Protest, political terror and personal life
by Bina D’Costa
A CANDLE is burning softly. Instead of lighting up the room, it changes the atmosphere. There is an eerie feeling everywhere. The room looks almost like a shrine, with Kalpana’s photographs, some prayer scrolls and some of her belongings next to the bamboo partition. Kalpana is nowhere. She is not dead, she is not alive, she has simply disappeared.
The room is in New Lallyaghona village in the Rangamati district of the Chittagong Hill Tracts. June 12, 1996—it was the day of the national election in Bangladesh, an occasion marking/celebrating democracy. Yet, the CHT was under occupation. In some ways, it still is. Democracy is not the rule of the game here. People pay terrible price here for speaking up, for resisting tyranny, and for simply struggling for their right to exist.
Kalpana Chakma, the organising secretary of the CHT Hill Women’s Federation, was abducted from her home. We are familiar with some scattered recollections forming a patchwork of Kalpana’s last moments. Let us remember that Kalpana, along with her two brothers, Khudiram and Kalicharan, were forcibly taken from their home, from in front of their terrified mother, Badhuni Chakma. They were blindfolded and their hands were tied. Ain O Salish Kendra and Amnesty International documented how the brothers were shot at but how they managed to escape. Kalpana’s screams, Dah Dah Mare Baja (brother, brother save me…), still haunt Kalicharan. The leader of the plainclothes security personnel was identified as Lieutenant Ferdous, commander of the Kojoichari army camp, last we have heard of him, he was promoted as major and posted at the Karengatoli army camp, which is close to New Lallyaghona. Where is he now? Where are the other perpetrators?
Let us take a step back and look at this from a comparative perspective. The term ‘dirty war’ is used to articulate state-sponsored terror campaigns and repression in order to suppress suspected civilian resistance (Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, 1987). The military junta itself described the repression as dirty war in Argentina between 1976 and 1983 when many activists had ‘disappeared’ and children forcibly removed from their parents. Various regimes in different parts of the globe have routinely used forced disappearances, torture, executions as techniques of dirty war. These violent techniques were employed to maintain fear and state control over communities that are considered threats.
State violence against political activists also has a gender dimension. Through arrest and forced disappearance; abuse; forced marriages; sexual violence and rape as punishment for their own political activities women experience various forms of torture. In her description of torture by the military regimes in Latin America, Ximena Bunster (1993) suggests that one of the most terrorising kinds of arrest takes place when the woman is at home with her family. She writes, ‘the violent military operation, envisioned only for the most dangerous criminals in countries with stable democracies, is carried out by … a large group of soldiers who come in two or three vehicles and surround the house…They carry… weapons. If any resistance is offered, there is an official housebreaking and search of the home, accompanied by the destruction of furniture, the ripping of mattresses, and the armed intimidation of all the people who are in the house at the moment. This inhuman and cowardly action takes place at night- all reports place such action between midnight and 3.00am.’ Kalpana was abducted around 1:30am.
Women have also been tortured for political activities of the male members of their families and punished to communicate messages of fear to their communities. Through culturally defined messages of humiliation, women political activists have been characterised as ‘crazy’, ‘whores’, ‘immoral’ and ‘devious’. They are condemned for stepping outside their homes unlike the ‘good mothers’ and demanding their rights. The Bangladeshi state attempted to manipulate public opinion through the portrayal of a ‘deceitful’ Kalpana. There were claims that she staged her own abduction; she was having a relationship with Ferdous and left with him voluntarily; or that she was happily settled in India.
Another common tactic of dirty war is to break political activists (both women and men) by threatening them with abuse of their children and other family members. Forced marriages of young girls from the CHT who belong to the families of activists have been widely documented by human rights organisations. Ordinary men and women are repeatedly harassed and beaten in front of their children in various check points, in public places and in the familiar /private spaces such as their homes, tearing down the norms of social, familial structures. All that exists after these kinds of manipulations is a thick fog of humiliation and fear.
In the case of Latin America, human rights groups began to form resistance around the issue of political disappearances. During the Seventies and Eighties, many people who disappeared in the region were representatives of political parties, trade unionists, teachers, students, leaders of cultural groups and members of the minority communities. While individual actions or filing complaints proved to be ineffective, families of the disappeared united through networks. The Chilean Association of the Detained/Disappeared, the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo in Argentina, the Comadres of El Salvador and the Group for Mutual Support in Guatemala are some of the well-known state-based groups. The Latin American Federation of the Detained-Disappeared (FEDEFAM) was formed in 1981 to collectively respond to the illegal abductions carried out by twelve Latin American governments.
While no such strong uniformed networks exist in the CHT (or in the South Asian region for that matter) to protest disappearances and kidnappings, political parties from the CHT, and human rights and women’s networks have become the Bangladeshi government’s most outspoken and visible critics. For more than a decade now, cultural, political and religious events commemorate Kalpana Chakma’s disappearance and demand that the state takes action against the perpetrators.
Unfortunately, sex disaggregated data on disappearances and abduction is unavailable from Bangladesh. Also, while data is available on sexual and gender based violence, most of the international human rights bodies such as the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch do not offer sex disaggregated data on kidnappings, disappearances and extra-judicial killings. Women’s political activism often is unrecognised and undervalued. It is generally assumed that men are usually targeted for their political views and leadership, affiliations and gender while women and girls are abducted to punish the male family members or to perpetrate sexual and gender based violence against them. One of the consequences of such assumptions is manifested in women’s exclusion from official peace negotiations. No woman leader from the CHT participated in a formal capacity in the dialogues that culminated in the 1997 Accord. The gender-blind accord did not even recognise the physical threats faced by women and by children in the CHT.
However, we must also note that Kalpana now occupies a place beyond a gendered space in the society. Her political activism, personal life and ultimate disappearance are more than a narrative of just one female political activist. She has now become the face of resistance in the CHT.
Kalpana had once written in her diary, ‘When a lone caged bird wants to fly away, does it mean that she longs just for her own freedom? Do those who already know the freedom of the skies have to be caged? If she realises that she is trapped in this cage, it would be natural for her to express her anger towards those who have confined her. She doesn’t belong here, she has every right to reach for the limitless freedom of the skies’ (Kalpana Chakma’r Diary, Hill Women’s Federation edited, Dhaka: Srabon, 2001, p 20, translated by the author).
I wonder if she is writing about her life as a woman in a patriarchal society, as a refugee who had to cross a border or as a political activist whose struggle was against the state. Perhaps, she is talking about all different kinds of oppression. She represents many histories, countless faces and many different resistance movements.
There are so many unresolved questions. And the horrifying reality remains, for Kalpana, her family, community and for Bangladesh. Kalpana was subjected to state terror and was forcibly disappeared. Instead of teaching a lesson to others who dared to speak up against the oppression of the state, carried out by the army, the terror tactic backfired. Kalpana became a symbol of resistance. She has disappeared but her voice is still loud and clear. We can hear her call for freedom.
Bina D’Costa is a security analyst, at the Australian National University.
courtesy: New Age
An icon of struggle for justice
KALPANA, a word which means ‘imagination’, has indeed become an icon; her image is a vision for many of those who struggle for justice.
Kalpana’s image possesses a voice stronger than many voices. The many voices that we hear today of our leadership around us may be called noises having little or no substantial meaning beyond their vested party interests. But Kalpana through her life and ‘disappearance’ has become a voice, a symbol of inspiration for many voices and languages of protest.
This brings me to the limits and politics of language. Those of us who have been tutored in the discourse on security, peace and conflict use the word ‘disappearance’ without questioning it. While I acknowledge and recognise the value addition of the word, my issue is with the unproblematic use and coinage of the term. People do not just disappear; they are made to disappear by powerful forces, to repress voices, to terrorise those who are subjugated and marginalised. The ‘disappeared’ then acquire a voice and language of their own, which the movement carries on. But one needs to interrogate seriously the coinage of the term, the politics of ‘disappearance’, the tools or mechanisms through which people are made to ‘disappear’.
As the organising secretary of the Hill Women’s Federation, Kalpana had dreamed of a just and equitable society and state for men and women. One does not find an echo of this dream among the political leadership, neither among those who lead the jummas of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, nor among the leadership in the rest of Bangladesh.
While interviewing a top political leader of the CHT, I was told that women would be empowered once the people of CHT were empowered. The woman question was subsumed under the autonomy issue, similar to what has happened in the ‘his’-tory telling of 1971; ‘her’story is making itself heard only recently through the efforts of women writers and activists. However, mainstream ‘her’-stories are yet to integrate voices of the non-Bengali communities. Nationalism thus manifests its hegemony in varied forms and levels.
The CHT accord, which is supposedly the roadmap for peace in the CHT, apart from its many fault lines is totally silent on the woman question, on cases of ‘disappearance’, rape and human rights violations. One of the main architects of the accord had told me curtly that he was crafting peace, not doing gender. I marvelled at the arrogance and ignorance of power. Peace without justice in a country that has experienced genocide and rape of countless women? That has consistently, and rightly so, sought justice by demanding the trial of crimes against humanity. Something, I thought, must be very wrong with our thought processes, with our knowledge system, or, does politics in a nation-state imply politics and power-play by the dominant only? Where does one draw the line between ‘subjects’ and ‘citizens’?
Today, the HWF that Kalpana represented as a united cause of the hill people is divided into two factions, the JSS (Jana Sanghati Samiti) and the UPDF (United People’s Democratic Front). The gunfights between the two groups and the political culture emerging in the hills are far from democratic. One sees a replication of the national politics of Bangladesh in the hill region, the politics of personalised confrontation and polarisation, one that makes use of strong languages of labelling and counter-labelling. The united movement of the hill people resides only in the imagination now, but a very real question that confronts us, faced with the politics of divide and gun-power in one of the most militarised regions of the world, is: what created the divide? From where, and how, do arms come into the hands of these groups? The rationale for the continuous heavy militarisation of the CHT as handed down to us by the state is, it is essential for the maintenance of peace and security in the region. But do the hill leadership realise the political and human costs of these divides and its politics?
When the Bangladesh representative at the UN dismisses the existence of indigenous people in Bangladesh, when he claims not to see any connection between indigenous people and the CHT accord, the entire movement of the jumma peoples for over the last two decades for constitutional guarantees of their cultural distinctiveness, political and economic rights stares us in the face and one is left wondering at the nature of not only the state’s coercive powers but also at the process of state formation.
Although Kalpana’s vision of an exploitation-free society and state is continuously being trampled, her vision is the vision of the millions who have ‘disappeared’. They may have disappeared from our visual eye but they appear again and again with a voice and language that is more powerful than the voice and language of coercive powers. She is an icon who continues to inspire us toward establishing a just and equitable society for humanity.
Amena Mohsin teaches in the Department of International Relations, Dhaka University.
courtesy: New Age
‘Enquiry committee didn’t have full powers’
by Sadaf Noor-E-Islam
Professor Anupam Sen, vice-chancellor, Premier University, formerly professor of sociology, Chittagong University, was one of the members of the three-member judicial enquiry committee set up by Sheikh Hasina’s government in September 1996, to inquire into Kalpana Chakma’s abduction. I interviewed him last year, wanting to know his experiences as a committee member. I did so, specifically for the Kalpana Chakma special page, brought out by New Age every year on June 12, the day Kalpana Chakma was abducted. I did so at Saydia Gulrukh and Rahnuma Ahmed’s request.
It was difficult for Professor Sen to set aside time for the interview because of his busy work schedule. I was finally able to interview him after midday, June 9, 2010, but it was too late to catch New Age’s deadline for submission.
The interview was brief. I had a set of questions ready but was unable to make much headway with those. During the interview, other issues relevant to Kalpana’s abduction arose, such as, the enquiry committee’s failure, the role which the state could have taken, Bengali nationalism etc. I have written up the interview on the basis of hand-written notes which were taken during the interview, held at his vice-chancellor’s office.
The report was titled, ‘Rangamati Parbotto jelar Miss Kalpana Chakma opohrito howar ghotona todonto koribar jonno gothito todonto commission kortrik prodotto todonto protibedon’ Investigation report of the enquiry committee set up to investigate the abduction of Miss Kalpana Chakma of Rangamat, Hill district).
THE enquiry committee formed to investigate Kalpana Chakma’s abduction suffered from handicaps. Unless a committee has coercive powers, it cannot work fully. It cannot summon someone to appear before the committee. For this reason, we were unable to gain adequate information. Army personnel appeared before the committee to make their presentation, they all said the same thing. They had come prepared. But that is usual in the army. On the other hand, those who had come on behalf of Kalpana Chakma, there were a few discrepancies in what they said. They spoke as things had happened, ‘she is lost’, ‘where did she go?’
Who can find out? The enquiry committee had no mechanism to deliver a summons and to force someone to appear before the committee, [it did not have the power] to cross-examine [witnesses]. That is why the committee was unable to work fully.
Hill people have no problems with Bengali nationalism. They were the majority. In the mid-1970s, people from the plains began settling there. That was unjust. People from the plains were landless. As are the adivasis. Many of them have been uprooted. A vast tract of land in the hill tracts went underwater because of the Karnaphuli hydroelectric power project. Adivasis became homeless. The economy of the hill tracts was unable to benefit from hydroelectricity. Even though the hill tracts district is large, much of the land is uncultivable. Very little of the land is cultivated, and only through jhum (slash and burn) cultivation. The Bengalis are landless, as are the hill peoples. This has given rise to clashes between two wretched, dispossessed groups of people.
It was not necessary to settle landless Bengalis from the plains in the hill tracts. It was not necessary then, Bengali population was (only) eight and a half crores. It should have been possible to find employment for them in the plains. It has given rise to a perennial conflict.
In the case of Kalpana Chakma, the state did as expected. It attempted to discover, or not to discover the truth. It formed a commission in order to know the facts.
The state attempts to protect the rights of the individual. Simultaneously, also to protect the rights of groups. At times, these interests collide. That is perilous for the state.
I have already said, the enquiry committee had no mechanism. The weakness of the committee lay in not having any coercive powers. Hence, it collected as much information as it could. But the state does enjoy that power. If it had wanted, it could have done so. It still does. We did not have that power. We reported everything that we were able to unearth.
You get to hear various things about Kalpana’s abduction. Some have said, [reported] in newspapers that she escaped to India. It is a big rumour. We did not come across any such evidence.
As long as people from the plains are there, the conflict will exist in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. The economic reason is primary. There are rich paharis as well, but most of Bengalis in the CHT are poor. It is a struggle between two groups of people who are equally dispossessed.
Sadaf Noor teaches anthropology at Chittagong University.
courtesy: New Age
No trace of Kalpana, no end of probe!
IT TOOK the police nearly 14 years to finally submit its investigation report on the case of the abduction of Kalpana Chakma, then organising secretary of the Hill Women’s Federation. The report fails to identify any of her abductors.
Kalpana’s elder brother, Kalindi Kumar Chakma, rejected the report and submitted a petition which raised objections on the grounds that it failed to identify the abductors. The report, says his petition, ignored the statements of witnesses, including his younger brother Lalbehari Chakma, who had identified three of the abductors including Lieutenant Ferdous. Kalindi’s objection prompted the Rangamati chief judicial magistrate, M Shariful Islam, to order a reinvestigation of the case on September 2, 2010, instructing the Criminal Investigation Department to do so.
The investigating officer of the case, a sub-inspector of Baghaichari police, M Faruque Ahmed, submitted the report to the Rangamati judicial magistrate’s court on May 21, 2010, 14 years after Kalpana’s abduction.
Kalpana was abducted from her village home at New Lallyaghona of Baghaichari in Rangamati in the dead of night, several hours before polling to the seventh national election began on June 12, 1996. Kalpana was then campaigning for Bijay Ketan Chakma, an independent candidate, who was senior presidium member of the Pahari Gana Parishad, supported by all hill peoples’ organisations which were then active.
It has been nine months since the court instructed the Criminal Investigation Department to begin a reinvestigation. The investigation is yet to begin.
It is fifteen years to the day when Kalpana was forcibly disappeared, and we still do not know what occurred on June 12, 1996. Delay in beginning the fresh investigation is triggering doubts among many—will it take another 14 years for the new report to be submitted?
Kalpana’s brother Kalindi told New Age, ‘Nobody has visited us since the court ordered a reinvestigation. In previous years, people from many agencies kept meeting us; they had various queries regarding her abduction.’
Eyewitness accounts of the fateful night allege that Lieutenant Ferdous with 11 soldiers from the Kojoichari army barrack raided Kalpana Chakma’s home at 1:00am, six hours before the general elections. Kalpana was forcibly abducted along with her two brothers; the latter managed to escape, but she never made it back home.
The incident triggered widespread protests among the hill people, a general strike was called on June 27, attacks on protests led to the deaths of four young hill men—Rupon Chakma, Sukesh Chakma, Monotosh Chakma and Samar Chakma.
Amid continued protests of the hill people, the 24th infantry division distributed leaflets announcing an award of Tk 50,000 for information on the whereabouts of Kalpana.
Soon after, an almost unknown rights group Bangladesh Manabadhikar Commission, at a briefing in Dhaka, claimed that Kalpana was now in India. Kalpana’s mother Badhuni Chakma countered this. At another briefing, she said people of that so-called rights group had insisted she should say Kalpana had been abducted by the Shanti Bahini, the now-defunct armed group of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti which fought against military occupation of the CHT prior to the signing of the CHT Treaty in 1997.
Dhaka University public administration professor Nazmul Ahsan Kalimullah had been present at the Manabadhikar Commission’s briefing. While talking to New Age, Kalimullah said it was not he who had claimed that Kalpana was living in India.
‘It was the “finding” of the Manabadhikar Commission. I was present at the briefing as a member of Amnesty International, to observe what results the commission was reporting on the basis of its own investigation. There were a couple of exaggerations in the statements of both sides, both the Manabadhikar Commission and Kalpana’s mother.’
Growing local and international pressure finally led the government to form a three-member judicial inquiry committee in September 1996 headed by retired Supreme Court judge Abdul Jalil. Its two other members were then commissioner of Chittagong division M Sakhawat Hossain and Chittagong University sociology professor Anupam Sen.
The committee interviewed 94 people, including Kalpana’s brothers, Bijay Ketan Chakma, an independent candidate, for whom Kalpana had been campaigning, local government representatives, leaders of Bengali settlers, the prime accused Lieutenant Ferdous Kaiser Khan and members of the army, the police and the village defence party. Bijay Ketan also submitted a Bengali transcript of Kalpana’s mother’s statement which he took on June 12, to the judicial committee. The committee submitted its report to the home ministry but the report is yet to be made public.
Abdullah Juberee is a senior staff
correspondent of New Age.
courtesy: New Age
Inquiry absolves military, VDP of Kalpana abduction
The inquiry commission set up to investigate the abduction of Kalpana Chakma, then organising secretary of the Hill Women’s Federation, 15 years ago, found no involvement of the military or the Village Defence Party in the abduction.
The probe also failed to identify any abductor but resolved that ‘she had been abducted willingly or unwillingly.’
The widespread demand of the hill people and local and international rights organisations for making the report public has not been heeded for 14 years. New Age has obtained a copy of the report.
Till the filing of its report, the commission deemed Kalpana to be alive. It called on the home ministry to instruct the police to continue its investigation of the case filed with the Baghaichari police, still pending with the judicial magistrate’s court in Rangamati, to rescue her and to take action against her abductors.
The commission, composed of retired Supreme Court judge M Abdul Jalil, then commissioner of the Chittagong division M Sakhawat Hossain and Chittagong University sociology professor Anupam Sen, was set up on September 7, 1996 under the Commission of Inquiry Act 1956 amid widespread demonstrations by the hill people and severe pressure from local and international rights groups. It was asked to submit report in 30 days.
The commission interviewed 94 people of both sides. They included Kalpana’s brothers, villagers, local government representatives, journalists, rights defenders, leaders of Bengali settlers and members of the military, police and village defence party, district administration and the prime accused Lieutenant Ferdous Kaiser Khan.
It submitted a 40-page report to the ministry of home on February 27, 1997, five months and three weeks after its formation.
The report contains a paragraph of ‘decision,’ three paragraphs of ‘recommendations and comments,’ a brief description of depositions of each of the 94 witnesses, 10 pages of analyses, the first information report recorded by the Baghaichari police and some other documents.
Kalpana, a bachelor’s student at the Baghaichari Kachalang College, was abducted from her village home at New Lallyaghona of Baghaichari in Rangamati the night before polling to the seventh national elections began on June 12, 1996.
Kalpana was then campaigning for Bijay Ketan Chakma, an independent candidate, who was a senior presidium member of the Pahari Gana Parishad, supported by all hill peoples’ organisations then active.
Analysing depositions the people gave before the commission, the commission resolved, ‘[Neither] Lieutenant Ferdous and the two members of the Village Defence Party nor the army nor the VDP were involved in the reported abduction of Kalpana Chakma.’
‘Kalpana Chakma has willingly or unwilling been abducted but it was not possible for us to identify the abductor for lack of witnesses and evidence and there remains no grounds to recommend that legal action should be taken against anyone,’ the report concluded.
The commission also observed that many of the witnesses did not provide actual information, that they were afraid because of personal security concerns, and, that it had been impossible for the commission to get any ‘real information’ because the witnesses who had given their deposition before it were divided.
‘Suspicion, mistrust and in some cases rivalry between the tribal and non-tribal people in the Chittagong Hill Tracts have now reached a level which made it impossible to get actual information about the abductors. And many of them did not provide actual information for lack of security,’ the report said.
In their depositions, the hill people accused the military and the village defence party for the abduction while the members of the army and other law enforcement agencies and leaders of Bengali settlers were of the opinion that the Shanti Bahini had abducted her as ‘she was not working in compliance with its instruction.’
Depositions recorded by the commission showed that the depositions of hill people and local government representatives varied but depositions of the personnel of the military and other agencies were almost similar.
In its report, the commission said that the abduction of Kalpana was one among many incidents which had taken place in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. ‘Such incidents were rooted in financial want and deprivation. As by-products of the two, unrest, resentment and severe conflict are prevailing among tribal and non-tribal people.’
The report suggested taking specific measures to reduce the animosity between the ‘tribal’ and the ‘non-tribal’ people which might include a permanent political solution to the problem, to honour and protect rights of both the groups of people, to better law and order, and to further the economy of the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
The commission found only four persons to have been eyewitnesses to Kalpana’s abduction which had taken place between 1:00am and 1:30am on June 12, 1996.
Two of them, Kalpana’s elder brothers Kalindi Kumar Chakma and Lalbihari Chakma, gave their depositions before the commission. The remaining two, Kalpana’s mother Badhuni Chakma and Kalindi’s wife, did not turn up.
The commission resolved that the statements of Kalindi Kumar Chakma and Lalbihari Chakma before the commission were ‘untrue and baseless’ as they lacked ‘consistency’ with the statements they made earlier.
The report says that Kalindi’s first information report with the Baghaichari police and his deposition to the Baghaichari thana nirbahi officer have no mention of Lieutenant Ferdous or the military or any law enforcement agencies and he mentioned the military for the first time before the commission on October 27, 1996. There is no mention in the report about whether the commission had sought any clarification from Kalindi regarding the inconsistency in his statements.
The report says that in between Kalpana’s abduction and Kalindi’s deposition before the commission, a number of individuals, organisations, newspaper representatives have talked with Kalpana’s brothers, have gone on demonstrations and shouted slogans against the armed forces and Lieutenant Ferdous.
The commission observed that Kalindi and Lalbihari were influenced by these individuals and organisations, that they had shifted their stance and had started levelling false allegations against the military, Lieutenant Ferdous and two members of the VDP. ‘Even the two, who are farmers in village, were taken to a news conference in the Dhaka press club by Hill Women’s Federation.’
The commission said that if Lalbihari had identified Ferdous, Nurul Huq and Saleh Ahmed in that night, he would certainly have said it to his brother before he made his deposition to the thana nirbahi officer as Kalindi had given his testimony to the TNO, and filed the FIR with the police after consulting him.
The commission rejected straightway other independent investigations and the collection of depositions by various organisations as they had no ‘legal right’ to conduct such investigations or to collect depositions. But the commission took cognisance of the activities of Bangladesh Manabadhikar Commission and attached due importance to a video clip which it had given to the military.
The commission did not take into account the Bengali transcript of an interview with Kalpana’s mother Badhuni Chakma, and the original audio interview in the Chakma language taken by Bijay Ketan Chakma, maintaining that it was not possible to confirm the authenticity of the voice.
It, however, took into account the video clip provided by the military intelligence which depicted Badhuni as saying that Kalpana was well, that she had been in contact with her, as Badhuni’s face in the video was the same as her photographs published in newspapers.
Analysing the reasons for attempts to specifically implicate Lieutenant Ferdous in Kalpana’s abduction, the commission observed that it might be a sequel to his ‘successful operations’ against the Shanti Bahini (the armed wing of the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti during the insurgency period).
Besides, the commission also observed that it was not surprising that the military had been implicated in her abduction as the military camp in the locality had obstructed their activities.
The commission also took the intelligence reports submitted by the military into account which claimed that the Shanti Bahini had abducted Kalpana and had passed the blame on to the military to tarnish its image.
The commission also accepted the military’s opinion that the ‘ammunition pouch’ which was left by Kalpana’s abductors and later deposited with the Baghachari police was not of the pattern that the military or other law enforcement agencies use. The commission also questioned the incident of gunshots being fired during Kalpana’s abduction as only three of the 94 witnesses heard them.
The commission also took into account intelligence reports and a news report published in daily Sangbad which said that Kalpana had been taken to the Indian state of Tripura by Shanti Bahini and was living in a protected village of Andarchhara, close to the India-Bangladesh border.
The report said that the commission could not confirm the authenticity of the information but observed that the ‘mystery’ could be resolved if discussions were held between India and Bangladesh or the government held discussions with the Shanti Bahini.
As for possibility that Kalpana had been abducted by the Shanti Bahini, the commission said, ‘Although depositions of some witnesses point fingers at the Shanti Bahini but there is no direct evidence against any member of the Shanti Bahini. Nobody can be implicated on the basis of assumptions only.’