Wednesday, April 20, 2011

It was by sheer luck that I was spared: Tapan Kumar Chakma

News No. 85/2011, April 20, 2011

Tapan Kumar Chakma is a member of the United Peoples’ Democratic Front (UPDF). He is presently living in Naranghia, Khagrachari. He was one those Jumma passengers who had to go through an ordeal at Jaliapara on 17 April.

Mr. Chakma spoke to by mobile phone about his experience. We reproduce his interview below:

I was returning from Chittagong to Khagrachari by bus, Shanti Paribahan. The bus left Chittagong at 2:30pm. The bus number is Chatta Metro bo 11-2063.

When we were on the way, about 1 or 3 kilometers away from Jaliapara, we heard that trouble had begun between the Jummas and settlers.

One motorbike passenger, who was coming from the opposite direction, asked our driver not to proceed further as, he thought, the bus might come under attack.

We were five Jumma passengers in the bus. We also requested the driver not to proceed further in the interest of our safety and security. But he would not listen to us. He said “nothing will happen” and then re-started the bus.

At this moment, two BGB pick-ups came in front of our bus. There were 12 – 14 BGB personnel in pick-ups.

Some bus passengers asked the BGB men whether it would be safe for us to proceed. They said, “It’s ok, we are here, we will look into everything.”

Then our bus followed the BGB vans.

No sooner had we reached Jaliapara, the settlers stopped our bus. They got into the bus and began looking for Jumma passengers.

There were two Jumma passengers in a front row seats. The settlers dragged them off the bus and began beating mercilessly.

I saw the settlers throwing them into a drain in front of a mosque, after beating. I think they died while being beaten.

After about 2 hours, I saw another Jumma (believed to be dead) being taken away in a police van. They were beaten in front of the BGB men.

After all the passengers, except three of us, had got down, the driver locked the door of the bus.

We, three Jummas, remained inside the bus. The other two are a couple – Sonadhan Chakma and Chitra Chakma from Kobakhali, Dighinala.

The settlers repeatedly tried to break open the door of our bus to get us down.

I was sitting in a back seat. The settlers also tried to pull me down from the bus but failed. They pulled me from the bus window. However, they snatched away my mobile phone set and cash Taka 126,000 (one hundred twenty six thousand) from me.

The settlers also took away 2 mobile hand sets, a watch, cash Taka 6,000 (six thousand), ear rings and a golden necklace from the Jumma couple.

We spent breathless four and a half hours at Jaliapara. It was by sheer luck that we were spared.

However, an officer of Army Special Unit (ASU), whose name is Majid, did his utmost to save us. It was because of his efforts that we got saved.

At 10:30pm, section 144 was imposed, and we reached Khagrachari at 11pm.

By that time, the army and police intensified patrol on the road.

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