The burnt house of an indigenous family at Mohajonpara in Khagrachhari lies deserted as the victims are yet to return there after one month of the February 23 bloody clashes between indigenous people and Bangali settlers in the hill town and adjacent areas. Photo: STAR
Victims of February 23 arson attacks in Khagrachhari town and adjacent areas are still passing days in makeshift shelters amid fear of fresh attack by opponents while the government assistance is too inadequate to reconstruct their damaged houses.
Incidents of attacks, counter attacks and arson left one person killed and around 50 others injured at Khagrachhari Municipality and nearby areas while a good number of people lost their houses during the violence between indigenous people and Bangalee settlers.
Administration sources said they have already given 500 kg of rice, four bundles of corrugated iron (CI) sheets, Tk 10 thousand in cash, sarees and lungis to each of the affected families while Red Crescent is also providing necessaries to the victims.
However, the assistance in cash is too inadequate to reconstruct the houses damaged by the arson.
"We had built a house spending Tk 20 lakh but settlers burnt it on February 23. I got Tk 10 thousand in cash and five bundles of CI sheets. Is it enough to reconstruct my house? said indigenous Pratima Roaza.
Jewel Chakma, another arson affected at Mohazonpara in Khagrachhari town, said, "Settlers burnt to ashes my business establishments that contained things worth at least Tk 20 lakh. But I am yet to get expected compensation."
"Settlers looted my business centre but the assistance is very little. Besides, it is risky to establish business centres inside a settler dominated area, said Priyator Chakma.
We failed to reconstruct houses as we are poor and spending the money of government aid for buying necessaries. Besides, settlers from nearby Shalbagan areas still threaten us to drive out from here," said Craiya Marma of Satbaiyapara.
Mohammad Mozammel Hossen, an arson-affected settler from Shantiniketon area, said, "We lost everything. The government provided a few bundles of corrugated iron sheets and cash Tk 10 thousand for reconstruction of the house but we spent that money for buying our necessaries."
"The government allotment is not enough as at least Tk 5 lakh properties including house were burnt to ashes," said Mohammad Mizanur Rahman of the same area.
"We stay at makeshift houses during daytime to save our land but we still fear attack from indigenous people," said Rahima Begum who lost her house during the arson.
Acting Superintendent of Police Mohammad Amir Jafar said, "We have already set up four more temporary police camps to ensure security of both Bangalee and ethnic people. People can inform us any time if they feel insecure. We will take necessary measures to maintain peace in the hilly areas."
Admitting that the aid was not enough compared to the damages, Deputy Commissioner Mohammad Abdullah said, "The government has decided to give more compensation to the affected people. Sadar Upazila Nirbahi Officer Mohammad Rahed Hossen is working to prepare a list according to the extent of damage.