Friday, 9 June, 2023

KNF a threat to peace in CHT

Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF), a separatist group in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) which is also known as Bom Party or Bawm Party, is gradually emerging as a dangerous threat in the hills, endangering the life of the hilly people.

Members of the Kuki-Chin National Army (KNA), the armed wing of the KNF, are also challenging the security forces in the CHT after being armed with heavy weapons.

Under such a situation, the locals have urged the security forces to get tough on the terrorists to ensure peace, stability and security in the hilly areas.

They said there is an awful situation in the hills, especially in KNF-dominated Bandarban district, following their armed activities. Sometimes the KNF terrorists open fire indiscriminately to spread panic among the locals.

Recently, a sudden armed attack was launched on the army patrols working tirelessly to maintain the law and order and harmony in the hills, they said.

Besides, the KNF terrorists have killed, injured and kidnapped people involved in government development activities. They also threaten and torture local innocent people frequently.

Due to the violence of KNF, many hill residents have left their neighbourhoods and taken shelter in the upazila headquarters to save their lives.

On April 7 last, eight people were killed during a gunfight between two armed groups in Rowangchhari upazila of Bandarban, said police. Police officials suspected that the KNF and United People’s Democratic Front (Democratic) were engaged in the gun battle.

On April 25, a gunfight was reported between two armed groups in Bandarban's Ruma upazila. Police and locals said clashes broke out between the UPDF (Democratic) and the KNF in the remote area of Mualpi neighbourhood.

The common hilly people are scared about the activities of KNA. They do not even dare to open their mouth for fear.

Sources said at least 400 innocent hill people have left their homes and are staying in shelters in the upazila headquarters due to the KNF attacks.

Uhla Mong Marmar, chairman of Paindu Union Parishad in Ruma, told the Daily Sun, “Bandarban was among the most peaceful and well-off hill districts. Earlier we were living a very peaceful life in our area. Since last year we’ve been suffering because of Kuki-Chin.”

“The situation in Bandarban is still not safe. Due to this, innocent residents from different neighbourhoods are taking shelter in Sadar to save their lives.”

Locals said Bandarban was relatively calm among the three hill districts. Due to extensive development of roads and infrastructure in these cloud-enveloped hilly areas, tourism spots were emerging even in remote areas like Thanchi, Ruma and Rowangchhari.

But separatist armed group KNF has created a chaotic-threatening situation in the Bandarban hilly areas.

The KNF has now become a major threat to peace and order in the hills, providing full support to new militant outfit Jama’atul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya, including arms training.

Currently, they are also creating obstacles to development activities being carried out by the government in the hills to show dominance or power-ability.

They are not sparing the residents of their community or other small ethnic groups as well if they do not follow their words.

According to reliable sources, KNF chief Nathan Bom and top-level leaders have repeatedly shifted their positions, taking advantage of the impassable tri-border (Bangladesh, India and Myanmar) in the mountainous region.

At the same time, armed groups of KNF try to use the border of Mizoram and Myanmar as a temporary base. Detectives have information that Nathan Bom stays in Mizoram most of the time.

Information is also available that some regional groups of the neighbouring countries are supporting the KNF in various ways.

The KNF terrorists are taking advantage of the tri-border to take them to a desperate position. They also publicise their various terrorist activities and heavy weapons drills on the social media.

Kazi Mujibur Rahman, central president of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Citizens’ Council, said, “They (KNA) are active in the hilly areas. Due to their rampage, travel has been stopped in Ruma, Rowangchhari and Thanchi upazilas. The movement of tourists is stopped. Businesses collapsed. There’s panic everywhere.”

“Common hill people in remote or inaccessible areas are also in great fear. They’re threatened with disappearance, shooting, brushfire or burning,” he added.

He said due to insecurity, the residents of all the neighbourhoods are moving to the upazila headquarters. The army is taking care of these residents, including providing them with food and medical treatment.

Mujibur, who is a resident of Bandarban, said the KNF terrorists are able to carry out their activities easily by using the tri-border. Apart from JSS and UPDF, 4-5 other organisations of the hilly region are also engaged in various activities to disturb the hill from time to time.

“Consequently, given the geographical location and present situation of the hilly areas, there’s no alternative to the army deployment. Setting up of cantonments or more army camps in hilly areas is also the need of the time. Areas from where army camps were once withdrawn also need to be reopened quickly. It’s not possible to ensure peace, stability and security in the hilly areas with police alone,” he added.

The Thanchi road in Bandarban, which is being built by the government for the development of the backward communities in the hilly areas, is being operated under the supervision of army.

To disrupt the development spree of the government, the KNA terrorists abducted 12 workers engaged in development work on March 11.

Of them, a worker suffered bullet injuries and four workers are still being held hostage by the KNA.

Although they released the remaining seven workers after taking ransom, they threatened them not to work for the road construction project.

On March 12, the KNA terrorists killed one member of the patrolling army (Master Warrant Officer Nazim Uddin) and injured two others in Rowangchhari.

Khandaker Al Moin, director (Legal and Media) of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), said they came to know about the separatist armed organisation, KNF, while investigating the activities of the new militant organisation (Jama’atul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya).

“Since last October, operations have been conducted against the militants and separatist terrorists of Hindal Sharqiya in the hills. Currently, KNF terrorists are carrying out various activities against the development activities in the hills. In the meantime, they have also killed, injured and kidnapped those involved in the development of the hilly areas,” he said.

 “We’re keeping strong vigil on these issues. Stern action will be taken against those who act against the country or against the law,” Moin added.

The KNF is made up of people from six small ethnic groups namely Bom, Mro, Lusai, Khumi, Khyang and Pangkhua.

They consider themselves the original inhabitants of the CHT. At the same time, they consider the Chakma, Marma and Tripura communities to be belonging to the Myanmarese and Indian ethnic groups and outsiders.

This is why the KNF members are hostile towards regional groups like Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) and UPDF.