The decision of the government to remove Mohammad Abul Kalam, the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner (RRRC) from Cox’s Bazar office, and seven camps-in-charge came hard on the heels of a second failed repatriation attempt and a huge rally organized by the Rohingyas, according to separate gazette notifications issued by the Public Administration Ministry on September 2, 2019.
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.
Kalam 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.
Mohammad Mahbub Alam Talukder, director (joint secretary) of the Department of Disaster Management, will replace the outgoing RRRC, said another gazette issued by the Public Administration Ministry.
Kalam who oversaw the arrival of about 740,000 Rohingyas since August 25, 2017, said, “Look, I am a civil servant. I have to go where the government wants me to go and the seven camps-in-charge are working in the camps in Ukhiya and Teknaf.”
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 on the pretext of the failed second repatriation attempt and the subsequent Rohingya rally.”
Some also suggested that Kalam had been a victim of professional jealousy and non-coordination between his office and the office of the deputy commissioner of Cox’s Bazar.
The wife of one of the transferred CICs, Naffy Sah, defiantly protested her husband’s removal from the post on Facebook, writing: “This was seen as a threat? No space for humanitarian or revolutionary instincts as a civil servant in a country which was born after suffering a genocide which it commemorates each year.”