50 houses torched, 3 assaulted and a Buddhist temple vandalised in a massive arson attack on indigenous Jumma villages by Bengali settlers in Rangamatifollowing settlers’ pineapple plantation ravaged

On 16 December 2014, when whole countrywas celebrating the victory day of the country, indigenous houses and shops were burnt down by Bengali settlers in Bagachari area under Burighat union of Naniarcharupazila inRangamati district. The arson attack by Bengal settlers was made allegedly in connection with land grabbing.

On that day between 6:00 am-7:00 am, a mob of Bengali settlers of Islampur andBagachhari villages underBurighat union set fire on neighboring three indigenous villages. As a result, 37 houses ofChhuridaspara, 6 houses of NabinKarbari Para and 7 houses of Baghachari were completely burnt down. Samesettlers also burnt down 7 shops at Ananda Bazar areas of Chouddomel.

Besides, KarunaKutir, a Buddhist temple, of Bagachhariwas vandalized by the settlers.At that time some idols of Lord Buddha were broken down and five brass-made idols were looted by them. A Buddhist monk named UbasaTheropresent there was also physically assaultedduring the attack. At some point the settlers were even preparing to burn the temple down, but hindered by the members of military present there.

Notably, earlierBengali settlers including Abchar Master, Azad, and AbulKalamgrabbed around 4.75 acres of land of Nishi Kumar Chakmaof Bagachari village and developed pineapple fields on that land. Bengali settlers alleged that on the night before the attack was made, a group of unknown miscreants of indigenous Jumma peoplechopped those plants and pineapplesdown. In the morning when Bengali settlers learnt about the incident, they got angry and spread communal sentiment. They started to attack and set fire on Jumma houses. At that time, the Jumma villagers tried to resist Bengali settlers. Shortly, agroup of Bangladesh Army led by 2IC (Second in Command) Major Rakib of Naniarchar Zone under 56 Bengalalso went to visit the spot. Local Jumma villagers alleged that Bengali settlers set fire on nearby indigenous Jumma villages at the presence of the members of the Army.

No case has been filed in this connection. Later, commanding officer of Naniarchar zone Lt Col Mohammad Sohel, Deputy Commissioner of Rangamati district Mostafa Kamal, Superintendent of Police Amena Begum, chairman of NaniarcharUpazilaParishadShaktiman Chakma rushed to the spot. Deputy Commissioner provided taka 100,000 for victims of Jumma villagers and also declared two bundles of CIT sheet and two blankets for each Jumma family.  An eleven-member probe committee led by NaniarcharUpazilaParishadchairman ShaktimanChakma was formed to investigate the incident.

Tension is still prevailing in the region. Several indigenous organizations have been organizing protest demonstrations in different parts of the country against this incident.