Thursday, June 27, 2019 | ePaper

Rangamati killings: Nab the killers first then ensure punishment

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AT least seven people, including two polling officials and four Ansar personnel, were shot dead in Rangamati's Baghaichhari upazila in a violent turn of events in the second phase of upazila polls on Monday evening. Two jeeps came under a hail of gunfire in Noymile area, leaving four dead on the spot.
The attackers are unknown. The security personnel, including two women, and the polling officials were returning to the upazila town with election results and polling materials. They had just discharged their election duties at Konglak Government Primary School centres in Sajek Union. Fourteen people were injured in the attack. Of them, three died after being taken to Baghaichhari Upazila Health Complex. Members of the army remain deployed in the three hilly districts, including Rangamati, round the clock.
Four local political parties based in the region's ethnic communities appear to be engaged in violent conflict with one another. The four organisations are Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS), Jana Samhati Samiti (Reformist-MN Larma), United People's Democratic Front (UPDF) and UPDF (Ganatantrik). For the people's of the three hill districts, desired peace seems a far-off dream despite the signing of the CHT Peace Accord more than 20 years ago.
Security agencies and rights groups said over 500 people were killed in the last 20 years in bloody conflicts, along with numerous abductions and assaults. The four groups are extorting from wood trade, kitchen markets, cattle markets, transport and many others, each in their own turf, all the while fighting each other to gain more ground, all the while claiming to represent minority rights. So it would not be unsurprising to figure out that one of these was disgruntled enough with the election to take part in this atrocity.
The EC should have striven hard to ensure that no gross irregularities took place in this violence prone area where armed groups do not hesitate to become violent anytime. So at least in this very sensitive area the EC could have taken extra precautions to ensure that no violence could take place. But it appears that it has failed miserably to ensure the atmosphere--and the deaths of the security personnel appear to be the direct result of the mismanagement.

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