UPDF calls for government action against Santu Larma to ensure peace in Chittagong Hill Tracts

STAFF CORRESPONDENTS, KHAGRACHHARI, RANGAMATI

In the interest of peace, stability, and development in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, the Vice-President of the United People’s Democratic Front (UPDF) Central Committee, Nutun Kumar Chakma, has requested the government to take action against Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, also known as Santu Larma. Larma is the Chairman of the Regional Council, President of the Parbatya Chattogram Jana Samhati Samiti, and a former guerrilla leader. This request was made through an official letter.

The information was revealed in a press release signed by Niron Chakma, head of the central committee’s publicity and publication department, and distributed to the media on Thursday (May 30).

According to the press release, the government appointed Santu Larma as the Chairman of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council in 1998 following an agreement. Despite holding the position for 25 years, no elections have been conducted within the institution. Larma has been criticized for his prolonged tenure without showing significant progress.

Even though he holds the rank of a state minister and serves as chairman, Larma is accused of maintaining an armed group for his personal interests, a fact he admitted in an exclusive interview with a private television channel. There is no previous precedent in Bangladesh for someone of state minister rank to maintain a private armed force.

The press release further alleges that Santu Larma uses his armed group to kill, injure, and kidnap leaders and activists of opposing political parties. Over the past 25 years, hundreds of leaders and activists from UPDF, Awami League, and JSS (Reformed) have been killed by his armed group.

To date, 277 UPDF members have reportedly been killed by this JSS, along with ten Awami League members, including the President of Bilaichhari Awami League, Suresh Kanti Tanchangya. Santu Larma discussed these killings in an interview with a national newspaper on November 13, 2000.

In the press release, the UPDF leader emphasized that individuals who violate the country’s laws by fostering terrorism should not hold positions in important state institutions. He called for legal and administrative action against Santu Larma under section 41 of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council Act.

Earlier on Thursday morning, a delegation on behalf of UPDF Vice-President Nutun Kumar Chakma handed over a letter addressed to the Prime Minister to the executive officer of Panchhari Upazila in Khagrachhari district.

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