The dailystar News: Life wiped out of Shova's eyes in highlands of lost hope
>===== Original Message From Dhiman Chowdhury <hrcbm@...> =====Life wiped out of Shova's eyes in highlands of lost hope
Note: Minorities in Bangladesh are victims of "Genocide". A systematic and
planned annihilation is underway. The news herein will depict some of the
"Elements of Crime" as defined in the "Genocide convention" and preparatory
documents of "International Criminal Court". Please refer to Genocide
convention at http://www.hrcbm.org/genocide for further details.
Report: The Daily Star News:
Pinaki Roy back from Khagrachhari.
Padma Shova Chakma stared vacantly at her burnt-out house, holding a charcoal
of a betel nut tree. Piles of coal of what constituted her property a few days
ago were strewn all over.
Picture (courtesy: The Daily Star News): Hanging on......Villagers in
Lemuchhari stand around the remains of burnt-out houses after Bangalee
settlers set fire to them.
"I don't know why they ruined my life. I've lost everything. I don't know
where to go and what to do with my five daughters," Shova said, tears welling
up in her eyes.
The 40-year-old woman and her family lost everything at their Lemuchhari
village on the afternoon of August 26 when a mob of Bangalee settlers from
neighbouring Chanrachhari village torched their village at will.
Lemuchhari was not the lone village of indigenous people that was reduced to
ashes; seven other villages of Babupara, Pahartali, Keranganal, Durpajjanal,
Ramesshu Karbaripara, Sawmill Para and Basanta Para also stood in ruins.
Burnt-out houses, piles of charcoal and blackened trees marked the villages of
ethnic people. Only a few worn-out dishevelled villagers were milling around
the ruins of their house in the hope of salvaging the petty things for
rebuilding life. Most of them lost all their clothes, except for those they
"Many of us have been starving since the nightmare," said Paingcraio Marma, a
villager of Babupara. "Only a few lucky families have got rice handouts from
A few animals, mostly pariah dogs, pet pigs and poultry birds, roamed the
battered homesteads seemingly in a daze.
'SCORCHED EARTH' APPROACH
The indigenous people claim that Bangalees, both Hindu and Muslim, torched and
looted about 350 houses in the villages under Mahalchhari Police Station,
killing two and raping at least 10 women.
The marauders also ransacked three Buddhist temples and razed one and took
away four Buddha statues, they alleged.
The abduction of a Bangalee youth, Rupan Mahajan, allegedly by a gang of
indigenous people on August 24 triggered the violence.
Rupan's family said the hostage-takers demanded Tk 5 lakh in ransom.
"I was working at my yard, unaware of the disturbance brewing elsewhere.
Suddenly a group of 60 to 70 Bangalee settlers came shouting towards our
village. They were armed with machetes, sticks and spears and jerrycanful of
kerosene," said Shova.
"Before I could make out the situation, they stormed houses, looting and
burning everything. I saw some people of the neighbouring village with whom
our villagers had good relations, in an unbelievably marauding mood."
"Our villagers ran helter-skelter for cover. They were crying, calling out
relatives and running towards the Kalabanya jungle. I asked my daughters to
follow me and run to save life. We had no time to think of property or
She said the gang in their two-hour frenzied attack on the village torched all
the 63 houses one after another. "They looted valuables, farm animals and
burnt everything including rice, wheat and maize in their scorched earth
policy," Shova said.
"I came out of the jungle the next day to find the village of lost hope.
Nothing was standing, ashes of burnt thatched houses were scattered all over."
Proggajyoti Chakma of Lemuchhara village said some hills people rushed to the
police camp, just 100 metres off the village, to inform them of the raids, but
the law-enforcers never responded to their cries for help.
"We had no other way but to flee to the jungles," he said.
"Our people say the situation in all the eight villages is the same. Even
seven days into the arson, we've got only a handful handout of rice from the
government," Shova said.
She and other villagers like Joyotibikash Chakma, a schoolteacher, Sonaratan,
headman of the village, Amal Kumar Chakma, Union Parishad member -- all live
in the Kalabanya jungle.
They have no shelter and no way to save them from monsoon rains. Those who had
flimsy shelters in the jungles were drenched in the cloudburst yesterday.
Living a precarious life in the jungles is better than living in damaged
houses under the spectre of unceasing fear of mindless acts of bestiality, say
the indigenous people.
Avinas Chakma, a student of Dhaka State College and a resident of Babupara
village, had read about the incident when he was in Dhaka. He went to his home
village five days after the incident to see the scars of the plunder.
"What remain of my house are only ashes. If I tell the barbaric story to my
friends in Dhaka, they won't believe it. It's totally unbelievable in a
society that claims itself to be democratic," he said.
The indigenous people allege that the administration is soft-pedalling on
bringing the criminals to justice and trying to shift the blame onto rival
political groupings of indigenous people.
The administration has no definite information on how many houses were burnt
and how many indigenous people became homeless.
According to the indigenous people, 63 houses were burnt in Lemuchhari village
alone and the loss ranged between Tk 30,000 and Tk 12,00000 a house.
The Bangalee settlers say the violence was the act of ethnic people. Some of
them set fire to a house in their simmering conflict raging in the area and
the fire soon leapt to neighbouring houses and villages, they claim.
Local legislator Wadud Bhuiyan said it was not the Bangalees, but the
indigenous people were their own enemies.
The Prime Minister's Office is planning to allocate Tk 30 lakh for the
rehabilitation of the victims.