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Friday, December 31, 2010

Remove justice Khadem as land comission chief: PCJSS

Source: The DailyStar

Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity (PCJSS) yesterday demanded removal of Chittagong Hill Tracts Land Dispute Resolution Commission (CHTLDRC) Chairman Justice Khademul Islam Chowdhury as he, what it said, is working in favour of a vested quarter.

In a press release yesterday, Mongal Kumar Chakma, information and publicity secretary of PCJSS, said the present activities of the land commission are illegal and contrary to the peace accord.

It also alleged that the LC chief has received applications from settlers who grabbed lands of the indigenous people. He himself is sorting the applications and fixing the date for hearing on those.

After his appointment on July 2009, Justice Khademul held only one meeting with the members of the commission. But he held a number of meetings with the local administration ignoring the commission's four members, PCJSS said

Though a meeting in Rangamati on October 10 decided to bring about some changes to the Land Commission Act-2001 before resolving land disputes, the LC chief has already issued a letter on December 13, requesting its members to attend the two-days hearings on applications of the affected people on December 27 and 29.

Terming his activities illegal, PCJSS demanded immediate removal of Justice Khademul Islam and postponement of ongoing activities of the commission.

As Justice Khademul is working in favour of a vested quarter, he has no right to continue as chairman of the commission, it said.

The Jana Sanghati urged the government to amend the Land Commission Act in accordance with the proposals of CHT Regional Council, appointment of a new land commission chairmen, cancellation of all decisions taken by Justice Khademul Islam, setting up a land commission office and appointment of necessary officials and staffs to the commission.

3rd meeting of CHT Accord Implementation Committee held in Khagrachari

Source: PCJSS

On 26 December 2010 the 3rd meeting of the CHT Accord Implementation Committee was held at Khagrachari circuit house in Khagrachari district. Presided over by Convenor of the Committee Ms. Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury, members of the Committee Mr. Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, President of PCJSS and Mr. Jatindra Lal Tripura, Chairman of Task Force on Rehabilitation of Returnee Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons attended the meeting. ADC (general) of Khagrachari district was also present in this meeting for secretarial service.

Progress of the implementation of CHT Accord was mainly discussed in the meeting. The issues of execution of CHT Regional Council (CHTRC) Act and Hill District Council (HDC) Acts, transfer of subjects to the HDCs, approval of the Rules of CHTRC and HDCs, withdrawal of temporary camps and de facto military rule Operation Uttoron, resolution of land disputes by amending the contradictory provisions of CHT Land Dispute Resolution Act 2001 as per recommendations of CHTRC, rehabilitation of internally displaced persons and returnee refugees and strengthening Task Force, consideration of services of reinstated service holders during the period of insurgency as qualified service-period, seniority, regularisation of pay-scale, allowances and retirement benefits etc, development of the CHT were discussed and reviewed.

It is learnt that decision was taken to identify and list down the unimplemented issues of the Accord. It was also decided that Mr. Larma and Mr. Tripura with the secretarial support of ADC (general) of Khagrachari district would prepare the list of unimplemented issues and then it would be placed before Prime Minister soon for necessary directions and actions.

The meeting also decided to postpone hearing on land related appeals until the amendment of CHT Land Dispute Resolution Act 2001 as per CHT Accord. It was decided to place the Act for amendment in the parliament's next session.

The meeting was begun around 4.15 pm and continued till 7.30 pm.

It is mentionable that different organisations and groups of indigenous peoples staged demonstrations in Rangamati and Khagrachhari on 26 December 2010 demanding halting of the hearing of the land dispute appeals by the chairman of the Land Commission and removal of the chairman of the Commission immediately. They urged the government to amend the CHT Land Commission law before starting legal procedures for resolving land disputes in the CHT.

It is also worth mentioning that UPDF’s armed terrorists made attack on convoy of Mr. Larma at Khamar Para of Betchari area under Naniarchar upazila in Rangamati district while he was returning Rangamati from Khagrachari district on 27 December 2010 in the morning. The terrorists first fired and then threw brickbats on the convoy. Mr. Larma escaped the attack unhurt. However, a glass of a vehicle was broken.

Hill people resent govt land acquisition move

Source: New Age

Hill people of six mauzas in Khagrachari fear that they might become landless as the forest department has initiated a move to acquire land, including their homesteads.

They expressed their concerns when the Chittagong Hill Tracts Land Dispute Resolution Commission was working on land dispute settlement amid growing commotion among the hill people over continued grabbing of land and forests in the three hill districts � Rangamati, Khagrachari and Bandarban.

The forest department is set to take control over thousands of acres of land declaring reserved forest at Dighinala in Khagrachari. The people said they would be left with no scope to file appeals if the land were acquired by the government.

Bengali settlers in place in the hill districts in the past week took possession of land, especially in market areas and by road stretches.

Incidents of attacks and clashes between the hill people and the Bengali settlers also increased in all the hill districts in recent months over land grabbing, ownership of land and land possession.

Hill people also alleged that some Bengali settlers, directly patronised by the administration, were also grabbing land at Chonrachari, Lemuchari, Paujyachari, Keang Ghat, Jaisen Para and Nunchhari in a few years. In the latest of such attempts, a group of Bengali settlers tried to grab the land of Sunil Kanti Chakma at Lemuchari on December 5, creating tension in the area.

The district administration also barred demonstrations in the area against land grab attempts on the plea of possible deterioration of law and order.

The forest department has asked the Khagrachari deputy commissioner to hand over to the department 12,849 acres of land at Rengkajya, Chota Merung, Bara Merung, Tarabanya, Hajachhara and Chota Hajachhara mauzas at Dighinala to expand the area of reserve forests.

Of the forest land to be handed over, 1,400 acres are at 55 Hazachara mauza, 4,600 acres at 28 Renkajya, 1,750 acres at 29 Chhota Merung, 3,999 acres at 30 Bara Merung, 500 acres at 54 Tarabanya, and 600 acres at 55 Hazachhara mauzas.

Hill people say their homes and livelihoods will be jeopardised if the district administrations of Rangamati, Khagrachhari, and Bandarban hand over the land to forest department.

In a letter on October 12, divisional forest officer (jhum control) in Rangamati, ABM Abdul Barik, requested the deputy commissioner, Anis-ul Haque Bhuiyan, to hand over the forest land.

In 1992, the then BNP government declared a total of 6.85 lakh acres of land in three hill districts reserved forest areas.

The leaders of hill people said the move would make landless at least 40,000 hill people who were rehabilitated there after their land had been submerged by Kaptai Lake hydroelectric dam in the 1960s. Headmen of six maujas and 23 karbaris submitted a memorandum to the deputy commissioner on November 23 to stop the land acquisition move to contain a possible humanitarian catastrophe.

The headmen said the forest department had taken the move without consultations with them although moves for land acquisition in the hills require such consultations.

They also fear that the move was taken to infiltrate Bengali settlers in the name of reserve forest expansion.

Headman Purnakumar Chakma said during the 2007-2008 emergency rule, land was leased out to 218 families of Bengali settlers at Dighinala and the people given the land were only in paper. �The settlements remain in papers only but we fear they would emerge all of a sudden and claim land ownership,� said headman Prantar Chakma.

In similar way, 812 families of the Bengali settlers were given land in the neighbouring Baghaichari that led to attack on small ethnic groups in February 19-20, 2010.

Societypriya Chakma, a resident of Rengkajya, said he suddenly came to know that his father�s homestead and 15 acres of teak orchard had falled in the area the forest department has planned to acquire. �We have no other piece of land. Where will we go if government takes away the land?

The Rangamati circle forest conservator, Shafiul Alam Chowdhury, said there was no fresh move to expand reserve forest area. A move was taken in 1992 and that has been continuing till date and the forest department was yet to receive the land.

“We are writing to deputy commissioners time and again and they keep it pending. The divisional forest officers in my circle also wrote such letters asking the deputy commissioners to hand over the land,” he said.

Abdul Barik ruled out the need for consultation with headmen for land acquisition. “They are not part of civil administration. So we did not talk with them.” But Shafiul said the headmen were part of the administration as they collect revenue.

Anis-ul-Haque said the district administration was examining the land sought by the forest department at Dighinala. The land will be handed over to the forest department after scrutiny, he said.

As for land grab attempts at Lemuchari, Anis said as there were contradictory claims, he suggested that both the parties should move court.

Innocent Jumma villagers attacked by Bengali settlers in Longadu

2 Jummas injured, 12 beaten, 5 houses ransacked

Source: PCJSS

On 21 December 2010, innocent Jumma villagers of Shantinagar of Gulshakhali union under Longadu upazila (sub-district) of Rangamati hill district were attacked by a group of Bengali settlers from nearby Bengali settler areas. In this communal attack, 2 Jummas were injured, 12 were beaten and 5 houses were ransacked.

It is learnt that on that day early in the morning a group of Bengali settlers went to a nearby area belongs to Jumma villager to collect wood and bamboo. The Jumma villagers opposed them to collect wood and bamboo from their land and at a stage Jumma villagers beat one Bengali settler named Md. Imtaz (25) of village- Choumuhani area of Gulshakhali union. However, he could return to his home almost safely. But, soon after coming back home, he rapidly spread the news of the incident and tried to make the Bengali settlers agitated.

Around 12:00 to 1:00 pm a group of Bengali settlers numbering 33-35 equipped with sharp weapons made the communal attack on Jumma area of village- Shantinagar. In the attack, following 12 Jumma villagers were detained and beaten severely by the attackers:

(1) Mr. Dhak Badhi Chakma (25) s/o Dal mohan Chakma of village- Shantinagar;

(2) Mr. Binay Chandra Chakma Maratto (40) s/o Dal Mohan Chakma of village- do;

(3) Mr. Milan Chakma (30) s/o unknown of village- do;

(4) Mr. Ripan Chakm (25) s/o unknown of village- do;

(5) Mr. Samarpan Dewan (20) s/o Banu Dipak Dewan of village- do;

(6) Mr. Karun Chakma (37) s/o unknown of village- do;

(7) Mr. Bawm Chakma (43) s/o unknown of village- do;

(8) Mr. Himel Chakma (18) s/o Bivishon Chakma of village- do;

(9) Mr. Subha Shanti Chakma (23) s/o Bawm Chakma of village- do;

(10) Mr. Palash Chakma (18) s/o Mahendra Chakma of village- do;

(11) Mr. Riten Chakma s/o Rasik Mohan Chakma of village- do;

(12) Mr. Suman Chakma s/o Reboti Mohan Chakma of village- do.

Of the above victims, Mr. Dhak Badhi Chakma (25) and Mr. Binay Chandra Chakma Maratto (40) were injured severely and admitted to Longadu hospital. Besides, in the attack, the Bengali settlers ransacked following 5 houses:

(1) Mr. Barun Kumar Chakma s/o Sonaram Chakma;

(2) Mr. Raj Mohan Chakma s/o unknown;

(3) Mr. Kala Chiji Chakma s/o unknown;

(4) Mr. Bimal Shanti Chakma s/o unknown;

(5) Mr. Binay Chandra Chakma s/o Dal Mohan Chakma.

It is learnt that the following two persons led the whole attack:

(1) Mr. Abu Hanif (45), village- Juba Laxmi Para, member of No. 9 ward of Gulshakhali union council;

(2) Mr. Rufijuddin (40) s/o Khalekh, Member of No. 8 Rahamatpur ward of Gulshakhali union council.

It is learnt that BDR personnel of Raj Nagar camp did not oppose Bengali settlers while settlers were going to attack on Jumma villagers. At a stage, a group of BDR led by Lt. Colonel Habib with Major Aminul of BDR went there and saved the Jumma villagers from being beaten.

Later, an emergency meeting was arranged with the leaders concerned led by Lt. Colonel Habib and UNO. Mr. Sukhamoy Chakma, ex-UP Chairman, Mr. Premlal Chakma, President of Headman Association of Longadu, Mr. Moni Sankar Chakma, President of Juba Samiti of Longadu also attended the meeting on behalf of the Jumma community. In the meeting, the following decisions were made:

(1) A co-ordination meeting will be held on next 23 December 2010 in this regard;

(2) In the meantime, no Bengali person will be allowed to go to Jumma areas and no Jumma person will be allowed to go to Bengali areas without permission of the Zone Headquarter Commander Lt. Colonel Habib.

It is learnt that (1) Md. Abdur Rahim, general secretary of Longadu upazila Awami League, (2) Md. Halim, acting Headman of Gulshakhali mouza (Awami League leader) and (3) Abu Taleb, acting chairman of Gulshakhali union and also BNP leader was the main instigator and conspirator behind this entire communal provocation.

Further tension and gathering to attack

Though, it was a decision to hold a co-ordination meeting on 23 December 2010, the meeting was postponed and again determined to hold on 27 December 2010. In the meantime, on 24 December 2010 in the evening, the Bengali settlers again tried to create tension and make attack on nearby Jumma villagers of Shanti Nagar village. The Bengali settlers even gathered and proceeded towards the Jumma village. Jumma villagers also tried to gather in order to oppose the opponent. In this circumstance, Jumma leaders then informed UNO of the fact and requested to take urgent measure. Then, a group of BDR rushed to the spot and stopped the settlers and made them come back.

New BDR camp set up on Jumma land

Following the communal tension, on 23 December 2010 BDR set up a camp at middle place in between the Bengali settler village and Jumma village and a group of BDR numbering 30-32 of Raj Nagar BDR zone headquarter took their position there. BDR also cleared the bushes around the newly built camp that almost covers 5-6 acres of land. It is mentionable that the camp was set up on land belongs to two Jumma villagers with due records. BDR constructed the camp occupying a BRAC school and 2 houses of Jummas. The owners of the land are as follows:

(1) Santosh Chakma (35) s/o Bhulsing Chakma, village- Gyana Ratan Karbari Para, Shanti Nagar; case number of his land is 953.

(2) Sharat Chandra Chakma (38) s/o Madan Kumar Chakma, village- do; case number of his land is 1485.

(3) Mr. Nabin Kumar Chakma s/o Bhulsing Chakma, village- Gyana Ratan Karbari Para, Shanti Nagar

(4) Mr. Shanti Moni Chakma s/o Remesh Chandra, village- Gyana Ratan Karbari Para, Shanti Nagar, case no. of his land is 821

Jumma’s land grabbed by Bengali settlers

Following the attack, Bengali settlers led by Raju Khalifa (Rajnagar), Ramdan (VDR Nayek) and Alal (Rajnagar) have been trying to grab at least 30 acres of lands belong to 10 Jumma villagers. It is mentionable that Jumma villagers have been cultivating these lands for decades. Jumma villagers put objection to the BDR camp authority and local administration, but no action has been taken so far. If the land grabbing is continued, then 10 villages of 800 families numbering 8,000 Jummas will be uprooted from this area.

The owners of the lands whose lands have being tried to occupy by Bengali settlers-

1. Anil Chakma (25) s/o Maya Ranjan Chakma of Chato Malya

2. Sharat Kumar Chakma (35) s/o Thakur Chakma of Chato Malya

3. Sonadhan Chakma (35) s/o Ekanya Chakma of Chato Malya

4. Birbahu Chakma (45) s/o Indrajoy Chakma of Chato Malya

5. Sushil Kumar Chakma (50) s/o Sidalya Chakma of Chato Malya

6. Anil Chakma (45) s/o Batya Chakma of Chato Malya

7. Shambumoni Chakma (50) s/o late Sida Chakma of Chato Malya

8. Dayal Chakma (40) s/o Surendra Chakma of Chato Malya

9. Sura Lal Chakma (45) s/o Nalini Mohan Chakma of Chato Malya

10. Debendra Chakma (35) s/o Ramani Mohan Chakma of Chato Malya.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bengali settlers tried to grab Jumma’s land in Mahalchari

Source: PCJSS

Bengali settlers tried to grab Jumma’s land in Mahalchari
On 5 December 2010 Bengali settlers constructed houses on the land of Jumma people at Lemuchari under Mahalchari upazila in Khagrachari district.
It is learnt that around 10.00 am on that day more than 100 Bengali settlers started to construct makeshift on the 8 acres of recorded land of Sunil Kumar Chakma s/o late Chandra Kumar Chakm and 3 acres of land of Ripan Talukdar s/o Gyana Talukdar at Lemuchari village under Lamuchari mouza of Mahalchari upazila in Khagrachari district and completed to erect 10 houses by the end of the day. A group of army from Mahalchari zone and Kengalchari sub-zone were present at the spot while Bengalis settlers were erecting the houses on the Jumma’s land.
Protesting against it, Jumma villagers demolished the houses in the morning of 6 December. On the contrary, Bengali settlers gathered there with the intention to attack indigenous Jumma villagers in presence of military forces.
Deputy Commissioner of Khagrachari Anisul Haque Bhuiyan, Acting (in-charge) Mahalchari Upazila Nirbahi officer Rahet Hossain and Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Mahalchari police station Joynal Abedin rushed there today (on 6 December 2010). During the visit of the government officials, in absence of land owner Sunil Kumar Chakma, his son Kerington Chakma was present there and showed title deed of the land. It is mentionable that Sunil Kumar Chakma bought this from Painda Mog who got settlement this land in 1965-66.
However, DC of Khagrachari Md. Anisul Haque accused local Jumma villagers for destruction of Bengali settlers without accusing Bengali settlers for illegal construction of houses on the Jumma’s land.
It is also worth mentioning that Bengali settlers with the support of military forces and local administration occupied hundreds acre of land belongs to Jumma people in Mahalchari areas even after the signing of the CHT Accord in 1997. Very recently, Bengali settlers intensified land grabbing at these areas and as part of this move, they constructed houses on the land of Sunil Kumar Chakma and Ripan Talukdar.
Today (on 6 December 2010) the PCJSS, in a press release, protested against the land grabbing by Bengali settlers and support to them by the military forces and local administration in grabbing Jumma’s land and demanded to remove Bengali settlers from this area.

Indigenous and tribal peoples 15 per cent of the world’s poor-IFAD Rural Poverty Report 2011

Source: Kapaeeng Foundation


Indigenous and tribal peoples and ethnic minorities constitute roughly 5 per cent of the world’s population, but they are 15 per cent of the world’s poor. In Latin America, poverty rates for indigenous peoples are substantially higher than for non-indigenous:

In Asia, for instance, where 70 per cent of the world’s indigenous peoples live, their ancestral territories are often threatened by deforestation and takeover of resources. In many countries, indigenous children and youth face discrimination in access to education – notably in their own languages and based on their cultures – and adults face discrimination in labour markets.

In Paraguay, poverty is almost eight times higher among indigenous peoples, in Panama almost six times higher and in Mexico three times higher. As with rural women, poverty for indigenous peoples is rooted in multiple forms of disadvantage and deprivation.

Virtually everywhere, indigenous peoples suffer from discrimination, violation of their rights (social, political, human and economic) and exclusion (or self-exclusion) from mainstream social, economic and political processes. For indigenous women and youth, there is typically an overlap of these and other forms of deprivation specific to their gender or age groups.

In addition, indigenous peoples in many parts of the world suffer from precarious control over their natural resource base, particularly in the face of commercial interests in, for example, timber exploitation, food or biofuel production or mining on their land.

The disadvantages faced by rural Poverty Report 2011 indigenous populations in Asia come from many sources: topography, limited access to infrastructure and services, low human capital, poor land and very limited access to credit.

While poverty rates have declined substantially over time among indigenous peoples in Asia, a poverty gap persists between indigenous and non-indigenous populations. Other than in China, this gap at best remains unchanged and at worst is widening. This is the case even in countries that have experienced a rapid decline in the incidence of poverty: in Viet Nam, for example, during periods of pro-poor growth during the 1990s and early 2000s, the incidence of poverty among ethnic minority groups only dropped slowly, compared with a rapid decline of poverty among the majority Kinh population.

Many countries, notably in Latin America and Asia, have established policies and institutions to support the rights and capabilities of indigenous peoples.

Several countries have passed legislation and established public programmes to recognize indigenous languages and cultures, develop appropriate educational curricula, enhance indigenous children’s access to schooling in their languages, and improve access to health-care services among indigenous communities. Some countries have legislation recognizing indigenous land rights, although implementation of such legislation can be challenging because of the powerful interest groups that often compete with indigenous peoples in their claims over their ancestral territories.

A number of international donors, including IFAD, have supported indigenous groups in gaining title to land and management of ecosystems.

Some also have policies or strategies for operating in indigenous peoples’ territories, which aim to address multiple forms of deprivation affecting these communities and to strengthen their capabilities – including by leveraging indigenous knowledge, practices and institutions.

IFAD’s policy on engagement with indigenous peoples, for example, focuses particularly on empowering indigenous peoples in rural areas to overcome poverty by building upon their identity and culture. The policy sets out nine principles of engagement – including free, prior and informed consent – that IFAD adheres to in its work with indigenous peoples.

The recent proclamation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has been a landmark event laying out a framework for protecting and strengthening indigenous peoples’ rights and capabilities. However, turning this landmark event into a foundation for progressive change at the national and sub national level is a challenge in many countries.

Jumma people refrain from attending the meeting of Land Commission chairman in Baghaichari and Longadu

Source: PCJSS

On 5 and 6 December 2010 Land Commission chairman Justice (rtd.) Khademul Islam Chowdhury visited Baghaichari and Longadu upazila under Rangamati district respectively and organised opinion-sharing meetings there. However, there was very low participation of indigenous Jumma people in the meetings.
It is reported that in the Longadu meeting held on 6 December, no Jumma was present there. One indigenous woman who is Upazila Officer of Women Division and one head teacher of local high school who went there to collect textbooks for his students were picked-up to attend the meeting. The meeting was basically attended by around 100 Bengali settlers who were settled down in CHT in 80s on Jumma’s land. The Land Commission was created to resolve the land disputes mainly arisen due to forcible occupation of Jumma’s land by the Bengali settlers.
The meeting was held at Longadu upazila rest house with the Longadu Upazila Nirbahi Officer in the chair. In his speech, Khademul Islam Chowdhury said that land disputes will be resolved as per applications that were already submitted to the Commission and every body who did not yet apply can submit their application seeking resolution of land disputes. The land disputes will be resolved as per CHT Regulation of 1900 as CHT Accord stipulates, he said.
On the other, in the Baghaichari meeting held on 5 December at upazila hall, no headman and public representative except Upazila Chairman and two Vice Chairmen attended the meeting, though all the headmen and public representatives under Baghaichari upazila were invited to this meeting. However, widows irrespective of Bengali and Jumma who went to upazila office on that day to collect their widow allowances and Jumma officers and employees were compelled to attend the meeting. Besides, a so-called reformist leader of PCJSS Mr. Sushil Bikash Chakma and a village head named Bishwapriya Chakma were attended the meeting.
It is mentionable that after appointment as Chairman of Land Commission chairman, Justice (rtd.) Khademul Islam Chowdhury started to visit to hill districts and held opinion-sharing meetings with district and upazila level officers during his visit. At a stage, during tour of the three hill districts on 3-5 August 2009, he unilaterally declared to conduct land survey without having discussion with and decision of Land Commission and even violating the provision of CHT Accord. Further, he issued public notice asking affected land owners to lodge application on land disputes with Land Commission. This notice was issued without the decision of the Commission.
With this backdrop, all sections of the citizens including CHT Regional Council and PCJSS and also three circle chiefs protested against the unilateral and controversial activities of Land Commission and also demanded removal of Mr. Chowdhury from post of the Chairmanship. However, despite the huge protest from the all sections of the citizens, Mr. Chowdhury still continues his controversial activities including visit to the hill districts and holding opinion-sharing meeting without holding formal meeting of the Commission.

Friday, December 3, 2010

No scope of differences over CHT accord implementation: Sajeda

Source: The Daily Star News

Deputy leader of the parliament Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury on Thursday said there was no scope of misunderstanding with regard to implementation of Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord.
She was talking to reporters at the inauguration ceremony of Cultural Diversity Festival 2010 at Bangabandhu International Convention Centre.
‘The Chittagong Hill Tracts affairs ministry is working hard. We have already withdrawn army troops from different parts of the hill districts and we are trying to solve the land disputes in the area,’ Sajeda said.
The ceremony was jointly organised by Chittagong Hill Tracts affairs ministry and CHT Development Facilities of United Nations Development Programme.
Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury, also convenor of CHT Accord Implementation Committee, Dipankar Talukder, CHT affairs state minister, Jatindra Lal Tripura lawmaker and chairman of CHT Refugee and IDP Task force and ambassadors and high commissioners of Australia, Canada and Denmark, among others, attended the function.
Speaking on the occasion, Dipankar Talukder urged all to cooperate in implementing the CHT accord.
Jatindra Lal Tripura hoped that within two years, the accord will be fully implementated.
Discussants at the function said that CHT is composed of different ethnic groups with their different languages, religions, culture, customs and ways of life.
About 120 stalls of 62 ethnic minority groups are showcasing their traditional outfits, food, arts and agricultural products at the festival.
The four-day cultural festival 2010 with the theme ‘Unity in Diversity’ has put up exhibition, fair and cultural shows.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mass signature campaign in two more districts

Source: The Daily Star

Jatiya Adivasi Parishad organises a mass signature campaign in front of Dinajpur Press Club yesterday demanding constitutional recognition to the indigenous people. Photo: STAR

Hundreds of people of Dinajpur and Joypurhat districts yesterday took part in a mass signature campaign demanding constitutional recognition of the indigenous community.

The campaign organised by Jatiya Adibashi Parishad, was held in front of Dinajpur Press Club and Abul Kashem Maidan (ground) in Joypurhat.

In Dinajpur, the indigenous people gathered in front of the press club in the morning. Before start of the mass signature campaign a human chain was formed demanding constitutional right of this community.

In Joypurhat, hundreds of people of the district put their signature for constitutional recognition of the indigenous people.

At the rallies, the speakers said positive efforts needed to help the indigenous community. Recognition of indigenous people in the constitution would help improve their lost, they observed.

The community suffer greatly for high rates of unemployment, mindless imprisonment, drug abuse, alcoholism and diseases, all due to sheer negligence, the speakers said.

They urged the prime minister and her government to come to the aid of this disadvantaged community of the country.

The month-long mass signature campaign also started in Chapainawabganj and Thakurgaon on Monday.

Call to empower indigenous women to end discrimination

Source: The Daily Star

Some eminent personalities yesterday stressed the need for initiatives of both government and non-government organisations to empower indigenous women for betterment of their life standard and end discrimination against them.

Indigenous women fall victim to different sorts discriminations and deprivations severely. The government and non-government organisations should work together for their capacity building to end discriminations and improve their life standard, they said.

The remarks were made at a seminar styled “Indigenous women: Issues and challenges” organised by the Indigenous People Development Services (IPDS) at the at the Catholic Bishop's Conference of Bangladesh in the city.

Speaking as the chief guest, HE Dr Stefan Frowein, ambassador and head of the Delegation of the European Commission to Bangladesh, said indigenous women are victims of double discrimination, first for being women and then for coming from ethnic minorities.

The government, civil society, development partners and indigenous and non-indigenous communities should work together to forge effective policies and programmes to eliminate discrimination against women and empower them, he said.

He laid emphasis on necessary financial and political support and dialogue at the policy-making level to address the problems of indigenous communities.

Frowein said the European Union has been the major contributor in addressing the vulnerability of indigenous communities in the country by providing € 16 million funding for the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Development Fund and € 6.6 million for education programmes in CHT.

Criticising the country's political leaders, National Human Rights Commission Chairman Dr Mizanur Rahman said, “No one raises voice when hundreds of indigenous people are evicted from their land and hundreds of tress from the country's forests are cut down.

“But several hartals are called for political purpose when any political leader vacates their residence.”

While featuring different forms of discrimination against indigenous people, he said they never get proper justice despite repeated violation of their basic human rights as they are poor and come from minority communities as discriminatory system is prevailing in the country.

Mizanur added that his commission would place recommendations to authorities concerned to include provision in the constitution recognising indigenous communities.

Presenting the keynote paper, Information Commissioner Dr Sadeka Halim placed some recommendations for empowering indigenous women.

These include reservation of seats for the indigenous women in parliament, introduction of reserved seats in local government bodies and ensuring participation of indigenous women in local and national development.

IPDS President Sanjeeb Drong said according to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, indigenous women are victims of a 5-layer discrimination, firstly for being a woman, secondly for being indigenous, thirdly for being indigenous women, fourthly for being poor and marginalised and finally for being migrated women.

There are around 15 lakh indigenous women in the country, he informed.

Hill Women Federation former president Choitali Tripura, Joyenshahi Adivasi Parisad Chairman Ajoy A Mree and A'chik Michik Association President Sulekha Mrong, among others, were present at the function.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

'Punish killers of Hindu family members'


Chittagong, Nov 19 ( — The national platform of religious minorities have demanded trial of the perpetrators who brutally killed 11 members of a Hindu family by burning them alive seven years ago.

The incident took place at the home of Tejendra Sheel at Sheelpara of Dakkhin Sadhanpur of Banshkhali Upazila on the midnight of Nov 18 in 2003.

Bangladesh Hindu, Buddha, Christian Oikyo Parishad on Friday held a protest rally and a silent procession demanding punishment of those guilty.

Two surviving sons of Tejendra — Bimal Sheel and Nirmal Sheel — were also present at the rally that took place at Andarkilla.

Bimal filed a murder case following the killing.

Speakers at the rally expressed frustration over the delay in holding the trial process as well as the court's decision to grant bail to the accused.

Nirmal on Friday told that police arrested 14 of the 31 accused, who admitted setting fire to the house as part of a plan hatched by BNP leader and Kalipur Union chairman Aminur Rahman Chowdhury.

He said seven of the 14 have recently secured bail and "they are now threatening us."

"We also objected to the final charge sheet which did not include the name of the mastermind Aminur Rahman Chowdhury."

The Criminal Investigation Department has submitted the witnesses' statements after investigation to the public prosecutor.

Nirmal demanded formation of a judicial probe commission, adding, "The present prime minister vowed to bring the culprits to justice but nothing has happened so far despite the fact that seven years have elapsed."

Friday, November 12, 2010

'Mysterious' fire destroyed the palace of Chakma Chief 'within minutes'

Source: The Daily Star News

Remnants of the palace of Chakma Circle Chief Raja Debashish Roy after a mysterious fire ravaged the site in Rangamati town on Wednesday night. Inset, a locker recovered from the fire-damaged rubbles. Photo: STAR

The fire on Wednesday night totally destroyed the palace of Chakma Circle Chief Raja Debasish Roy.

The fire fighters could save nothing as the fire burnt the palace to ashes within half an hour.

A five-member inquiry committee headed by additional deputy magistrate (ADM) Md Nurul Alam Chowdhury, was formed soon after the incident.

The probe body was asked to submit report within three days.

No member of the royal family was present during the fire. Raja Debashis Roy was in Bangkok and his daughter was in Dhaka.

Meanwhile, no staff of Raja Debashis Roy could say from where the fire originated. They could not say the extent of damage. Also nobody could say what precious assets were burnt.

Fire Brigade officials also did not give any report about how much property of the Chakma dynasty was burnt in the fire.

“No staff at Chakma Rajbari could estimate the extent of damage. Only Raja Debashis himself would be able to give exact information about the loss,” Abul Hossian, an official of district fire station told this correspondent.

However, he said that at least half of the valuable royal assets could be saved if a fire boat and two divers were at the fire station.

Subrata Chakma, personal secretary of Raja Debashish also said that he did not know how the fire was originated and what types of properties were burnt and how much loss was caused.

He said some valuable assets including a chair which was used by Queen Kalindi Rani, books, documents and some important papers on 'Raj Punnah' were there when the fire broke out.

The palace almost remain vacant when Raja Debashsis goes out, he added.

“One thing astonished me that the fire engulfed the palace from all directions and burnt it within a few minutes", Bitu Chakma, councilor of Rangamati municipality said.

“We could not identify the reasons behind the fire as nobody could say anything,” Babul Uddin Sarder, officer in-charge (OC) of Kotwali police station, said.

State minister for CHT affairs ministry Dipankar Talukder, Chairman of Rangamati Hill District Council Nikhil Kumar Chakma, Rangamati Region Commander and Rangamati Deputy Commissioner Sourendra Nath Chakrabarty visited the spot yesterday.

Additional police and army were deployed around the palace after the fire.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Restore '72 constitution

Source: The Daily Star

HRCBM leader stressed the need for ensuring secularism in the constitution

Speakers at a discussion yesterday categorically demanded restoration of the '72 constitution to establish a non-communal democratic and repression-free country and protect human rights.

They made the call while speaking at the discussion meeting styled "Characteristics of '72 constitution and necessary and unnecessary amendments" organised by the Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee at the Bilia auditorium in the city yesterday.

Speaking as the chief guest, Law Minister Barrister Shafique Ahmed said the path of returning to the '72 constitution has been widened through the Supreme Court verdict.

Referring to a BNP leader's comment that the Supreme Court does not have the power of constitution amendment and it can be done in the parliament only, the minister said the Supreme Court is the guardian of the constitution. So, it is not necessary to go to parliament in this regard after the verdict.

“We will republish the constitution as per the Supreme Court verdict that dropped out some provisions of the constitution. After republishing, we will take it to the parliament for further opinions,” Shafique added.

About cancellation of registration of religion-based political parties, the minister stated that after republishing the constitution, the Election Commission (EC) will scrutinise that ideology of any political parties whether that may conflict with the constitution or not. If conflict arises, the EC will certainly cancel registering.

“All the political parties must have consistency in their ideologies with the constitution,” he said.

Speaking as the special guest, noted jurist Barrister Amir-ul Islam suggested reforming the caretaker government system saying, “There should be permanent ombudsmen comprising of retired bureaucrats of different ministries to appoint the chief adviser and other advisers of caretaker government.”

The practise of appointing advisers from the judiciary is jeopardising both the institutions---judiciary and caretaker government, he said.

Barrister Islam suggested inclusion a provision that will declare the process of taking state power unconstitutionally as sedition.

Necessary provisions should be included that will mention punishment of sedition and crime against humanity, he said.

Prof Ajoy Roy, president of Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities, stressed the need for ensuring secularism in the constitution to establish non-communal Bangladesh.

Presiding over the function, Justice Gholam Rabbani, president of the Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee, demanded necessary amendments in the constitution to recognise the indigenous people.

The committee coordinator Shahriar Kabir viewed that the fundamentalist groups will surely wiped out if the '72 constitution restored.

He demanded state declaration of November 4 as the National Constitution Day and laid emphasised preserving rights of franchise of eunuchs in the constriction.

Committee Vice President Shamoli Nasreen moderated the function while Dr Shahdeen Malik and Tureen Afroz of the Law Department of Brac University also spoke.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Muslims in Bangladesh beat, deprive Christians of work

Source: Christian Today

LOS ANGELES – Muslim villagers last month beat a 63-year-old Christian convert and his youngest son because they refused to return to Islam, the father told Compass.

The next day, another Christian in a nearby village was beaten and robbed in related violence in southwestern Bangladesh.

Aynal Haque, 63, a volunteer for Christian organization Way of Life Trust, told Compass that his brothers and relatives along with Muslim villagers beat him and his son, 22-year-old Lal Miah, on Oct. 9 when they refused to recant Christianity. The family lives at Sadhu Hati Panta Para village in Jhenaidah district, some 250 kilometers (155 miles) southwest of the capital city, Dhaka. It is in the jurisdiction of Sadar police station.

Haque’s relatives and villagers said that he had become Christian by eating pork and by disrespecting the Quran, he said.

“I embraced Christianity by my own will and understanding, but I have due respect for other religions,” Haque said. “How can I be a righteous man by disrespecting other religions? Whatever rumors the villagers are spreading are false.”

At a meeting to which Haque was summoned on Oct. 9, about 500 men and women from several villages gathered, including local and Maoist party leaders.

“They tried to force me and my son to admit that we had eaten pork and trampled on the Quran to become Christian,” Haque said. “They tried to force us to be apologetic for our blunder of accepting Christianity and also tried to compel us to go back to Islam. I told them, ‘While there is breath left in our bodies, we will not reject Christianity.’

“When we denied their allegation and demand, they beat us severely. They ordered us not to mix with other Muslim villagers. They confined us in our house for five days.”

Haque has worked on his neighbors’ land for survival to supplement the meager income he earns selling seeds in local markets, but the villagers have now refused to give him work, he said.

“Every day I earn around 50 taka to 100 taka [70 cents to US$1.40] from the seed business,” he said. “Some days I cannot earn any money. So, I need to work villagers’ land for extra money to maintain my family.”

His youngest son also worked in neighbors’ fields as a day-laborer, besides attending school.

“We cannot live if we do not get farming work on other people’s land,” Haque said.

Haque, his wife and youngest son received Christ three years ago, and since then they have faced harassment and threats from Muslim neighbors. His other grown son and two daughters, as well as a son-in-law, also follow Christ but have yet to be baptized. There are around 25 people in his village who came to Christ under Haque’s influence; most of them remain low-profile to avoid harassment from the villagers, he said.

The weekly worship service in Haque’s shanty house has been hampered as some have been too fearful to attend, and the 25 members of the church fear the consequences of continuing to meet, Haque said.

Officials of Way of Life Trust tried to visit the area to investigate the beating of Haque and his son but were unable due to security risks, said Jatish Biswas, the organization’s executive director. They informed the district police chief, who instantly sent forces to provide safety for the Christians, Biswas said.

Villagers thought that if they were able to get Haque to renounce Christianity, then the other Christians would quickly return to Islam, according to Biswas.

Hearing of the incident in Sadhu Hati Panta Para the next day (Oct. 10), Muslims in Kola village about five kilometers (nearly three miles) away beat a Christian friend of Haque’s and robbed his seed shop.

Tokkel Ali, 40, an evangelist in one of the house churches that Way of Life Trust has established, told Compass that around 20 people arrived at his shop at about 11 a.m. and told him to go with them to Haque’s house.

“The presence of so many people, most of whom I did not know, and the way they were talking, seemed ominous to me, and I refused to go with them,” Ali said. “I said, ‘If he wants me to go to his house, he could call me on my mobile.’”

One person in the crowd pointed toward Ali, saying that he was a Christian and had made otherwise innocent people Christians by them feeding pork and letting them disrespect the Quran, said Ali. Islam strictly prohibits eating pork.

“That rumor spread like wildfire among other Muslims,” Ali said. “All of a sudden, a huge crowd overran me and started beating me, throwing my seeds here and there.”

Ali said he lost consciousness, and someone took him to a nearby three-storey house. When he came to, he scrambled back to his shop to find his seeds scattered, and 24,580 taka (US$342) for buying seed had been stolen, along with his bicycle.

Accustomed to earning just enough each day to survive, Ali said it would be impossible for him to recover and rebuild his business. He had received loans of 20,000 taka (US$278) from Grameen Bank (Nobel Peach Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus’ micro-finance entity), 15,000 taka (US$209) from the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee and 11,000 taka (US$153) from Way of Life Trust to establish the business. Ali ran a similar seed business in Dakbangla market in Kola village.

“How can I pay back a weekly installment of 1,150 taka [US$160] to the micro-credit lending NGOs [Non-Governmental Organizations]?” he said. “I have already become delinquent in paying back some installments after the looting of my money and shop. I’ve ended up in deep debt, which has become a noose around my neck.”

Ali said he has not dared filed any charges.

“If I file any case or complain against them, they will kill me, as this area is very dangerous because of the Maoists,” he said, referring to a banned group of armed rebels with whom the villagers have links. “Even the local administration and the law enforcement agencies are afraid of them.”

Ali has planted 25 house churches under Way of Life Trust serving 144 people in weekly worship. Baptized in 2007, he has been following Christ for more than 10 years.

“Whenever I go to bazaar, people fling insults at me about that beating,” he said. “Everyone says that nothing would have happened if I had not accepted Christianity, an abhorrent religion to them. People also say that I should hang myself with a rope for renouncing Islam.”

Since the beating, he has become an alien in his own village, he said.

“Whatever insinuation and rumors they spout against me and other believers, there is no language to squash it,” he said. “I have to remain tight-lipped, otherwise they will kill me.”

He can no longer cross the land of one of his neighbors in order to bathe in a nearby river, he said.

“After that incident, my neighbor warned me not to go through his land,” he said. “Now I take a bath in my home from an old and dysfunctional tube-well. My neighbors say, ‘Christians are the enemy of Muslims, so don’t go through my land.’ It seems that I am nobody in this village.”

Biswas of Way of Life Trust told Compass that Christians in remote villages lack the freedoms guaranteed in the Bangladeshi constitution to practice their faith without any interference.

“Where is religious liberty for Haque and Ali?” Biswas said. “Like them, many Christians in remote villages are in the throes of persecution, though our constitution enshrined full liberty for religious minorities.”

Way of Life Trust has aided in the establishment of some 500 house churches in Bangladesh, which is nearly 90 percent Muslim. Hinduism is the second largest religion at 9.2 percent of the 153.5 million people, and Buddhists and Christians make up less than 1 percent of the population.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

HC issues directives to stop stalking

Source: The Daily Star News

The High Court on Tuesday directed the inspector general of police to take immediate steps to arrest all stalkers on charge of harassing girls and women in public and work places.

It also ordered deputy commissioners across the country to remain on high alert over the incidents of stalking.

A division bench comprising Justice Md Imman Ali and Justice Obaidul Hasan passed the order following a writ petition by Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association.

Advocate Shahina Nasrin, a Supreme Court lawyer and a leader of the association, filed the writ petition with the HC on Monday in the backdrop of the persistent incidents of stalking across the country.

The judges directed the home secretary and the IGP to take steps for the protection of the victims of stalking.

They also ordered the police to take legal actions against perpetrators and stalkers.

The court asked the law secretary to consult with other high officials concerned for formulating guidelines and a policy to address the problem.

It also directed the government to turn in a report within a month on steps it will take to implement the directives.

December 6 has been set for further hearing on the issue.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Girl takes her life on kidnap

Source: The Daily Star News

Rajshahi stabber held; writ petition filed for guideline against stalking

L-R: Sushil Shil and Nabibur Rahman

Just six days after Chanpa Rani Bhowmik had been fatally run over by two bike riding stalkers of her daughters in Faridpur, a thirteen-year-old girl committed suicide yesterday after her male stalker kidnapped and confined her in a room in Sirajganj.

Meanwhile, police yesterday arrested a stalker of a woman from Rajshahi, who is accused in a case for stabbing his victim's husband, son, and a relative in Naogaon.

A Faridpur court, the same day, placed stalker Debashish Saha Rony on a three-day remand in connection with the murder of Chanpa Rani, whose twin daughters Hira and Mukta were his targets.

Against the backdrop of an alarming rise in stalking of women by unruly men in the country recently, Bangladesh National Women Lawyers' Association (BNWLA) filed a public interest writ petition with the High Court yesterday, seeking direction for the government to formulate a policy and guidelines for protection of women and girls from stalking.

Petitioner Fahima Nasrin, a BNWLA leader, said under the existing law the highest punishment for stalking is three-year imprisonment, which seems inadequate as a deterrent in the face of increasing instances of the crime. The HC will hear the petition today, she added.

Yesterday's victim Rupali Rani of Bogra bordering Sirajganj, who was a student of class IX at Simabari SR Girls' School, hanged herself from a ceiling beam around 8:30am after stalker Sushil Shil, 18, kidnapped her and kept her confined in a room of his residence in Sirajganj.

Sushil kidnapped Rani around 6:30am on her way to a coaching centre in Sirajganj. He also forcefully put vermilion on her forehead to imply that she was married to him according to the Hindu custom.

Discovering Rani's body hanging from the ceiling, Sushil tried to flee the area, but local residents caught him and handed him over to police, said Amirul Islam, officer-in-charge of Raiganj Police Station.

Locals said Shushil had been harassing Rani with unwelcome advances on her way to and from school and the coaching centre over the last few months.

Rani's brother Kanak Kumar filed a case with Raiganj police in connection with his sister's death.

In another incident, police yesterday arrested stalker of a woman, Nabibur Rahman alias Luku, 35, from Rajshahi, who on Saturday had stabbed his stalking victim's husband Abdul Hannan, her son, and one of her relatives in Khash-Naogaon area of Naogaon.

Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid yesterday visited the residence of murdered Natore College teacher Mizanur Rahman in Chawk Laxmipur village under Charghat upazila of Rajshahi, and also Abdul Hannan and his son in Rajshahi Medical College Hospital.

Mizannur died in a hospital of the capital on October 24, after being severely injured from an attack by two stalkers of women, for protesting against their harassment of college girls.

HC direction sought to prevent females from stalking

Source: The Daily Star News

The High Court was requested on Monday to direct the government to formulate guidelines and a policy for the protection of women and girls from stalking on their way to and from educational institutions and other public places.

Filing the writ petition as public interest litigation, Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association also sought directions upon the government to take immediate steps for enactment of a proper legislation to address the problem.

Advocate Fahima Nasrin, a lawyer of the country’s apex court and a leader of the group, filed the petition. She told The Daily Star that the HC will hear the petition on Tuesday.

She said the highest punishment for stalking is three years’ imprisonment as per the existing law.

The jail term should be enhanced since the incidents of stalking are taking place on regular basis.

Yet another minority girl falls victim to stalking

Source: The Daily Star News

Tari Rani (middle), mother of Sirajganj stalking victim Rupali Rani, cries out loud on Monday after hearing the news of her daughter’s death. (Inset) Rupali Rani. Photo: STAR

A 13-year-old girl on Monday committed suicide in Raiganj upazila of Sirajganj in the house of a stalker who had abducted and confined her for hours, police said.

Stalker Sushil Shil, 18, of Nijhuri village in the upazila was arrested.

Victim Rupali Rani, a class nine student of Simabari SR Girl's School, was on her way to a coaching centre in Sirajganj just crossing the boundary of Bogra district at around 6:30am.

Sushil waylaid her and forcibly took her to his house. He also forced her to wear vermilion on her head--- implying that she was married under the Hindu law, our Bogra correspondent reports quoting Sherpur Police Station Officer-in-Charge Amirul Islam.

When Rupali protested the incident, Sushil confined her to a room, prompting her to commit suicide at around 8:30am, the OC added.

At one stage, Sushil discovered her hanging body and tried to flee the area. But soon the villagers caught him and handed him over to Raipur Police Station, Raipur police chief Samsul Haque told our Sirajganj correspondent.

Locals from both the districts informed the correspondents that Sushil had been harassing Rupali for the last few months.

The body of Rupali, the daughter of Sunil Bayati of Khalisabari village in Sherpur Upazila of Bogra, was kept in Sirajganj Sadar Hospital morgue.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hill people still victim of land grabbing: Larma

Source: The Daily Star News

Santu Larma

Chief of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity (PCJSS) Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma yesterday said Bangla speaking people from the plain land are still grabbing the lands of jummo (indigenous) people in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) under the shelter of a vested interest group.

Security personnel are maintaining dominance over the hilly areas in the name of peacekeeping while the people of CHT region are passing their days amidst insecurity, the PCJSS leader, who is popularly known as Santu Larma, said at 'freshers' reception' on the campus of Rangamati Government College.

He was addressing as chief guest at the event organised by the college unit of Pahari Chhatra Parishad (PCP), a student front of PCJSS, in the morning.

Referring to the government's decision to set up a university of science and technology and a medical college in Rangamati, Larma, also chairman of CHT Regional Council, said new problems will be created in CHT if those institutions are set up without considering whether CHT people want them.

"Many indigenous people were evicted due to the creation of Kaptai Dam. They lost their arable land and homesteads. The jummo people do not want to lose their lands any more," said the former guerrilla leader.

"During the 39 years of independence, we have failed to establish a progressive and democratic government in the country. And so, crime and corruption has grabbed the country and human right is being violated everywhere," he lamented.

Blaming the government for politicising all the three hill district councils in CHT, he said nowadays the poor people have hardly any scope to get help or assistance as the ruling party men are enjoying all the facilities from the organisations.

Suggesting the students to acquire knowledge from the outside environment alongside academic education to become worthy citizen, Larma called upon them to come forward for full implementation of the CHT deal.

Chaired by Dhiresh Chakma, a student and president of PCP Rangamati College unit, the function was also addressed, among others, by civil society leader Prakriti Ranjan Chakma, former PCP central president Udoyan Tripura, its central committee general secretary Sunirmol Dewan and district secretary Nitol Chakma.

Later, a band show programme was held at the college campus.

Generating awareness on minority rights with a play

Source: The Daily Star News

The play and performances aim to generate awareness and disseminate information among the mainstream communities about indigenous people and dalit groups.Photo: STAR

“Handi Kutum”, a play that aims to generate awareness on the rights of indigenous people and dalit, was staged at different villages under Sadar and Pirgonj upazila of Thakurgaon last Tuesday and Wednesday.

On Tuesday the play was staged at Matrigaon and Kaharpara villages under Sadar upazila. On Wednesday Bashmonipara and Azlabad villages witnessed the play.

Artistes of a cultural team, consisting of indigenous people, under the project 'Promotion of Rights for Indigenous And Dalits Improvement Programme' (PRODIP) staged the play.

Eco Social Development Organisation (ESDO) organised the programmes in association with HEKS Bangladesh with a view to develop awareness among the indigenous people and dalits about their rights.

The programme also aims to generate awareness and disseminate information among the mainstream communities about indigenous people and dalit groups, so that they can live harmoniously and uphold their traditions.

The play also addressed different social issues, including women's rights, necessity of education, health care, evils of drug abuse and early marriage.

The cast of the play included Chaina Ram Tirki, Rani Kujur, Kanchan Singh, Maggi Toppo, Rana Kujur, Ekka, Shuren Toppo and Shanchoy Miniz. Mohammad Shahin coordinated the play.

Earlier discussions were held at these venues where General Secretary of Pirgonj Upazila Adibashi Unnayan Forum, Dandu Mormu and human rights activists Mominur Rahaman Bishal, Mohammad Shahin, among others, spoke.

Bangladesh Hindu Buddha Christian Oikya Parishad leaders call on PM

Source: The New Nation

A delegation of Bangladesh Hindu Buddha Christian Oikya Parishad on Sunday called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the latter's office here.

The delegation members apprised the Prime Minister of various problems of the parishad, said Prime Minister's Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad after the meeting.

During the meeting, Sheikh Hasina gave them a patient hearing and assured them to look into the matters.

President of the Parishad Maj. Gen. (Retd) C R Dutta, Bir Uttam, led the delegation which was comprised of its General Secretary Rana Das Gupta, leaders of the parisad Adv Subrata Chowdhury, Shiril Sikder, Nirmal Chatterjee, Babul Devnath and Barrister Biplab Barua.

Among others, Secretary to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) Molla Waheeduzzaman and Prime Minister's Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad were present.

Later, another delegation of Bangladesh Buddha Christi Pracher Sangha, led by its President Sudhananda Mohathero, called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her office.

During the meeting, they invited the Prime Minister to attend the Lord Buddha statue installation ceremony at Kamalapur Buddha Bihar in the capital on February 23 next.

Sheikh Hasina accepted the invitation to attend the function. Mentioned that Thailand is sending the statue of the Lord Buddha to the Buddhist community in Bangladesh.

General Secretary of the organization Dr Pranab Barua, among others, were in the delegation.

Secretary to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) Molla Waheeduzzaman, Prime Minister's Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad and PM's Private Secretary Nazrul Islam Khan were present.

BJP bats for Bangla Hindus

Source: The Telegraph

Guwahati, Oct. 30: The Assam BJP took up the cause of displaced Bangladeshi Hindus at a daylong meeting held here today. It requested the government not to brand them as illegal migrants.

Though the party is against influx from Bangladesh, it classifies migrant Hindus as refugees. State BJP president Ranjit Dutta said the BJP's stand is that any Hindu who crossedover to Assam from Bangladesh is a refugee as they are victims of religious and political persecution. “We will oppose any move to brand such displaced Hindus living in Assam as illegal migrants,” he said.

Several senior state BJP leaders, including Kabindra Purkayastha and Rajen Gohain attended the meeting.

The BJP’s selective stand on the issue could snowball into a crisis since All Assam Students Union, Asom Gana Parishad — with which the party had an election tie-up— and other like-minded organisations are demanding deportation of illegal migrants as per Assam Accord irrespective of their religion or the language they speak._The BJP leaders who spoke at meeting held at Bishnu Nirmala Trust Auditorium at Latasil recalled that soon after independence, the Union government has assured unconditional citizenship to Hindus, who migrated to India (from Pakistan, including present Bangladesh) after Partition.

BJP MP from Guwahati Bijoya Chakraborty said that Hindus who have migrated to Assam from Bangladesh due to persecution should be considered as refugees as their condition is no different from those who migrated to India from West Pakistan after partition.

Several senior state BJP leaders, including Kabindra Purkayastha, Rajen Gohain and Mission Ranjan Das, among others also attended the meeting.


BCL men vandalise Ramna temple, 3 held

Source: The Daily Star News

A group of Bangladesh Chhatra League activists vandalise two idols at Ramna Kali Mandir in the capital on Sunday over taking control of the shops. Photo: STAR

A group of Bangladesh Chhatra League activists vandalised two idols and several shops at Ramna Kali Mandir in the capital on Sunday over taking control of the shops.

Police arrested three activists of the BCL, the ruling party backed student organisation, from the spot and produced them before a Dhaka court.

Rezaul Karim, officer-in-charge of Shahbagh Police Station, said some 70 to 80 BCL activists of Utpal Shah group from Jagannath Hall, a Dhaka University dormitory specialised for the students from Hindu and Buddhist communities, vandalised two shops and the heads of two idols inside the temple around 12:30am.

Hearing the incidents, Shahbagh police rushed in and arrested Ananato Bhowmic, a first-year student of Sankskrita department, and Prakash, a master’s student of the same department, and Rimon Biswas, a second year student of Institute of Social Welfare and Research at the university.

Campus sources said activists of Utpal Shaha group vandalised the shops run by BCL central committee leader Hemonta Bepari and his friend Bipul for taking control of the shops there.

The police officer said Utpal group launched the attack following a conflict between him and Pankaj over getting posts in the temple maintaining committee, setting up the shops there and spreading unilateral hegemony in the temple area ahead of Kali Puja.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Ensure Dalit's rights in constitution: Demand speakers

Source: The Daily Star News

Speakers at a press conference yesterday demanded inclusion of a special provision in the constitution to ensure social security, citizen's rights and human dignity of the Dalit community.

They said Dalits are considered as the isolated community in the country and are victims of immense discrimination due to the absence of such a provision.

The provision is needed to ensure an end to all sorts of prejudice, they added.

The press conference was jointly organised by the Bangladesh Dalit and Excluded Rights Movement (BDERM) and Nagorik Uddyog at the Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU).

Addressing the press conference, Justice Gholam Rabbani stressed the need for inclusion of a special rule in the code of procedure to punish people behaving in a discriminatory manner with Dalit communities.

Rabbani suggested introduction of the rule with the provision of awarding 6 months to 3 years imprisonment to anyone putting impediments to Dalits from receiving education, treatment and other fundamental rights.

Reading out a written statement, BDERM President Mukul Sikder categorically demanded an end to social discrimination on grounds of caste and professions.

BDERM General Secretary Bodhanaki Shalomon said the Dalits are falling far behind in development because of social discrimination and deprivation.

Inclusion of the special provision and formulation of a necessary law is very essential to protect the just rights of Dalits, he added.

Their other demands include a constitutional declaration terming social discrimination against Dalits as a crime and to ensure equal opportunity for them in different government, non-government and autonomous institutions.

Nagorik Uddyog Chief Executive Jakir Hossain and Dalit Nari Forum President Moni Rani Das were present at the press conference.

Hindu priest killed in clash

Source: The Daily Star News

A Hindu priest was killed during a clash between the management committee of Shonai Kali Temple and its rival group at Nashibganj Bazar in Pirganj upazila on Thursday evening.

The deceased was identified as Shashi Mohan Barman, 70, priest of the temple.

Officer-in-Charge Abdul Hamid of Pirgonj Police Station said Shubhendranath Barman, vice-president of the temple management committee and son of the priest, went to Nashibgonj Bazar to collect contributions for upcoming Kali Puja.

A rival group of the committee led by Shontosh and his three accomplices came to the bazar and engaged in an altercation with Shubhendranath.

Shashi arrived at the spot just as the two groups started fighting and at one stage he was hit with a stick, leaving him dead on the spot.

On information, police recovered the body from the spot and sent it to the district sadar hospital yesterday for autopsy.

Shubhendranath filed a murder case with the police station yesterday accusing four people including Shontosh.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bike-riding stalker kills a mother

Source: The daily star

The mother (middle) of these four daughters paid dearly with her life for protesting stalking. Photo: Rezaul Karim

A motorbike-riding stalker ran over and killed a mother for protesting his harassing her two daughters in Madhukhali upazila here on Tuesday.

Deceased Chanpa Rani Bhowmik, 45, an employee of Faridpur Sugar Mill and wife of Swapan Biswas, was run over by Rony Saha, son of Ratan Saha of the upazila, police and relatives of the victim said.

Chanpa's killing came just three days after the sad demise of a Natore college teacher, Mizanur Rashid, who was similarly killed by stalkers riding on a bike on October 12.

Soma, one of her daughters, said Rony, aged about 21, ran her mother down near their house around 4:45pm when she came up to the road to see off some guests.

She succumbed to her injuries at Faridpur Medical College Hospital around 6:00pm.

The death of Chanpa Rani once again exposes the vulnerability of those protesting harassment of women.

Arun Kumar Bhowmik, Chanpa's brother, filed a murder case with Madhukhali Police Station in this connection yesterday. The case statement said Rony had been stalking and harassing his twin nieces -- Hira and Mukta -- for the last one year.

Faridpur Superintendent of Police Awlad Ali Fakir said the case was recorded as a murder case, since Rony ran over Chanpa.

Police, however, have yet to arrest the culprit, as he has gone into hiding. His stepmother told The Daily Star that he has not returned home since the incident.

Rony's father Ratan Saha, a liquor trader at west Garakhola in Modhukhali, is also hiding, locals said.

Faridpur Sugar Mill High School headmaster Shahid Hasan Md Atikul Haque said Hira and Mukta, candidates of the upcoming SSC examination, are very meritorious students. A few months ago Chanpa told him that Rony had been stalking her twin daughters and waylaying them with his bike.

Konok Hasan Masud, convener of an anti-stalking committee of the school, said Rony threatened Chanpa and her husband Swapan Biswas to pick up Hira to teach them a good lesson for their complaints and protest against him.

Swapan said Rony also threatened over the phone to kill him a few days ago.

Meanwhile, workers and employees of Faridpur Sugar Mill and students of Faridpur Sugar Mill High School blocked the Dhaka-Khulna highway for nearly half an hour protesting the death and demanding punishment of the “killer”.

They also demonstrated in front of the Madhukhali Upazila Parishad and formed a human chain in front of the sugar mill.

Workers and employees of the mill have threatened to go on a strike if Rony is not arrested within 24 hours.

Stalking of women has taken a turn for the worse with a growing number of people being killed for trying to resist the menace.

In last nine months, at least 25 women killed themselves to escape the horror of abuse, while nine males lost their lives for standing up against stalkers, says a report of rights group Ain O Salish Kendra.

During the same period, a father committed suicide, unable to withstand watching her daughter being humiliated.

Failure of the state and the society to protect women from stalking has led many young girls and, in some cases, parents to commit suicide.