A 19-year old Jumma student was killed in a brutal torture of army in Naniarchar under Rangamati district. The victim was identified as Romel Chakma from Hatimara village under Burighat union of Naniarchar upazila in Rangamati district. He was a candidate of on-going Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) examination which started from 2 April 2017.
It is learnt that on 5 April 2017 at 10:00 am the army of 305 infantry brigade led by Major Syed Tanvir Saleh, G-2 of Rangamati region apprehended Romel Chakma from Naniarchar bazar while he was returning home after marketing of necessary daily goods. Then the army took him to Naniarchar zone headquarters and Lt. Col. Bahalul Alam and Major Tanvir inhumanly tortured him. While the condition of Romel Chakma turned to worse, the army tried to hand over to Naniarchar police station. However, police did not accept Romel Chakma due his critical condition. Then Romel Chakma was taken to Chittagong Medical College hospital with critical condition. On 19 April 2017 at 2:00 pm Romel Chakma died during treatment under police custody in Chittagong Medical College hospital.
It is also learnt that the dead body of Romel Chakma was seized by the army of Burighat camp from his parents and relatives while they were taking dead body by boat from Burighat bazar to Hatimara village on 20 April at 8:00 pm. Earlier, police brought dead body by ambulance from Chittagong to Burighat bazar in Naniarchar and handed the dead body over to relatives of deceased. It is reported during preparation of this report that army themselves did the cremation of dead body of Romel Chakma on 21 April instead of giving back to relatives.
Kanti Chakma, father of Romel Chakma, sent an application to the Chairman of National Human Rights Commission seeking justice against arrest and torture of his son on 6 April 2017. The Commission did not take any action so far.
It is mentionable that recently, military forces have intensified arbitrary arrest, brutal torture, harassment, putting into the jail upon Jumma peoples and rights activists engaged in the movement and propaganda against the just movement of Jumma peoples for their legitimate rights labelling them armed terrorists, extortionists, miscreants and separatists.
For instances, on 31 March 2017 an elected member of Raikhali Union Parishad and his son were arrested after planting explosive materials and brutally tortured by 19 Battalion BGB personnel of Wagga BGB zone under Kaptai upazila in Rangamati district. On 19 March 2017, army arrested another three Jumma businessmen from Rangapani in Rangamati district who were sent to jail and tortured brutally, even giving electronic shock on their penis.
During the searching operation for consecutive three days on 24-26 February 2017, army led by Lt. Shahriar of 21 Bengal from Rajmuni Para Camp under Jurachari zone apprehended 7 from Morichyabil village of Rangamati Sadar Upazila under Rangamati district while they were loading and unloading their goods and inhumanly tortured 3 of them.
In a consecutive searching operations at Bagmara under Noapating unon in Rowangchari upazila of Bandarban district on 4-6 February 2017, army from Rowangchari camp under Bandarban zone of 19 Bir Bengal arrested four persons including an elected member of Noapatong Union Parishad and beaten up 6 innocent persons in the camp.
The Supreme Court in one of its rulings restrained law enforcement agencies from making arbitrary arrests on suspicion. However, in spite of the ruling, there is a growing trend of making arbitrary arrests, detention and enforced disappearances in the country and members of law enforcement agencies involved in such crimes enjoy full impunity. In 2016, 80 activists including 3 public representatives were arrested and more than 81 persons were detained for couple of hours and days. All of them were brutally tortured.
It is also alarming that the recurrence of arbitrary arrests, detentions and extrajudicial killings on indigenous peoples intensified terrifyingly in recent years. For example, as against only 74 persons who were indicted in 2015, arbitrary arrest and detention were stood as many as 191 persons in 2016.
CHT News Services is an independent online news services on the situation of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), south-eastern part of Bangladesh which is the home of multi-lingual indigenous Jumma peoples.