Rights activists at a discussion yesterday demanded that the government identify and punish the abductors of Kalpana Chakma, and unveil the long-standing mystery over disappearance of the ethnic minority community leader.
They also called upon the authorities to apologise for the incident and acknowledge that they have failed to rescue her.
Hill Women’s Federation and Bangladesh Indigenous Women Network organised the discussion at WVA auditorium in Dhaka’s Dhanmondi, marking 23rd anniversary of Kalpana’s abduction.
On June 12, 1996, a group of armed miscreants abducted the minority leader from her house in Baghaichari upazila of Rangamati. Her family members, who were present there, alleged that some people identifying as members of security and law enforcement agencies were involved with the incident.
Eminent rights activist Sultana Kamal said Kalpana, beyond her identity of an ethnic minority leader, has become an icon of protest for women.
“The way the then Pakistan treated Bangladeshi people [before independence], now we -- Bengalis -- are treating a group of people [ethnic minorities] the same. Nothing can be more shameful and pathetic,” said Sultana.
The co-chairperson of Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission alleged that a segment of the ruling quarter has lost the ability to judge what is right and fair, and that is why human rights are being violated.
“Perhaps, we are progressing in terms of development… But are we becoming civilised?” Sultana questioned.
Bangladesh Adivasi Forum General Secretary Sanjeeb Drong said the state is responsible for failing to find out what happened with Kalpana in 23 years.
“If the government fails to rescue her, at least it can apologise [at the parliament] that she couldn’t be traced,” said Sanjeeb.
Nijera Kori Coordinator Khushi Kabir said, “The abduction of Kalpana has been investigated about 39 times so far, but the culprits are yet to be identified.” It is quite ridiculous as the abductors “are almost certain”, she added.
Lawmaker Lutfun Nesa Khan and Hill Women’s Federation President Monira Tripura, also spoke at the event.