A Threadbare of Economic Development

by Kh Atiar Rahman - Date: 2008-06-22 - Word Count: 1018 Share This!

The economic prosperity as well social progression depends upon the congenial atmosphere in a country where a healthy society is inevitable being the democratic right of the people's mandate. The voting right of the people is established in view of peaceful socio-economic stringency as it is the only desirable precondition of a country's symbolic and demographic disposition. On February 16, 2000 about six to seven tribal gunmen had kidnapped Torben Mikkelsen and Nils Hulgaard of Denmark, and Tim Selby, all working for CAMPSAX on a Denmark-aided road development project, from a place known as Satero Miler Matha at Gunjapara in Naniarchar Upazila at about 5:00 PM. The three Europeans were on their way back from a survey work in a pickup. Dave Weston, a British consultant, and Mohammed Mustafa, the driver of the pickup, were asked to go to a nearby Police Station with a letter written in Bengali, demanding a Tk. Nine crore ransom for the release of the hostages. Weston had informed accordingly to the Rangamati Police Station of the incident at about 8:00 PM. In the 17th of February, having been conversant with the relevant incident, the concerning police and army personnel cordon had started for the Kalapahar area, where the hostages were believed to have handicapped.

According to diplomatic and other sources, a new group of people with sophisticated arms like AK47 had taken over charge of the hostages from them. One of the hostages after being released said that the leader of the new group was a 42-year-old highly trained Chakma, had spoken good English, known among his followers as ‘Captain'. He said that the ‘Captain' was a former ‘Shantibahini Officer' highly regarded by his followers for his thorough erudition of the Chittagong Hill Tracts and guerilla warfare. During their captivity, the hostages were made to walk at nights through intensive forest and hills to new hideouts of the group and sometimes they could even see the light at hilltop army positions ‘not very far away'. The new captors were well disciplined and they had to change guards at regular intervals. Although at the beginning, some of the captors claimed themselves to be members of the United People's Democratic Front (UPDF), later they told the hostages that they had not been involved in any political activities but wanted money for the "Welfare of Chakma People". Tim Selby said, "although the hostages were in absolute consternation, he felt helpless during the whole period". But it is interesting to note that the captors had shown them being foreigners much regards and nobility of manner.

The authorities have protracted communication with the abductors through local UP chairmen and leaders working as intermediaries. The abductors, in a note, demanded withdrawal of Army Cordon as a precondition for negotiations. The authorities had frizzed army movement in the 'Red Zone' area at Kalapahar but refused to withdraw the cordon. The rescue operation started as soon as the troops became ensured about the presence of the kidnappers at Chakma and Marma villages of Nakshachhari and Daijjyapara in the remote inaccessible hill forest, six km North of Kashkhali. Army raids extended up to four villages in the red zone area and nabs some 28 relatives of the abductors. Kalparanjan Chakma and Dipanker Chakma were designated to conduct the negotiation as the coordinators on February 25. On February 27, an authority has received a letter abruptly dated February 22 from the hostages. Three negotiation experts including two from Scotland Yard had joined the authorities on the next day and made all efforts to make a negotiated end to the crisis.

The radiant officers were astonished having observed the attitude and feelings of the kidnappers at midnight. The gang numbering about seven fired back when they had made some blank shots. As the kidnappers felt that they were being encircled, the kidnappers gave up and fled after the exchange of fire for about 12 minutes and consequently, a thorough search afterwards in the area resulted in rescue of the three hostages. The captors cautioned the three foreign engineers in the evening of March 16 about their imminent release. Sources exclaimed that the group had united around the hostage and presented them home woven Chakma ropes and bags for their wives and family members. Then they had begged apologizes to the three foreigners for ‘All the troublesomeness caused to their families during those days' and bade them farewell. At about 8 that night, the hostages, led by the ‘Captain', had to walk for about six hours before reaching a place where three ‘ordinary looking' men in white shirt were waiting. The three men introduced themselves as members of Bangladesh Red Crescent Society. Then the ‘Captain' shook hands with the hostages and disappeared into the dense forest. At about 5: 00 PM, in the next morning, the three foreigners had seen a man crossing a paddy field with a torch in his hand. As soon as that man came nearer, the Red Crescent men and the foreigners were led into a ‘cabin' and asked to wait. After closing the door of the ‘cabin' from outside, the four men disappeared. About half an hour later, at about 6:00 AM, Army troops entered the cabin with bags of orange, grapes and cans of coke and announced, " You have all been rescued by the Army".

The kidnappers had earlier demanded a ransom of Tk. nine crore, later reportedly reduced it to Tk. one crore and finally to TK. 40 lakh. However, it could not be corroborated. The concerning officials had denied any dealing with the abductors. The three Europeans, after a three-day medical check-up at the Combined Military Hospital in Dhaka, had gone to their respective countries on 19 March 2001. The hostage drama finally concluded but it has left many questions vacillating. There is no denying the fact that the flagitious intricacies occurred with the honorable foreigners in Chittagong Hill Tracts is nothing but a threat and threadbare against the economic development of our country. In future, we should learn one thing that peace and tranquility are pre-condition for economic prosperity and political stability in a country.



Related Tags: power, peaceful, symbol, king, wrong, governance, legislature, judiciary, murky, des lais, indication

Kh Atiar Rahman is a distinguished author as well as a poet. He was born in the former Kushtia district.

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