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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

“She was abducted, converted and murdered; now they want to bury her as a Muslim”: father of minor Chakma girl, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh

Lakingme Chakma was a 14-years-old student of class-VI when she was abducted from her home on January 5. After 11 months, police called in her father last Thursday to identify his daughter’s body in Cox’s Bazar hospital morgue. They, however, did not hand him over her body saying the girl was ‘married’ to one of her abductors who managed a birth certificate that says she was 18.

“My daughter was abducted, converted and later murdered and now they are not even giving us her body even,” lamented Lala Aung Chakma of Shilkhali Chakma para in Teknaf of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

As per local human rights activists, the Hindu Chakma girl was abducted by one Mohammed Attaullah. She was converted to Islam, forcefully married and then murdered by Attaullah, who is now claiming the dead body. Meanwhile, the grief-stricken father wants to perform last rites on his daughter as per Chakma beliefs.

In the above video, a journalist asks the father, “What happened to your daughter?”

“My daughter went missing from 5th January 2020 in the afternoon. I searched for her but failed. Left with no other option, I lodged a missing complaint at Cox’s Bazar Police Station. After 10 months I have now come to know that my daughter is dead and her body is at Cox’s Bazar divisional Hospital,” says the father.

Chakmas are an indigenous ethnic group mostly centred in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) region in southeastern Bangladesh. Thousands of Chakmas have fled to Bharatiya states like Tripura, Mizoram, Arunachal to escape persecution by first East Pakistan and later the Bangladeshi state.

From late 1970s onwards, the Bangladesh government started settling Muslims in the CHT region to alter the demography. The Bengali Muslim settlers and Bangladesh military are reported to have carried out a systematic campaign of persecution and land grab against the non-Muslim indigenous peoples, also known as Jumma people. The Jumma people numbered around 98.5% of CHT’s total population at the time of partition, but today are just 50%. Most Chakmas are Buddhists although there are some Hindus and practitioners of other faiths too. Incidents of targeted sexual violence against Chakma, Tripuri and other non-Muslim women are common in CHT.

Unfortunately, many Chakma refugees in Bharat also face persecution from radical Christian terror outfits.

As per news outlet thedailystar.net, Lala Aung Chakma filed a a case with Cox’s Bazar Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal on January 17 when police failed to take any action to retrieve his daughter. He is now demanding exemplary punishment for the killers who brutally murdered his daughter after abduction.

Sheikh Monirul Gias, officer-in charge of Cox’s Bazar Police Station, however said, “We didn’t hand the victim’s body to her father as she was married. We are waiting for a decision from the court.”

Shaheen Md Abdur Rahman Chawdhury, resident medical officer of the Cox’s Bazar Sadar Hospital, said they conducted the autopsy on Thursday.

“It is the responsibility of the police to handover the body to her relatives. But police is not receiving the body” he said. He did not say anything about the cause of the victim’s death.

However, sources in the locality where the girl was kept claimed that she had been tortured and poisoned to death. Teknaf police refused to comment.

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