Dhaka,  Wednesday
29 May 2024

KUKI-CHIN’S VIOLENCE IN BANDARBAN

No concessions in combating terrorist organisations

Imran Ali

Published: 09:01, 5 April 2024

No concessions in combating terrorist organisations

Photo : Collected

Concerns and anxiety have escalated following incidents of bank robberies by the terrorist organisation Kuki-Chin (Kuki-Chin National Front) in Ruma and Thanchi areas of Bandarban. The entire area has turned into a terror zone, leading to the closure of banks. Local residents are deeply shocked by these acts of violence perpetrated by armed Kuki-Chin terrorists, especially after a period of relative calm lasting almost one and a half years. 

Locals believe that the terrorists are showcasing their strength under the guise of peace talks. In the aftermath of the incident, the entire Bandarban area is nearly under siege due to ongoing operations. Security analysts assert that no concessions should be given in suppressing such a terrorist organisation. Efforts should be focused on suppressing them without further delay, as attempts to calm the situation through peace talks have only served to strengthen them locally.

Meanwhile, a joint operation is underway to suppress the terrorists, overseen by DIG of Chattogram Range, Nur Alam Mina. Additionally, Region Commander of Khagrachhari, Brigadier Sharif Mohammad Aman Hasan, has warned that the army will use maximum force to suppress any misdeeds by any group or faction in the hills.

According to sources, on Tuesday night around 9 pm, more than a hundred armed- terrorists of Kuki-Chin simultaneously attacked the Sonali Bank branch in Ruma Upazila headquarters, a nearby mosque, the Upazila Parishad office, and the Ansar members guarding the residence of the Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO). During this time, at least 20 people, including bank officials and security personnel, were assaulted. The branch manager, Nezam Uddin, was also abducted. 

Just before the bank attack, the armed men attacked the Ansar members guarding the UNO's residence, looted their weapons and ammunition. Additionally, 10 more weapons were looted from the police personnel guarding the bank. After 16 hours, armed individuals also attacked two banks in Thanchi Upazila headquarters. On Wednesday around 12:30 pm, a group of armed men arrived in three vehicles and attacked the branches of Sonali Bank and Krishi Bank located side by side. Approximately 14-15 lakh taka was looted from Sonali Bank, and 2.5 lakh taka was looted from Krishi Bank.
After robbing the banks, the armed group indiscriminately fired in Thanchi Bazar, creating panic. The most significant incident was that while the police chief was stationed in Ruma, this incident occurred in Thanchi at the same time.

The KNF began its activities in mid-2022. Law enforcement agencies had earlier informed the media that members of the new militant organisation Jamatul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya from the plains had received armed training at KNF hideouts in the hills. Last year, law enforcement agencies conducted operations at those hideouts and arrested several members of Jamatul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya and the KNF. During those operations, three army members were also killed. To reintegrate KNF members into normal life, a 'Peace Establishment' committee led by Khaishahla Marma, the chairman of the district council, was formed in May last year. The second round of meetings between the committee and the group was held on March 5 in Bethelpara.

Security analyst Major General (Retd) Abdur Rashid told The Daily Messenger, “We have been observing the activities of militant terrorists cantered in the hills. They have even attacked our army during operations. When they cannot sustain the operations, they also leave the area. Meanwhile, they were given the opportunity to return to normal life. The process began through the formation of the Peace Establishment Committee.”

He continued, “Such incidents only prove that they are challenging our law enforcement agencies.”

In response to a question, he said, “Peace talks will no longer work to eliminate or suppress the armed group. If they cannot be completely eliminated, the situation will become more terrifying. The government must take all necessary measures to suppress the misdeeds of this group before it is too late.”

Another security analyst, Air Cdre (Retd) Ishfaq Ilahi Choudhury, told The Daily Messenger, “Efforts were made to reintegrate the members of this organisation into normal life. But they defied it and carried out incidents like bank robberies. This proves that they have been accumulating strength internally.”

He added, “I don't see any alternative other than the use of force. The ongoing operation must continue until they are brought under the purview of the law, no matter how long it takes.”

Responding to a question, he said, “After the first operation, there was consideration given to allowing them the opportunity to return to normal life. But now they have not upheld that. There is no other way but the use of force. And for the sake of the country's security and sovereignty, there is no alternative other than suppression.”

It is known that since the incident on Tuesday, a tense situation prevails throughout the area. All banking activities have been suspended. Police, RAB, and all specialised units, in coordination with the army, have launched a joint operation. Various technologies are being used to monitor the presence of terrorists in this remote hilly area.

Regarding the operation, DIG of Chattogram Range Nur Alam Mina told the Daily Messenger, “I don't want to label them as Kuki-Chin at first. I want to refer to them as terrorists. They are involved in the bank robbery incident. We are working to arrest them. Their identities will be confirmed after their arrest.”

On the other hand, Region Commander of Khagrachhari Brigadier Sharif Mohammad Aman Hasan said, “Under Operation Uttoron, the army is working in coordination with all agencies in the hills. It will work to eliminate terrorists to establish lasting peace and maintain harmony between the hill people and Bengalis.”

Messenger/Fameema

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