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RRRC Kalam transferred, made OSD

  • Published at 03:41 pm September 2nd, 2019
Bangladesh’s Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) Mohammad Abul Kalam
File photo: Mohammad Abul Kalam Dhaka Tribune

7 camps-in-charge also transferred in a surprise move comes after failed repatriation attempt and Rohingya rally

In an apparent surprise move, the government yesterday decided to remove Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) Mohammad Abul Kalam based in Cox’s Bazar from his position.

He has been made an officer on special duty (OSD) under the Ministry of Public Administration and attached to the Ministry of Textiles and Jute, according to a gazette notification issued by government.

Kalam has been asked to join his new place within Thursday and failure to do so will result in stand release, it said.

He has been the RRRC since February, 2017.

Md Mahbub Alam Talukder, director (joint secretary) of Department of Disaster Management, will replace the outgoing RRRC, said another gazette issued by the Public Administration Ministry.

Meanwhile, seven camps-in-charge were also transferred along with their boss.

“They are working in the camps in Ukhiya and Teknaf,” said Kalam.

The decision of the government to remove Kalam, an additional secretary of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, and seven more came hard on the heels of a second failed repatriation attempt and a huge rally organised by the Rohingyas in their settlements to commemorate the second year of the latest Rohingya exodus that began on August 25, 2017.

The rally attended by over 100,000 Rohingyas caused a stir among many in the government and the members of the public.

The actual reason behind the sudden transfer of the top man on the ground in terms of dealing with the Rohingya crisis was not immediately known.

Despite repeated attempts, State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain and Secretary Faiz Ahmed could not be reached for their comments about the transfer that is being widely spoken among the people.

When contacted, Kalam, who oversaw the arrival of about 740,000 Rohingyas since August 25, 2017, told the Dhaka Tribune, “Look, I am a civil servant. I have to go where the government wants me to go.”

However, some of his colleagues told this correspondent that ‘the RRRC was hurt by this disgraceful exit’.

The day’s decision has surprised many individuals, as they think that Kalam was doing his job well.

Journalists in Cox’s Bazar, officials of the Commission and development workers have spoken highly of him and observed that ‘he was made a scapegoat in the pretext of the failed second repatriation attempt and the subsequent Rohingya rally’.

Some also suggested that ‘he had been a victim of professional jealousy and non-coordination between his office and the office of the deputy commissioner of Cox’s Bazar’.

“You see, I am his subordinate. Naturally, I will speak good about him. But, if you speak with the people he had to deal with everyday, you will know what a hard working man he is,” said a colleague of Kalam.

When asked whose purpose was served by his removal, he said, “I would say that his removal will only serve the purposes of Myanmar.”

“He has been the humanitarian face for Bangladesh on the face of the globe since the latest crisis,” he added.

“As far as I know, he was doing his job well,” said a humanitarian worker, who has experience of working with the outgoing RRRC.

Born in 1963 in Chittagong, Kalam joined the Bangladesh Civil Service in 1997 at the Finance Division of the Ministry of Finance. Before joining as the RRRC, he served different ministries in different positions.

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