A tribute to Romel Chakma



In April, we have witnessed the custodial death of Romel Chakma, an HSC examinee from Nanyarchar, Rangamati. However, this is not the first time in history of Bangladesh a student died in custody. In 1998, the death of Shamim Reza Rubel, a student of Independent University was picked up from his house by detective branch, Bangladesh Police, less than 24 hours later he was returned as a lump of flesh, dead. This list is much longer.


Student bodies from different corners of the country condemned the tragic end of Romel’s life and expressed their opinion about the ways custodial death could be prevented in Bangladesh. Young students of Bangladesh dared to talk about this injustice with New Age Youth.


What do you think about custodial deaths in Bangladesh?


Asma Akter

Age 22

University of Dhaka

AsmaCustodial torture and death are becoming common occurrence in Bangladesh; such deaths have extra-ordinary political consequence in Chittagong where Jumma people are subjected to Bengali domination — ethnic, social, political and administrative. Torture and other ill-treatment in custody were widespread; however, complaints were rarely investigated. The 2013 Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention) Act was poorly enforced due to a lack of political will and awareness among law enforcement agencies.

Basically day by day our government becoming so much indifferent about the ethnic minority people as well as the general people of our country!! It seems, security agencies are particularly vengeful when it comes to student leaders.  Romel Chakma is one of the recent example of it. Kalpana Chakma was also abducted by state forces. Television and print media have unofficial restrictions to publish this sort of ‘controversial’ news. As a result general people, especially young generation are losing their respect as well as belief in current law enforcement and the government too. Custodial death is becoming more and more regular everywhere in Bangladesh!

Within short time this must be stopped. There will be always voices against fascist government, if there is any dictator. As a youth said,

‘Every time you kill, I will be born again.

I’ll be a wonderful sunrise to write a new history…’


Akash Mazumder

Age 24

Government Titumir College

AkashThese types of custodial deaths are actually the deaths of our future generations, deaths of our freedom and deaths of our humanity. We fought against brutal Pakistani regime in 1971 and freed our country but after 45 years of liberation, we can’t free ourselves from some monsters that look like human being.

Suppose, Romel Chakma is a terrorist, he is accused of many cases. He is a threat for his area. But after all these things, as a citizen of a free country, he has the right to appeal and to get the justice. But by killing him, those law enforcers lost common people’s hope.

How can they be the saver of law..?

And at last I can say, this is not expected from the saver of law. This is a threat for a free and sovereign country. So we all should protest against this type of safe ‘crime’.


Oliur Rahman

Age 24

Jahangirnagar University


OliurFirst of all, the term ‘custodial death’ needs to be rephrased as ‘custodial killing’ because the word ‘death’ does not contain the sense of the crime involved in this particular phenomenon. However, the death of Romel Chakma is not simply a case of custodial killing. It is an instance of ethnic cleansing, a real expression of the exclusion of ethnic identities that the whole concept of ‘Bangali’ conceals. It means that now more than anything we need a radical re-conceptualization of the constituting factors of the state so it becomes more inclusive and less hegemonic to the ‘other’ it creates.


Abdus Sami

Age 21

Bangladesh University of Professionals

SamiOn November 6, 2016, the management of Rangpur sugar mills conducted an eviction drive to reclaim a disputed land against the Santals where several hundred Santals had built their houses. During that eviction, three Santals were shot dead, 20 were injured and houses of Santals were set on fire. We have seen a video footage of Al-Jazeera where two cops and a man in civil dress were seen setting fire to one of the houses in the presence of a group of cops in bulletproof vest. This is an example of the custodial deaths of Bangladesh. The persons who are chosen to protect us and give us security; they are killing us, the citizens of Bangladesh. Where should we go for help? I know this problem is not only in Bangladesh rather than others developing countries are also facing this like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka. But we need to stop this. There should be a close and strict surveillance in place to monitor the works of RAB, police and military. Our government should be highly concern about the increasing rate of custodial deaths in our country.


Ajal Dewan

Age 26

Member, Hill Blogger & Online Activist Forum

Student, Shahjalal University of Science and Technology

AjalThe culture of impunity that different forces responsible for ensuring law and order situation in Bangladesh are disturbing but must be underscored. According to Ain of Salish Kendra, in 2016, there has been 150 case of killing occurred in the hands of state’s security forces. Young men are picked up from their houses never returned or found dead. The last case of such brutalities happened in Nanyarchar Bazaar when members of Bangladesh army picked Romel Chakma up on April 5. He later died from torture induced injury. The security forces in Bangladesh who are responsible to ensure safety and security of its citizen are found engaged in torture and killing. Such atrocious acts are making people more vulnerable, more importantly; it is making the political situation of the country unstable. The government’s silence on the matter is rather escalating custodial brutalities and human rights violation. The government must bring the perpetrators to justice; otherwise law order situation in the country will continue to take a turn towards the worst.



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