Vol. 5 Num 175 Sat. November 20, 2004  
Front Page

Joint Operation in Kutupalong
Three bodies of Rohingyas recovered, 22 more held
BDR nabs 'most wanted criminal' Lalu

A day after Thursday's gunfight with Rohingya refugees that left over 100 injured, law enforcers in a joint operation yesterday arrested 11 more at Kutupalong Camp in Ukhiya upazila, Cox's Bazar, and recovered three dead bodies of refugees from the surrounding hills.

Villagers of Tuturbil area in the upazila nabbed 11 more alleged Rohingya criminals from among a large number of refugees and criminals who were fleeing the camp panicked by the operation. The villagers handed over the 11 held to police in the evening.

Police found the bullet-riddled bodies of Saleh Ahmed, 50, Saber Ahmed, 24, and Ehsanullah, 16, in a hilly forest near the camp in the early hours yesterday. All of them were criminals and involved in the Thursday's skirmish with law enforcers, police sources said.

Shafiqur Rahman, sub-inspector of Ukhiya Police Station, told The Daily Star yesterday over telephone the three were registered Rohingya refugees at Kutupalong Camp. They were buried by the local Pourasabha authorities yesterday afternoon after autopsy.

Sources said the local authorities are concerned over the firearms in the hands of refugees and police are probing how the arms got into the camp.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) yesterday nabbed five Rohingya refugees including 'most wanted criminal' Abdul Hakim alias Lalu Mia, locally known as Lalu Chairman, in Inani area of Cox's Bazar. The border guards later handed them over to Ukhiya police.

Lalu has several criminal cases against him. He was leading an agitation against repatriation of Rohingya refugees.

The other arrestees are Abdul Hamid, Manu Mia, Abdus Sabur and Abdul Hye. Police said all the five are registered refugees of Kutupalong Camp.

BDR sources said, tipped off, they caught them in the evening as they were going to Cox's Bazar in a jeep.

Police, BDR and ansars launched a joint operation Thursday night that continued yesterday. They arrested 11 Rohinga refugees on charge of involvement in Thursday's gunfight. No arms were however recovered in the drive.

Earlier on Thursday, nine refugees were arrested.

Local police, BDR and intelligence sources said over telephone an uneasy calm was prevailing in the area following the clash.

A source, who visited the area, said Thursday's clash and yesterday's joint operation caused panic among refugees in the camp, and criminals among them and illegal outsiders fled to nearby hilly forests.

BDR sources said three BDR platoons condoned off the area while police, ansar and Range Reserve Force (RRF) of police conducted the operation. BDR personnel remained deployed in the area till filing of this report at 8:00pm yesterday.

High officials of police and Rohingya Refugee Repatriation Commission (RRRC) of Cox's Bazar yesterday visited the camp.

RRRC sources pointed out that the refugees had been violating rules of the camp for the last three months. They formulated rules themselves to run the camp and took virtual control of it.

The refugees refused to take passes issued by the camp-in-charge to go outside the camp and selected a fellow refugee as the camp-in-charge. They also gave shelter to illegal outsiders and criminals.

Moreover, the refugees brought in arms through the hilly border areas, the sources said.

A section of refugees in collaboration with the criminal elements used to bring out processions and hold meetings at the camp as part of an agitation against their repatriation to Myanmar.

Repatriation of the remaining Rohingya refugees has remained stalled for the last six months.

The authorities say the refugees are not willing to go back home right now and some officials involved in the process believe no further repatriation will take place.

Since 1992, 2,36,490 Rohingya refugees, who are Muslims, were repatriated. They had fled to Bangladesh in 1991 to escape repression by the Myanmar military junta.

At present, 19,841 'officially recognised' Rohingya refugees of 2,976 families are staying in two camps-- Nayapara camp in Teknaf upazila and Kutupalong camp of Ukhiya.

But there are about two lakh 'unofficially estimated' refugees in Cox's Bazar district.

The arrestees in yesterday's joint operation are Abu Sayed, Md Alam, Ali Ahmad, Badshah Mia, Ali Ahmed, Noor Ayesha, Mushtak Begum, Halima Khatun, Md Yasin, Nurul Alam and Mir Ahmed.

The 11 Rohingya criminals caught by villagers are Nurul Haque, Idris, Abu Shama, Abu Taher, Hashu Mia, Noor Mohammad, Mohammad Selim, Noor Hossain, Mohammad Tayeb, Ayub Ali and Mia Ahmad.