Rights group demands judicial probe into CHT arson attacks
Tuesday, 06 May 2008


A rights group on Monday demanded the formation of a judicial commission to investigate the April 20 arson attacks on the houses of indigenous people and Bangalee settlers in remote Sajek area of Rangamati.

Representatives of Nagorik Samaj, a platform for lawyers, politicians, human-rights workers and teachers, visited the scene and pressed the demand at a press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity.

Barrister Sara Hossain who led the delegation to the Chittagong Hill Tracts spoke at the press conference. Other members of the team Gano Forum leader Pankaj Bhattacharya, Abu Ahmed Faizul Kabir of Ain O Salish Kendro and Dhaka University teacher Robayet Ferdous were also present.

A written statement distributed among reporters alleged that many indigenous people had left the area for fear of life. "Affected people are living in the open," the statement said. It said: "Hill people think the Bangalee settlers set fire to their houses.

On the other hand, the Bangalees think outsiders set their houses ablaze." Sara Hossain said: "Tension is simmering between the indigenous and Bangalees.

It was the duty of the security forces to mitigate the tension." Pankaj Bhattacharya said: "Such incidents are occurring repeatedly in the CHT as the peace agreement has not been implemented completely."

"I went to Sajek four years ago but did not see any Bangalee settlement there." The press conference demanded formation of a land commission to settle land disputes in the CHT and the civil administration be made effective.

Earlier, a team led by Jahangirnagar University teacher Manosh Chowdhury visited Sajek area and demanded formation of a judicial committee to probe the incident from a separate press conference on Friday.

Arsonists attacked and burnt 132 houses in seven villagers of Sajek union.

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