Violence spread over Sabita Chakma’s killing in Khagrachari, protest continues demanding justice for Sabita Chakma

Violence has spread in different parts of Khagrachari following Sabita Chakma’s killing in Kamalchari Union of Khagrachari district in the CHT. At least 11 people have been injured since 25 February 2014. Administration has imposed section 144 in order to ‘control’ the situation.

On 25 February 2014 at about 11:30 am, a group of Bengali settlers attacked the villagers with sharp weapons and sticks when funeral (sraddha) ceremony, a ritual done by the Chakma people after the death of someone, of Sabita Chakma was going on in Kamalchari areas of Khagrachari areas. Panekya Chakma alias Pandukya, 32, son of late Binoy Kumar Chakma and Ananda Lal Chakma, 45, late Surjo Mohon Chakma of the same village were seriously injured as the attackers hit them stroke with sticks and machete one after another. Panekay Chakma was admitted to Khagrachari General Hospital with serious injuries in his head and other parts of the body.

It is learnt that, on the day Bengali settlers of Bhuachari cluster village staged a human chain at Khagrachari Sadar in response to the case filed against the Bengali settlers involved with the case of killing after rape of Sabita Chakma. While they were passing by the village of Sabita Chakma they chanted offensive slogans against indigenous peoples and at some point hurled stones at two Chakma girls of that village. Learning that incident, the villagers who were at the funeral ceremony obstructed the Bengali settlers. As a result, settlers were forced to retreat and went towards the cremation ground of Kamalchari. On their way they found Panekya Chakma and Ananda Lal Chakma and cracked down over them with sharp weapons. At some point an Ansar member named Rasel was also seen to take part in the attack. Later the indigenous villagers managed to rescue the victims with serious injury.

The next day on 26 February 2014 at around 8:00 am, hundreds of Bengalis settlers from Bhuachari cluster cracked down the villagers of Betchari Christian Para of Kamalchari Union of Khagrachari with the plea that a 12 year-old Bengali kid was missing since the day before. In this attack, Bengali settlers destroyed the idols of Buddha, furniture and loudspeaker of a Buddhist temple named “Chaitya Adarsha Bouddha Vihara.” Indigenous villagers of Betchari came to know about this attack after a littler while and resisted vehemently this attack. As a result, clashes took place between both the parties, and at least five Bengalis settlers and three indigenous persons were injured. Two injured settlers named Alam and Mintu could only be identified. And names of two injured indigenous persons are:

  1. Bishwajit Chakma, 29, son of Bilas Chandra Chakma village-West Christian Para, Betchari, Kamalchari Union;
  2. Sukhamoy Chakma, 30, son of Anil Kumar Chakma, village- Sakrachara, Betchori, Kamalchari Union.

Besides, on the same day at around 11:00 am, in a separate incident the Bengali settlers of Bhuachari village attacked 3 indigenous villagers, who sustained serious injury. All of them are receiving treatment now at Khagrachari General Hospital. The names of the victims are:

  1. Biplob  Chakma, 30, son of Tara Chandra Chakma (Vogo)
  2. Rombapudi Chakma, 60, wife of Tara Chandra Chakma (Vogo)
  3. Mamuni Chakma, 18, daughter of Hekkala Chakma.

Following these incidents, according to the decisions of a ‘law and order’ meeting, Khagrachari District Administration imposed section 144 in the Kamalchari Union areas since 26 February to 28 February 2014.

Notably, following Sabita Chakma’s killing, both indigenous and Bengali organizations and individuals of different kind continued protest demonstrations in Dhaka, Chittagong, Khagrachari, Rangamati and Bandarban. Such protest demonstrations continue till 28 February. A human chain organized in front of the National Museum, Dhaka by the civic rights groups on 23 February 2014, facilitated by Kapaeeng Foundation, demanded justice for Sabita Chakma and asked the government to take initiatives to end violence against indigenous women. They called upon the police to handle the murder case of Sabita Chakma in an unbiased manner and immediately arrest the alleged person. The speakers also mentioned that at least 227 indigenous women were victims of violence like rape, murder, abduction, sexual harassment and physical assault from 2007-2013.

Mr. Ushatan Talukdar, Member of Parliament (MP) from Rangamati constituency, also demanded actions against the killers of Sabita Chakma during a parliament session on 26 February 2014. He stood up to speak on a point of order in the Jatiya Sangsad (national parliament) and expressed his concern over the killing of Sabita Chakma and communal attack against indigenous peoples in Khagrachari. He demanded to conduct judicial inquiry to the incident and urged to the Speaker of the Parliament to send a parliamentary team to the spot for on-site inquiry.

Notably, Sabita Chakma, 30, an indigenous Jumma woman from Chengi Char areas of Kamalchari in Khagrachari was killed allegedly after rape by some Bengali settlers on 15 February 2014.

A case was filed by victim’s husband Deba Ratan Chakma with the help of police. However, the case was manipulated and made deliberately weak by the police to save the perpetrators, using ignorance of Sabita Chakma’s husband, the complainant of the report. It is learnt that on 15 February in the evening, Deba Ratan Chakma, Bangamitra Chakma, member of Kamalchari union Binoy Bahu Chakma and Barabahu Chakma along with the name of suspected Bengali labourers and other necessary information went to the police station to file case. But they failed due to electricity problem. However, they handed over names of the suspected Bengali labourers to the police and then left police station for home. In the night, police composed statement/deposition excluding names of suspected labourers and took signature of Deba Ratan Chakma when he reached at police station on 16 February in the morning. As a result, the alleged killers are scot-free and concerned authorities are yet to take any action against them.