Follow-Up of Longadu Arson Attack: Relatives of Guna Mala & affected Jummas fear denial of justice: Allegation of killing time in DNA test

The affected Jumma villagers of Longadu arson attack and relatives of deceased Guna Mala Chakma expressed their fear of denial of justice. Out of four complaints filed by affected Jumma villagers with Longadu police station, only one complaint was accepted as a case, rest of other three were registered as General Diary. Though 28 Bengali settlers were arrested in connection with the arson attack, the masterminds of this arson attack belong to ruling party have not been arrested as yet. Even some settlers among from 28 arrestees were released on bail by the local court. It is learnt that government granted BDT 500,000 for each family for construction of houses of affected Jumma villagers.

The relatives of deceased Guna Mala Chakma alleged that Guna Mala Chakma (75) died in fire burn inside house of Chairman of Longadu Union Parishad Kulin Mitra Chakma during arson attack of indigenous Jumma people in Tintila, Manikjorchara and Batyapara villages under Longadu upazila (sub-district) of Rangamati hill district on 2 June 2017. Kala Sona Chakma, daughter of Guna Mala Chakma had though filed up a case with Longadu Police Station over the incident, the police accepted it as only a General Diary having no. 904 on 20 June 2017.

Burnt remains and bones of elderly woman Guna Mala Chakma

Josheph Chakma, son-in-law of deceased Guna Mala Chakma informed that his mother-in-law used to stay with his family. As his house was vulnerable of possible attack for being located by the road side, he managed to shift his elderly mother-in-law  in the house of Kulin Mitra Chakma, Chairman of Longadu Union Parishad on 2 June 2017 as Chairman’s house is a bit far from the road.

Kulin Mitra Chakma said that after bringing Guna Mala Chakma in the morning and having breakfast, he was talking to her. By that moment, setting fire in the houses began all of a sudden. He could somehow have got out of his house and hid in the bushes nearby. But Guna Mala could not escape as she was too old to move quickly and she remained in the house. Before setting fire, I heard Guna Mala shouting: “Why are you hitting me? I committed nothing as such!” Soon the house got into flame and burnt to ashes. As I sensed the situation quiet and calm, I came out of the bushes and found Guna Mala’s remains of skeleton lying in the ashes. We informed the administration about it but it has been an utter surprise that the administration does not believe it till now. We have collected and preserved the ash-turned skeleton of Guna Mala.

Kala Sona Chakma, daughter of Guna Mala Chakma and also wife of Joseph Chakma deplored in regret saying: “ It is painful to us that the administration does not admit my mother’s death in fire burn. As complainant, I lodged a complaint with the police station and I was told that the complaint was registered as a suit. But later I came to learn that my complaint was registered as a ‘General Diary’ only. Now, I cannot make out what to do in that regard. I have collected my mother’s remains and as per rituals, the week-end formalities of my departed mother was performed on 11 June 2017. That my mother died in arson attack is well known to all but it is the administration that does not want to admit it.

Senior Lawyer Pratim Roy Pampu of Rangamati Bar Association remarked: “That this incident is one of the best illustrations of culture of lacking justice in CHT. Guna Mala Chakma died in fire burn due to arson. The local representatives and relatives of the deceased confirmed the incident. The news was published in various national dailies on 3 June, the following day of the incident. Whereas, the local police and administration stepped no measure to that affect.

It has been nothing like an ordinary complaint but of a cold murder but the complaint was not taken for a legal suit. Though an Ejahar (complaint) was filed but the police did not accept it to that affect, which could be worthy for filing up a case. The police ought to organize a medical board and collect the clues and evidences. But nothing came to notice to that regard. Now it has passed one month and clues are getting disappeared. The administration cannot evade the responsibility of such negligence.

The Officer-in-Charge of Longadu police station, Mominul Islam said: “We are investigating the complaint of Kala Sona Chakma along with the cases filed on arson incident. We have collected the claimed bone-ashes of Guna Mala and sent them for DNA Test.

Ms. Banchita Chakma, member of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said: “The matter was apprised to me during my on-site visit to Longadu. I requested the police to look into the matter with importance. It has been a major complaint that an old-age woman was died in arson incident. It seems that it will get delayed in the name of DNA test. This cannot let happen that the victim will not receive justice despite demanding for so. The clues and evidences get destroyed with the passage of time and loses importance alongside. Consequently, justice cannot get established.

Mohammad Safiul Saroar, the Additional Superintendent of Police (Crime) said: “We have collected the ash bones and sent to CID (Criminal Investigation Department) for DNA test. On receiving the report, having the complaint filed as a case, we will take legal measures.”

It is worth-mentioning that the death body of motor driver Mohammad Nurul Islam Nayan was found by Dighinala-Khagrachhari roadside in Char Mile area of Khagrachari Sadar upazila on 1 June 2017. On a hire drive, he went to Khagrachari from Longadu with 2 passengers aboard. When the dead body was brought to Longadu on the following day, the 2nd June 2017, the Bengali settlers led by the ruling party Awami League and Juba League started a protest rally from Batyapara with the dead body under guard of the police and army forces. As the rally reached Tintila, the village of indigenous Jumma people, the Bengali settlers began setting fire in the houses of Jumma people. This arson attack claimed 224 houses of 4 villages completely burnt down while 88 houses partially damaged. The police arrested two persons in connection with the Nayan’s killing.

Two separate cases were filed on arson incident by the police and victims respectively. Centering the incident, 28 persons have been arrested.

Over this violent incident, the Assistant Sub-Inspector of Longadu Police Station, Dulal Hossain filed a case with Longadu police station against 15 persons by names and some 300–400 unknown parsons on allegations of their involvement in setting fire in the living houses of indigenous Jumma people and prevention from performing government duty on 2 June 2017. Besides, the following 4 Ejahars (complaints) were filed with the Longadu police station by the affected Jumma people:

  1. A case was filed with Longadu police station by Kishore Chakma of Tintila village under Longadu Upazila, against 98 persons by names and some 300 to 400 Bengali settlers on allegation of illegal encroachment, looting and arson on 10 June 2017.
  2. Kulin Mitra Chakma, Chairman of No.7 Longadu Union Parishad, filed a case with Longadu police station alleging 4 persons by names and 50–60 Bengali settlers involved in the killing of Guna Mala Chakma by way of throwing her into the flames, on 10 June 2017.
  3. Another case, having 13 persons mentioned by names and unknown 50–60 Bengali settlers alleging to have involved in the killing of her mother Guna Mala Chakma in burning fire during looting and arson in the houses of Jumma people, was filed by Kala Sona Chakma, an inhabitant of Tintila village on 20 June 2017.
  4. Samiran Chakma, an inhabitant of Batya Para filed a case with Longadu police station on 27 June 2017 alleging 41 persons by names and 60–70 Bengali settlers to have involved in looting and arson in the houses of the Jumma people.

It is of great wonder that from among the 4 Ejahars (complaints) filed by the affected people as aforesaid, it was only the Ejahar filed by Kishore Chakma, was accepted and noted down as a case. But the rest of 3 other Ejahars were registered as General Diary. It for not having accepted the Ejahars as suits, the affected Jumma people fear for probable denial of justice.

However, a total of 28 Bengali settlers including 7 persons in connection with the case filed by Dulal Hossain and Kishore Chakma. It is learnt that the persons who have been arrested so far, belong to the BNP and other political parties. The mastermind of this arson attack hailing from the ruling party Awami League and Juba League responsible for conducting of looting and arson have remained untouched as yet. Besides, no action has been taken against the police and army personnel who had extended assistance to the marauders of Bengali settlers in looting and arson. No legal measure has been undertaken by the department concerned against the ones of the parties, namely, Longadu Army Zone Commander Lt. Colonel Abdul Alim Choudhury PSC, 2IC Major Rafiq and Subedar Major Mohammad Rafiq of 2 EBR and Mominul Islam, Officer-In-Charge of Longadu police station.

It is to be mentioned further that a fabricated case was filed with the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Rangamati Hill district by one Mohammad Mahabub Mian, a Bengali settler of Muslim Block of Mainimukh Union under Longadu upazila alleging 44 Jumma villagers by names and unknown 150 hill men to have involved in kidnapping and killing of motor driver Nurul Islam Nayan and attacking and setting fire in the houses of Bengali settlers. A letter from the said Chief Judicial Magistrate was sent to the Longadu police station directing to submit a report after investigation. It is learnt that up till the time of writing this report, no report was deposited with the court on part of the Longadu police station.

On the other hand, earlier a murder case was filed with Khagrachari police station of Khagrachhari hill district by Batya Para resident Mohammad Din Islam (Liton), brother of deceased motor driver Nurul Islam Nayan on 1 June 2017. Later on, it came to knowledge that 2 persons named, Junel Chakma (33) of East Rangi Para under Maini Mukh Union of Longadu and Ronel Chakma (33) of Babuchara under Dighinala Upazila were arrested from Thoaj Nagar Adim Para under Karnafuli police station of Chittagong district in connection to this case.