The week in wildlife – in pictures

An administration failure that flared into Langadu violence

FRIDAY’S attacks, alleged to have been unleashed by the Bengali settlers, on about 300 houses of national minorities in about half a dozen villages at Langadu in Rangamati, in which a 70-year-old woman was burnt to death, that too, amidst heavy deployment of law enforcement personnel is gravely concerning. The district administration failed to fathom that the situation would turn so devastating, as New Age quoted the Rangamati deputy commissioner as saying in a report on Saturday, as several thousand Bengalis took part in the attack and the mob could not be controlled despite the deployment of law enforcers. The situation brewed up as a local leader of the Juba League, the youth wing of the ruling Awami League, was found dead and the blame for the death came to be heaped on national minorities, which remains a mere allegation without investigations. Juba League people and others, who gathered in protest at the death, vandalised a Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti office and shops owned by national minority people at Langadu. They later set a few hundred houses on fire. National minority people, who fled into deep forest in fear of further attacks, are now living in a fearful situation.

The district administration had ordered a ban on unlawful assembly to contain the situation, but it, unfortunately, could not control the mob earlier. The deputy commissioner, who sought to brush aside the allegations that the attacks had taken place in the presence of law enforcers, however, said that they had the preparation to head off any untoward incidents over the death, which speaks of fears of a kind that something bad could happen, but no hill people had told anything to the district administration. If the district administration had the preparation to stave off any untoward incident centring on the protest at the death, why could it not act according to the preparation it had made? Besides, leaders of national minorities are reported to have contacted the local Awami League leaders and the law enforcers, expressing their fears that attacks might be forthcoming. Whatever happened there, the blame squarely lies on the administration as this is not the first such violence in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and even Chittagong. Attacks on religious minorities took place at Ramu in Cox’s Bazar in September 2012 and at Fatikchari in Chittagong in June 2014. The administration should have been cautious about such issues there, especially at Langadu, where majority of the areas are populated by the Bengalis.

Government leaders must now, instead of buying time and trading blame, immediately ensure the protection of national minorities, get them back into their households from the forest, where most of them are living now, and provide them with support, financial and otherwise, so that they could start living a normal life. The death of the Juba League leader must also be properly investigated. The government must not only take steps, legal and administrative, after impartial investigations against the local administration and the attackers but it also must deterrently punish the offenders, as the case at hand is nothing but consequent on earlier incidents, which are reported to have been handled with an indifference.

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