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Rohingya groups under scanner over Bangladeshi Buddhist attack

Publication Date : 07-10-2012


Burmese Rohingya insurgent groups are suspected of being involved in attack on Buddhist community in Ramu, Bangladesh


The Rohingya insurgent groups of Rakhine state in Myanmar are suspected of being among the key planners of last week's mayhem on Buddhist community at Ramu.

Leaders and activists of four Rohingya outfits have long been staying in Bangladesh, especially in Chittagong, Cox's Bazar, Bandarban, Khagrachhari and Rangamati.

These organisations are Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO), Arakan Rohingya Nationalist Organisation (ARNO), National United Party of Arakan (NUPA) and Istehadul Tullabul Muslemin (ITM).

The RSO tops the list of suspects as it participated in attacks on Buddhist temples and houses on the night of Sept. 29, according to a person who has long and intimate relations with some RSO leaders and activists.

Meanwhile, sources said a group of RSO leaders had been staying in a Cox's Bazar hotel for a few days before the Ramu attacks.

Some of these leaders belonged to Abdullah Mohammad Salamatullah's faction in the militant organisation, sources claimed.

A police official confirmed that they have been gathering information in this regard but would not disclose any progress for the sake of investigation.

As law enforcers have information on the presence of some RSO leaders in Cox's Bazar immediately before the attack, suspicion fall on other Rohingya groups too, the official added.

The person close to the RSO told this correspondent that several hundred rioters who came to Ramu from Garzania and Naikhangchhari in Bandarban were RSO members.

They belonged to Muammed Yunus-led faction and Yunus's follower Hafez Abdullah and Mahmudullah played key roles to mobilise them.

Another group of Rohingyas came from Cox's Bazar.

Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), a banned Islamist militant organisation of the country, had close links with the RSO, JMB's explosives expert Boma Mizan said during interrogations.

Some JMB operatives received training from RSO arms experts in camps in remote hilly area of Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami (Huji) Bangladesh, another outlawed Islamist outfit, too had strong connections with RSO.

Internal groupings under the leadership of Yunus, Salamatullah and a few other leaders have been weakening the RSO gradually since the late 90s.

Having the blessings of Nurul Islam, known as a boss of RSO, Salamatullah has been elevated to the top of the organisation.

There was also rivalry among RSO, ARNO and NUPA. More than a year ago, Salamatullah strove to unite all the Rohingya militant groups to regain strength.

The Istehadul Tullabul Muslemin—known as student front of RSO—acts as the main force behind all Rohingya terror operations. Its leaders are well trained in arms and explosives and also provide arms training to others.

An Islamic political party and its student wing leaders also played a significant role in bringing attackers from Cox's Bazar and some other areas, the source close to RSO added.

The Daily Star earlier talked to a number of witnesses who claimed they saw Rohingyas in anti-Buddhist processions and rallies on the night of Sept. 29.

Faruk in custody

Omar Faruk was brought from his house to Ramu Police Station yesterday as some top police officials of greater Chittagong region will interrogate him, a local officer said.

Faruk has mobile servicing shop at Fakirabazar in Ramu.

He told The Daily Star earlier that he saw an image defaming the Quran on his Facebook home page. His Facebook friend Uttam Kumar Barua, a local Buddhist, was tagged in the photo.

That picture was supplied from Faruk's shop to other locals and later circulated like wildfire in and around Ramu.

Faruk will be in custody for the sake of the interrogation, said a police official. But he was not shown arrested in any case.


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