The returnee well linked to authorities | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 16, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:04 PM, April 16, 2018

The returnee well linked to authorities

They don't trust him at all.

Most of the Rohingyas who took shelter in no man's land along the Tombru border in Naikhyangchhari believe that Aktar Alam is an “informer of Myanmar police”.

He maintains good links with the Border Guard Police (BGP) of Myanmar and the local administration in Maungdaw, and updates the authorities on the activities in the border area, according to a number of refugees.

Several thousand Rohingyas have been living in the zone since August, crammed into a cluster of tents. Aktar is one of them.

But when these correspondents met him in mid-October last year, his clothes and attitude bore no signs that he was a member of a persecuted community and driven out of home.

A Myanmar government statement posted late Saturday says a refugee family became the first to be processed in newly-built reception centres earlier in the day.

"The five members of a family... came back to Taungpyoletwei town repatriation camp in Rakhine State this morning," said a statement posted on the Information Committee's Facebook page, write AFP.

It was Aktar, his wife Sajeda Begum, daughter Tahera, son Tarek Aziz and neighbour Shawkat Ara who left late Saturday night.

They had been living in a camp in no man's land between the two countries, meaning the Bangladesh government had no formal role in their return, said Bangladesh's Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) Abul Kalam.

Some Rohingyas said that Aktar had been in touch with the Myanmar administration since the beginning of the crisis in late August. He was also an elected representative of people in Maungdaw of Rakhine State. 

This newspaper talked to Aktar twice and on both occasions he was wearing ironed white shirts and an apparently expensive wrist watch.

Puffing cigarettes and chewing betel leaf, he casually said he worked with the BGP and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) as an interpreter on various occasions and helped the local administration in Myanmar in various tasks.

When violence erupted in Myanmar last year, Aktar said, he was assured that he need not worry, but eventually he was forced to leave the house. He, however, stayed connected to officials in the BGP and the local administration to know the updates about his property.

Aktar claimed he owned more than 100 acres of land, a two-storey building, two private cars and a motorbike. He also ran timber trade “both in Myanmar and Bangladesh”.

Like him, he said, his father was also the chairman in Balibazar in Maungdaw of Rakhine State. His property was not damaged or looted in the crackdown and he wanted to go back to his house.

In the presence of these correspondents, Aktar talked to someone over cell phone. Asked who he was talking to, he said it was BGP officials.  

Md Jahir Ahmed, head teacher of Madhyam Ghumdhum Government Primary School, said Aktar was an influential man in Myanmar and helped the Myanmar government on administrative issues.

Although the man took shelter in no man's land on Myanmar's side, most of the time he used to stay inside Bangladesh, claimed Jahir.

Deen Mohammad, a Rohingya community leader, said Aktar's movement in no man's land was “suspicious” and he regularly communicated with the BGP.

Khaleda Hossain, a Rohingya refugee in no man's land, said the way the chairman of Balibazar went back was not a right thing to do, and it will not bring any good to them.

Md Erfan, another refugee, said Aktar “betrayed” the Rohingya community as he went back in the middle of night and without informing anyone.

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