Monday, 18 November 2019

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Burma-Bangla border safe haven for robbers

Dhaka (Mizzima) – Plagued by an increasing number of robberies along the Burma-Bangladesh border, villagers in Maungdaw Township, northern Arakan State have been compelled to build guard posts and arrange for sentry duty, sources said.

With authorities failing to act, villagers along the Naf River collectively began arranging for guard duty in groups of five from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. The guards alert villages at the sight of suspicious strangers.

“Since we cannot rely on the border security force [known as Nasaka], we are forced to guard our villages,” a local headman of Phyuu Ma village in Maungdaw township, told Mizzima.

Nasaka often fires in the sky when they are told of robberies being committed and often doze off at the stations or make an excuse of not being permitted by higher-ups to intervene.

Maungdaw Township is on the Burma-Bangladesh border of Burma’s western state of Arakan. The border is the Naf River, a busy river route used both by businessmen and traders as well as by illegal immigrants to cross over to Bangladesh.

Lack of security measures makes the border a safe haven for robbers, who loot traders, businessmen, and also villages.

“Nobody gave us the responsibility of guarding villages, but since we struggle to earn a living, we can no longer tolerate the looting,” the village headman said.

The guard duty by each man for two nights till his next round is managed by the local township councils.

Locals said, with the border security force not taking measures, the robbers have become emboldened since early 2010 and often disguise themselves as officials paying midnight visits to check on overnight guests. 

At least three robberies, including that in the house of the chairman of Ward No. (5) near Maungdaw town, have taken place in February, according to Arakan News  agency, in exile, Narinjara.

In fear of robberies, villages along the Naf River including Kappa Kaung, Ngakhura, Yut Nyo Taung, Sapeayin, Thibawlaha, Yan Aung Pyin, Kyaing Gyuang, Tamantha, Taung Pyong, Leikyakone and Phyuu Ma villages, have began guarding their villages.

The robberies, which were initially frequent in Maungdaw Township, have also reportedly spread to neighbouring township of Buthitaung.

Local police, however, told Mizzima that most robbers are people who have fled to Bangladesh. These people, according to police, cross the Naf River into Burma and loot houses and go back to Bangladesh.

A police official, requesting anonymity, told Mizzima, “We are doing as much as we can to trace the robbers. But the problem is that the robbers do not seem to be residing on the Burmese side of the border. They cross the Naf River during the night and go back to Bangladesh after the burglary.”

“This requires cooperation between the border security forces of the two countries,” he added.

Similarly, the Bangladesh border security force, Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) sources told Mizzima that the BDR had also traced robbers, who were robbing traders and travellers, but they cross over to Burma side of the border.


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