Romel Chakma’s death: UPDF blocks roads in Rangamati
11:29 AM, April 23, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 07:58 PM, April 23, 2017

Romel Chakma’s death: UPDF blocks roads in Rangamati

ASK, MJF concerned over Romel’s death

United People's Democratic Front (UPDF) today enforced a roadblock in protest against the death of an indigenous youth, Romel Chakma.

No vehicles except a few three-wheelers were seen plying the roads since the roadblock began at 7:00am, our Rangamati correspondent reports today.

READ more: Confusion, anger over death in hills

Picketers blocked roads felling tree logs at several points in order to obstruct vehicular movement.

The death of Romel, 20, who was an HSC examinee of Naniarchar College in Rangamati, sparked protests in the hill tracts as well as in Dhaka.

He was also general secretary of Pahari Chhatra Parishad's (PCP) Rangamati unit.

Additional policemen were deployed in the district to avert any untoward incident during the roadblock, said Md Rashid, officer-in-charge (OC) of Rangamati Kowtoali Police Station.

As an HSC examination is going on there, parents were seen taking their children to examination centres in the town in the morning, the correspondent said.

Their roadblock programme ended peacefully, Kunentu Chakma, president of Rangamati unit Parbattya Chattagram Pahari Chatro Parishad (PCP) told the correspondent.

Protesters will stage a sit-in before the office of deputy commissioner tomorrow (April 25), said a press release issued by Greater Chittagong Hill Tracts Hill Student's Council.

Student bodies of different leftist parties at Dhaka University continued their demonstration that started yesterday.

Bangladesh Chhatra Union yesterday held a rally in front of the Jatiya Press Club demanding justice for Romel.

ASK, MJF concerned over Romel’s death 

Meanwhile, rights bodies Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) and Manusher Jonno Foundation today expressed deep concerned over the death of Romel.

In a release issued this afternoon, ASK also demanded a judicial investigation into the death. 

The release said the allegation raised by Romel’s family is very serious which has already created tension and anxiety among people. 

“Such allegations against Army personnel is unexpected and a reflection of unprofessional attitude,” reads the ASK release. 

Meanwhile, Manusher Jonno Foundation strongly protested “unlawful arrest and killing of Romel through medieval torture.” 

In the release, MJF executive director Shaheen Anam alleged that repression against “indigenous” people is taking place continuously. 

“Such criminal activities are taking place as none was made accountable and was given punishment in the incidents took place in the past. Therefore a culture of impunity has been created in those areas.” 

She also demanded the arrest and exemplary punishment of those involved in Romel murder.

The organisation also called upon the National Human Rights Commission to interfere the issue.

It remains unclear how the visually impaired youth died after army picked him up on the morning of April 5 from Naniarchar Bazar.

The circumstances of his funeral also remain shrouded in mystery, as different organisations, including PCP and different leftist student bodies, are continuing demonstration in the capital and Rangamati.

Romel was picked up by the army in connection with two cases filed over torching a truck and looting two buses, Lt Col Mohammad Rashidul Hasan, director of ISPR, told The Daily Star over the phone yesterday.

They handed Romel over to the Naniarchar police the same day, said the Inter Service Public Relations Directorate (ISPR) official, adding that the young man died on April 19 at Chittagong Medical College Hospital where he was being treated in police custody.

He added the allegation of torture on him by the army was false.

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