Sunday, June 8, 2014

Investigation lacks conviction

18 Years Into Kalpana Abduction
Investigation lacks conviction
Staff Correspondent

Investigation lacks conviction

The reinvestigation report on the abduction of indigenous community leader Kalpana Chakma 18 years ago is likely to be submitted at a Rangamati court tomorrow.

Kalpana, the then organising secretary of the Hill Women's Federation, was allegedly kidnapped by some military personnel and local law enforcers from her house in New Lalyaghona of Baghaichhari, Rangamati on June 12, 1996.

However, two final reports, one submitted by Rangamati police in 2010 and another by Criminal Investigation Department in 2012, failed to establish any connection to the prime accused of the case -- Lieutenant Ferdous Kaiser Khan of Kojoichhari army camp and Village Defence Party (VDP) men Nurul Haq and Saleh Ahmed.

The reports also could not provide any information on the whereabouts of Kalpana or confirm if she was dead or alive.

Citing these reasons, the additional chief judicial magistrate               of Rangamati rejected the CID's report.

Meanwhile, a court in Rangamati ordered the district's Superintendent of Police Amena Begum on January 16, 2013 to reinvestigate the case, asking her to interrogate Ferdous, Nurul and Saleh.

However, till date Amena has failed to submit her report on four submission dates fixed by the court.

According to Kalpana's family and indigenous rights activists, her opposition to the military presence in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and support for the movement demanding CHT's autonomy, had made her a target of the military.

The abduction took place a year before the signing of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord, an agreement signed between the then AL government and the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti (PCJSS) in 1997. The deal ended a decades-long conflict between the Shanti Bahini, an insurgent                  group fighting for the rights of                 ethnic minorities, and government forces.

Kalpana was then campaigning for Bijay Ketan Chakma, senior presidium member of the Pahari Gana Parishad and an independent candidate at the 1996 general election, which commenced only hours after her abduction.

Under pressure from international and national rights activists, a judicial inquiry committee was formed in September 1996. It interviewed 94 people, including the prime accused Lt Ferdous and members of the army, the police and the village defence party.

However, that report was never made public.

The military has categorically denied any link with Kalpana's disappearance. In fact, a certain quarter in the army had given out reports that Lt Ferdous and Kalpana had eloped, but then it provided no evidence of it.

However, the army then announced a Tk 50,000 reward for anyone who could come up with information about Kalpana.

In a statement in July 1996, the army said Kalpana had fled the country, using her passport.
To substantiate that claim, a rights group named Bangladesh Manabadhikar Commission arranged a press conference within a month, saying Kalpana had been seen in Tripura, India, and that she had faked her own abduction.

However, the Agartala-based Humanity Protection Forum found the group's claims baseless and false upon investigation.

Indigenous rights activists  argued that those allegations were meant to mislead people and distract attention from the real perpetrators.

Rights organisations, including Amnesty International, Action Aid, Blast, Ain O Salish Kendra and Manusher Jonno Foundation,                have been campaigning for a fair investigation into the case since long.
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