to address the issue as it is a national problem. However, now we have decided to engage with local people and find a way for a prompt resolution. Only after that, we will accept the cooperation of law enforcement agencies.”
General Secretary of Thanchi Upazila Awami League and Chairman of Thanchi Sadar Union Parishad Angpru Mro told Parbatta News, “More than 500 people from 10 to 15 villages in Wards 8 and 9 of my union are in fear because of the KNF.. Various problems have arisen in the area. Locals are living a miserable life. I discussed with them (KNF) through union members how to restore peace in the hills. I asked for bilateral talks, but they (KNF) did not heed our words.
General Secretary of Thanchi Upazila Awami League and Chairman of Thanchi Sadar Union Parishad, Angpru Mro, spoke to Parbatta News about the situation. He said, “More than 500 people from 10 to 15 villages in Wards 8 and 9 of my union are living in fear due to the KNF. Various problems have arisen in the area, and locals are leading a miserable life. I have attempted to discuss with the KNF through union members to restore peace in the hills. I asked for bilateral talks, but the KNF did not heed our words.”
He also stated that preparations are underway to organize protest meetings and human chains against the KNF, along with the residents of the area. He also appealed to higher authorities in the government to intervene in the matter.
When asked about the situation, Officer-in-Charge Imdadul Haque of the Thanchi Police Station told Parbatta News, “We are in constant communication with senior officials to restore peace in the hills and stabilize the situation.”
Upazila executive officer Md. Abul Mansoor told Parbatta News, “Discussions are ongoing with senior officials for peace in the area in combination with the administration and public representatives.” This issue will be resolved soon through a decision.
Upazila Executive Officer Md. Abul Mansoor told Parbatta News that ongoing discussions with senior officials are taking place for peace in the area, in combination with the administration and public representatives. He expressed confidence that the issue will be resolved soon through a decision.