Bangladesh: Tension soars between Rohingya, locals over murder of politician

By Mostafa Yousuf / The Daily StarThe killing of a local politician by a few rogue Rohingya at a Teknaf camp worsens already strained relations between the groups.

Tensions ran high in Teknaf’s Hnila union on Aug. 24 after some Rohingya criminals killed a local politician at a refugee camp in the area on the night of Aug. 22.

The Rohingya at the camp feared that something bad might happen in the fallout from the murder. They were not going out unless there was an emergency.

Locals were also cautious about moving about near the camp, inhabited by nearly 10,000 Rohingya.

Thirty-year-old Omar Faruk, president of Hnila Union Parishad Jubo League, was found murdered in the Jadimura area early Aug. 23. His family alleged that he had been picked up by some Rohingya before being murdered.

ABM Masud Hossain, superintendent of police in Cox’s Bazar, told The Daily Star that Faruk had an altercation with the leader of a Rohingya gang at the camp. At one point, the gang members shot him in the head, leaving him dead.

As the news spread, hundreds of locals blocked the Cox’s Bazar-Teknaf highway in protest on the morning of Aug. 23. Later, they vandalized a couple of houses and shops at the camp.

Early Aug. 24, two Rohingya, accused in a case filed over the murder, were killed in a “gunfight” with police in the same area.

Visiting the camp later in the day, The Daily Star correspondent found the situation tense.

Many of the Rohingya said a sense of panic gripped them following the vandalism on Aug. 23.

Meanwhile, Faruk’s brother, Amir Hamza, alleged that the victim was killed by some Rohingya goons hired by his political rivals. He said his brother wanted to be a member candidate for Ward-9 in the upcoming Hnila union parishad election.

Hamza demanded justice.

Talking to The Daily Star, many locals said the murder has left them furious.

Jashim Uddin, a grocer from Jadimura village, said as time passed, locals’ attitude towards the refugees has changed.

He said he had lent help to many Rohingya when they first arrived in the area in 2017 fleeing persecution in Myanmar. But now, things are different as some Rohingya allegedly forced him to shift his small shop elsewhere.

Several locals alleged that some Rohingya gangs were engaged in criminal activities in the area. They also blamed the Rohingya influx for a hike in prices of essentials and transport costs.

Hamidul Haque Chowdhury, chairman of Ukhiya upazila, said they initially thought the Rohingya would go back to their homeland soon, but that did not happen.

Rohingya leader Mujib Ullah, head Majhi of Thengkhali camp, said they too were suffering due to the Rohingya gangs.

“We’re the real sufferers. We are the real victims of the gangs,” he said.

Boni Amin, a Rohingya man at the Kutupalong Rohingya camp, told The Daily Star that they wanted peace. He said there was rising anger among the host communities due to different crimes committed by the Rohingya gangs.

Abul Mansur, officer in charge of Ukhiya Police Station, said they were taking steps to avert any untoward situation between the Rohingyas and the host communities.

“We held talks with locals in this regard,” he said.Speech

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