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Monday, October 5, 2009

Bangladesh: Deputy Commission of Bandarban issued unlawful letter to Headmen

Picture (courtesy Kapaeeng Foundation): The letter of the DC of Bandarban district.

Source: Kapaeeng Foundation.

On 23 September 2009 Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Bandarban district Mr. Mizanur Rahman issued a letter to all Headmen of Bohmong circle ordering not to issue any land deed to any person without permission from him. Issuance of this letter is controdictory to the rights of indigenous Jumma peoples in CHT. He also threatened that Headman would be removed from his headmanship if any Headman handed over such deed.

It is mentionable that according to Chittagong Hill Tracts Regulation of 1990, Headmen of CHT region have the rights to give settlement of 0.30 acre of land to any mouza resident and accordingly to issue land deed to him.

It is also worth mentioning that the land lands under the jurisdiction of mouza are regarded as common property of mouza residents. The common lands are those which belong to the indigenous community with shared rights of access. The indigenous people have right to these lands and its resources, by virtue of their common ownership of these areas, and traditional economic activities such as fishing, hunting and gathering are carried out in these areas. Jum lands fall within this category, as do the lands used for orchards, grazing and for growing sungrass (used to make thatched roofs). The forests are also included within this category of mouza commons, and are the common property pf the indigenous community with equal rights of access, use and extraction.

However, Deputy Commissioner of Bandarban issued this letter violating the rights of indigenous Jumma peoples and rights & responsibilities of Headmen. He one-sidedly claimed these lands as state-owned. He also indiscriminately alleged against the Headmen to have involved with corruption.

DC also issued a letter to Mr. Loyal Devid Bawm, a member of CHT Regional Council to stop construction of building for tribal museum at Shita Pahar (Chimbuk-Thanchi road) of Pantala mouza under Ruma upazila in Bandarban district. He claimed that construction of building on government land without permission is illegal. However, Mr. Bawm got permission/recommendation from Mr. Lumlai Mro, Headman of Pantala mouza & local Jumma villagers and accordingly applied for registration for this land.

Local residents believed that DC of Bandarban district starts these activities when the possibility of functioning of land commission for resolution of land disputes in CHT is seen.

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