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Thursday, October 6, 2022

Indigenous Tripuri woman gang-raped by Muslim boyfriend and 5 others in Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh

An indigenous Tripuri woman was gang-raped by her boyfriend Nurul Huda & five other settlers in Bandarban district, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh. The incident happened on 31 Aug at a plantation in Aziznagar Union, reports the @SaveCHT handle on twitter.

As per HillVoice.net, the woman, a widow, was duped in a relationship by Nurul Huda (28) who asked her to come on that day to get married. She was also asked to bring 30000 taka (INR 26,000) by her boyfriend, which was robbed by him and the other rapists. A case has been filed but no one has been arrested yet.

A few days back, an indigenous college girl was raped in CHT by Alim Al Razi Babu, Managing Director of a co-operative society. Shops and markets set up by locals in CHT are also frequently ransacked by Bangladesh security forces and border guards.

Such incidents are quite common in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) region of south-east Bangladesh which borders the Bharatiya states of Mizoram and Tripura. The indigenous inhabitants of CHT, also known as Jumma people, are mostly tribals like Chakmas (Buddhist), Tripuri (Hindus) and others. Hajong (Hindu) tribals are also indigenous to CHT but have mostly fled to Bharat to escape persecution.

Even though the region was pre-dominantly Hindu and Buddhist, it was made part of Pakistan by the departing British during partition. Ever since Independence, they have been facing persecution at hands of the majority Muslim population of East Pakistan, and later Bangladesh.

CHT (area colored light green)

As per research studies, human rights groups and other sources –

“In 1971, following the Bangladesh Liberation War in which Bangladesh achieved independence due to the Indian Army, the country’s majority Bengali Muslims began strategically colonising CHT and displaced the Jumma people. Between 1978 and 1984, the government incentivised over 400,000 Bengali Muslims to settle in the CHT, by offering each family 5 acres of land and free food rations.

Between 1979 and 1997, Bengali Muslim settlers and the Bangladesh military carried out over 15 major massacres of Buddhist peoples in the CHT. Due to the outbreaks of violence, communal and social unrest, many fled to the Indian states of Mizoram and Tripura, or to Myanmar. There are documented reports of systematic accounts of torture and extrajudicial executions of tribal inhabitants of the Chittagong Hill Tracts by security forces during 1989 and 1990.

Human Rights Watch has consistently reported that “indigenous groups in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) have for decades faced discrimination, forced displacement, assaults, evictions, and destruction of property by both Bangladeshi security forces and Bengali settlers from elsewhere in the country. Bengali settlers and soldiers have raped native Jumma women “with impunity” with the Bangladeshi security forces doing little to protect the Jummas and instead assisting the rapists and settlers. In June 2017, Bengali rioters burned 100 indigenous homes in Langadu, reportedly even as army and police looked on.”

At the time of partition, it is estimated that 98.5% of population of CHT was indigenous (Hindu or Buddhist) but today, of the 1.6 million people residing in CHT, around half are settler Bengali Muslims.

Indigenous people from CHT have sought refuge in Bharat in several phases since their inclusion in East Pakistan. Over 50 thousand of them were sheltered in different relief camps in Tripura and Mizoram in 1986. Many were later relocated to Arunachal Pradesh. The last group of Chakma refugees sought asylum in Tripura in 2013. They were later sent back. The refugees who returned to Bangladesh after the 1998 peace accord are living a pitiable existence in CHT with most still deprived of the promised rehabilitation.

There are over 2 lakh Chakmas living in North East Bharat, and many are Bharatiya citizens, although they still face discrimination in states like Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh. Chakma rights groups complain that Chakmas are the only group of refugees in Bharat who have always been kept in camps and repatriated to Bangladesh while all other refugees like Tibetans and Rohingyas have never been repatriated to their country of origin.

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