No trace of Kalpana Chakma in 20 years

Mohiuddin Alamgir and Shantimoy Chakma
Kalpana Chakma

Kalpana Chakma

The government is yet to disclose the mystery of the abduction of Kalpana Chakma and trace the Hill Women’s Federation leader even after 20 years of her abduction.
Kalpana Chakma still remains missing as 35 investigation officers have failed to ascertain whether she is alive in two decades of her disappearance although the court has on two occasions ordered reinvestigation into the case.
The deadline for the submission of the report of the ongoing third investigation into Kalpana’s enforced disappearance had so far been extended on 30 occasions since January 16, 2013, when the court asked Rangamati superintendent of police for the investigation.
The Rangamati Chief Judicial Magistrate’s Court on May 8 posted for July 12 the hearing in a prosecution petition seeking the court to ask police to report the progress made in the investigation into the case.
On June 12, 1996, Kalpana, the then organising secretary of Hill Women’s Federation, was abducted by Lieutenant Ferdous from her house at New Lalyaghona of Baghaichari in Rangamati several hours before the seventh national elections, said Kalpana’s elder brother Kalindi Kumar Chakma, also a witness to the abduction.
Kalpana was then campaigning for independent candidate Bijoy Ketan Chakma, the then senior presidium member of Pahari Gana Parishad, who was supported by all hill peoples’ organisations active at that time.
Jewel Dewan of Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust, who is pleading for the plaintiff, said that Rangamati superintendent of police missed the deadline for submitting the report for 30 times in the past three years and a half.
He said that he filed the petition seeking progress report of the investigation in May 2015, but it was yet to be heard although the court time and against asked the police to submit the investigation report at the earliest.
The latest progress report, submitted by the then Rangamati superintendent of police Amena Begum on July 20, 2014, said that it was not possible to complete the investigation until Kalpana Chakma was rescued or a final decision on her status was made, as she was the main witness to the abduction.
Kalindi Kumar Chakma filed the case with Baghaichhari police a few hours after the abduction.
After 14 years of investigation, Baghaichari police submitted a final report to the court on May 21, 2010 and Rangamati chief judicial magistrate on September 2, 2010 ordered the Criminal Investigation Department for a further investigation sought by Kalindi as the investigation ‘failed’ to identify the abductors.
The same court on January 16, 2013 ordered the third investigation into the case as the plaintiff prayed for on the ground that the CID investigation report also ‘failed’ to identify the kidnappers and that too without interrogating the accused.
The incumbent superintendent of police in Rangamati, Sayeed Tarikul Hassan, said that they were following the court directives. ‘It is a very old case and it will take time to submit the report,’ said Tarikul Hassan.
Kalindi said that his family wanted arrest and punishment of the perpetrators.
Human rights activists slated the government and termed the failure to find out Kalpana Chakma in long time a ‘sheer negligence on the part of the law enforcers’ and said that it caused doubt about capability of law enforcing agencies to crack the real incident and book culprits.
National Human Rights Commission chairman Mizanur Rahman said that until and unless the state and the government would give acceptable information about Kalpana Chakma, ‘the finger of suspicion for the crime would remain pointed at the state.’
CHT commission member Iftekharuzzaman said, ‘The moot question is whether it is the lack of skills and capacity of law enforcement agencies or that of commitment and professionalism which is responsible for the failure to book the perpetrators for so long.’
Justice delayed is justice denied and the case of abduction of Kalpana Chakma is an ominous example of the culture of impunity in the country, said Rangamati lawmaker Ushatan Talukder, also Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity vice-president.
Different organisations of hill people, including the Hill Women’s Federation, have taken elaborate programmes to mark the 20th anniversary of the disappearance of Kalpana Chakma.

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