The September 22 violence in Rangamati town was a consequence of a trivial issue three days back — over seating arrangement on a bus between two students of two communities, settler Muslim and indigenous Buddhist.
Following this, a turmoil was seen on the college campus the next day between the two community students. It might also spread throughout the town since on Saturday, Sept 22, the violence spread fast in the town from a classroom of the college.
The district administration’s probe committee formed following the incident has prepared its report and submitted it to the deputy commissioner.
It has found that the violence that left over 100 people, mostly the minority community, was a result of some longstanding issues: persistent division between the two communities, delay in implementation of the 1997 peace accord, stalled land resolution activities and incidents of extortionist by some organisations.
The probe body also warned that a vested quarter might have been trying to create chaos.
It said the attack was first launched by 15-16 settlers, who were outsiders, in a classroom where ab unknown settler Bangaleee was sitting beforehand. The attackers called him outside just after the first class began at 10am and then collectively attacked on the indigenous students.
Soon a rumour spread in the college and elsewhere that the indigenous students attacked settlers in a nearby technical training centre. And the next happenings are all known through media.
Though the report is not satisfactory that much, the probe body identified nine people for instigating the violence.
Rangamati, a prime spot for tourists, falls under the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) — a vulnerable area. It had once been a place for the indigenous people only until the ’80s when the government launched ‘operation uttoron’ with the help of over 30000 army personnel and then the government alloted lands for Bangaleee people in the region to quell a guerrilla warfare.
However, the strategy has been proved to ne wrong as chaos is ever increasing there despite the signing of a peace treaty in 1997 between the government and PCJSS led by Santu Larma.
And, due to the unwillingness of the subsequent government, the execution of the landmark treaty is yet to see a positive change, except for the halt of the war.
When the pro-liberation Awami League, which initiated the peace accord, is in power now, people are hopeful, as I am, that the party would be cordial enough to make the region a heaven by ensuring co-existence of the different communities.
Thanks to Prothom Alo’s correspondent Hari Kishore Chakma.