‘Block raids’ coming to Rangamati

‘Block raids’ coming to Rangamati

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Rangamati – Rangamati police were set to commence ‘block raids’ in the sadar town from Saturday, apparently with a view to strengthen their anti-terrorism and anti-drugs position ahead of Ramadan. UNB news agency reported
Sayeed Tarikul Hasan, superintendent of police in Rangamati, has already passed a directive to the additional superintendent of police (crime) in Rangamati in this regard, the SP informed, during a views-exchange meeting with journalists in his office on Saturday morning.
Police would step up patrolling some points of the Rangamati-Chittagong highway to ensure safety of vehicles and passengers, Tarikul Hasan said, adding that they also will take necessary measures to ensure safe movement of tourists during the Eid holidays in the area.
Despite the police’s assurances, the people of Rangamati may be understandably disturbed at the idea of the so-called block raids, during which law enforcers seemingly enjoy carte-blanche to exercise the full range of their capabilities against suspected individuals, even those with no previous criminal record or any allegations proven against them.
Block raids gained prominence and became in a sense ‘normalised’ as part of anti-terrorist drives by police and other forces in the wake of last year’s July 1 terror incident in capital Dhaka.
But the residents of Rangamati have hardly had time to digest the horrendous fate that befell student activist Romel Chakma, general secretary of the Pahari Chhatra Parishad’s Rangamati unit, after being picked up by the army on April 5. His custodial death on April 21, after being admitted to Chittagong Medical College Hospital by the army in a critical state just the previous day, sparked widespread protests throughout the country.
But it was particularly disturbing for the indigenous population of Rangamati, part of the Chittagong Hill Tracts where tensions have long simmered just beneath the surface (following decades of an outright insurgency) in relations between locals on one side, and Bengali settlers and the state machinery on the other.
The journalists during Saturday’s meeting requested police to boost patrolling activities in front of all the markets and shopping malls in the district town during Ramadan, so that women and girls can do their shopping in peace and free of sexual harassment.
They also asked him to take steps to work with the local administration to ensure uninterrupted flow of electricity during the times of Sehri, Iftar and Taraweeh prayers in the upcoming month of Ramadan.

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