Indian Catholic News

Rohingya woman shot dead in Bangladesh drug war

Police say they found 10,000 yaba tablets in the 20-year-old's handbag.

A file image of Rohingya refugees entering Bangladesh through Shah Porir Dwip Island after fleeing a military crackdown in Myanmar on Sept. 30, 2017. A Rohingya woman was among three suspected drug dealers killed in a police operation in Bangladesh on March 31. (Photo by Stephan Uttom/

A young Rohingya woman was among three people killed during anti-drug operations by Bangladeshi police in the Cox’s Bazar district on March 31.

Rumana Akter, 20, from the Leda refugee camp near Teknaf town of Cox’s Bazar, died in hospital after being shot during a police operation, a police official said.

Police alleged the married woman was involved in a drug syndicate trafficking yaba (crazy drug), a vanilla-scented methamphetamine produced in Myanmar.

Police said they found 10,000 yaba tablets in Rumana’s handbag, two knives and her identity card.

“Police learnt a large cache of yaba was ready to enter Bangladesh territory via the Naf River during the early hours of March 31. When police officers attempted to arrest the suspects, they came under gun and knife attack and they responded by firing,” Prodip Kumar Das, officer in charge of Teknaf police station, told

The police confronted Rumana and other suspects at a canal just off the river. The other suspects fled the scene.

Teknaf, just across the Myanmar border, is the main smuggling point of yaba in Bangladesh.

On that same day, two suspected Bangladeshi drug dealers were killed by police in another police operation. Police said the deaths occurred when a gun battle developed. Three policemen were injured in this incident, Das said.

Some of the suspects fled leaving behind six sharp weapons, 18 rounds of ammunition and 10,000 yaba tablets, he said.

Rohingya arrests

In recent weeks, police have arrested dozens of Rohingya for possessing yaba in both Cox’s Bazar and capital Dhaka, local media have reported.

Bangladesh’s war against illegal drugs started in May 2018 after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina vowed to uproot the menace of drugs from the country.

Since then more than 300 people, mostly alleged drug dealers, have been killed in so-called police shootouts. About 25,000 have been arrested on drug charges. Among the dead are 20 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar.

Holy Cross Archbishop Moses M. Costa of Chittagong Archdiocese, which covers Cox’s Bazar, said if some Rohingya are involved in drug dealing, then they have been exploited to do so.

Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar is home to more than a million Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, the majority of whom fled deadly Myanmar military crackdowns in 2016 and 2017.

“The government needs to collaborate with aid agencies in the camps so to best promote anti-drug awareness among Rohingya refugees,” Archbishop Costa told

Bangladesh has also amended its drug laws and introduced the death penalty as the highest punishment for drug dealing.

Rights groups, including New York-based Human Rights Watch, have urged the government to stop what they describe as extrajudicial killings in the name of a war against drugs.

Prominent rights activist Sultana Kamal said both drug dealing and extrajudicial killings are heinous crimes.

“We’ve warned that due to their poverty and misery the Rohingya might get involved in drug trafficking and sadly it has happened. But we denounce extrajudicial killings and demand a proper probe into all of the deaths,” Kamal told

“Both poor Bangladeshi people and Rohingya should get adequate support to have a better life, so they don’t see the need to resort to drug trafficking.”

Source: UCAN

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