‘No alternative to return stolen weapons’: Bawm leaders issue stern warning to KNF

BANDARBAN CORRESPONDENT

Leaders of the Bawm Social Council in Bandarban have issued a strong warning to the Kuki Chin National Front (KNF), urging them to return to peace talks.

This comes after a recent bank robbery in the region resulted in the theft of 14 weapons.

In a 22-minute video message released in the Bawm language, Rev. Lalzar Lom Bawm, president of the Bawm Social Council, said, “We no longer want conflict; we want peace. This is why we have come together to address and appeal to the leaders of KNF.”

Rev. Lalzar Lom Bawm acknowledged that tensions between the KNF and the government began in 2022 and predate the current council’s leadership.

He highlighted the devastating impact of the bank robberies in Ruma and Thanchi upazilas on April 2nd and 3rd, which forced many Bawm villagers to flee their homes, with some even seeking refuge across the border.

The Bawm community, particularly those living in the hills, are now facing severe food shortages. While the Bawm community was expected to earn millions of taka by selling fruits like mangoes and pineapples, they have been forced to flee their homes. Many have even fled to the forests and jungles, relying on banana plants for sustenance due to the lack of food. The Bawm community is enduring extreme hardship, which the government attributes to the theft of the 14 weapons, he said.

“We have not gathered here at the request or directive of the government, but at the call and request of the ordinary people of the Bawm community,” Rev. Lalzar Lom Bawm clarified. “The sole demand of the Bawm community is that the weapons stolen during the bank robbery from the nation’s defence forces be returned immediately.”

He also emphasized that it is currently the season for jhum cultivation in the hills, but people are afraid to work in the fields for fear of being shot. “On behalf of all the people of the Bawm community, we request that our past good relations with the government be restored,” he pleaded.

Rev. Lalzar Lom Bawm reiterated that there is no alternative solution other than the return of the stolen government weapons.

The video message also featured the general secretary of the Bawm Social Council, Lal Thang Juwal Bawm, along with Jewel Bawm, a member of the Bandarban Hill District Council, Thang Kham Lian Bawm, the vice chairman of the Ruma Upazila Council, and 10-15 other leaders of the Bawm Social Council.

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