Amid cold with no food, shelter
At least eight families of the Mro community, whose houses were allegedly set ablaze and vandalised by people of a rubber plantation in a village in Bandarban's Lama upazila, are now living under the open sky, in the chilling winter cold.
The victims have been living without any food and spare clothes. They are spending their nights by lighting fires with straw and tree stems, a desperate effort to keep themselves warm.
"The rubber company's staff attacked us and burnt my new house. Now we have nothing to eat and wear. My wife had saved Tk 4,000 by doing daily labour, all to buy yarn for weaving waist looms. They looted that money too," one victim said, seeking anonymity.
"I earn Tk 200 a day. I can barely feed my children with it. For years, I'd been saving money by keeping some aside every day and finally built a small house of my own recently. That house has been burnt down by the perpetrators belonging to the plantation people."
"I barely escaped the arson attack. If I were a few minutes late, I would've been burnt to ashes," another victim of the attack, widowed Chamrun Mro, told The Daily Star with tears rolling down her cheeks.
"Last year, they burnt down my jhum land. I have no idea how I'll survive with my two children," she said.
Talking to the newspaper, Rengain Karbari, the village leader, said, "Following the attack and looting, residents of the neighbourhood are in a state of panic. They lost their shelter, belongings and the little amount of money they had. Our community does not even have the financial capability to help them."
Yesterday afternoon, Sub-insepector Mohammad Shamim and three other officers of Kyaju Para police camp visited the scene of the incident in Rengyan Para.
Attackers torched and vandalised at least a dozen homes early Monday. They also looted mobile phones, household utensils, poultries, cattle and clothes.
The victims alleged that people of the rubber plantation attacked them to drive them away from the area, but the plantation denied this, saying that the indigenous people were building houses on company land.
On April 26 last year, employees of Lama Rubber Industries Limited allegedly torched crops on over 300 acres of land belonging to the indigenous community of three villages.