Picture (courtesy: PCJSS, CHT): Bengali settlers constructed makeshifts on the Recorded lands of Jumma people at Pablakhali in Baghaichari
Very recently Bengali settlers in the name of Bangladesh Muktijuddha Punarbasan Society (Bangladesh Freedom Fighters Rehabilitation Society) constructed around five hundred makeshifts on the recorded lands of Jumma people near Bhangamura army sub-zone camp at Pablakhali area under Khedarmara union and Amtali union of Baghaichari upazila in Rangamati.
It is also learnt that on behalf of Bangladesh Muktijuddha Punarbasan Society, its district president Md. Bacchu Mia and district commander Mokhlesur Rahman submitted application to Land Minister and State Minister for CHT Affairs on 5 January 2010 to get settlement of following 3,200 three thousand two hundred acres of lands situating at the following places -
(1) Along the roadsides of Longadu to Naniarchar road;
(2) Along the roadsides of Merung to Maini road
(3) 500 acres of land from Chibe Aga to Kathaltali
(4) 175 acres of land of Amtali and Gulshakhali mouzas under Longadu and Baghaichari upazila respectively
(5) Pablakhali area.
It is noted that without prior approval of the concerned Hill District Council (section 64 of its Act) settlement, lease, sale and transfer of any land is restricted. In this connection, the Land Ministry issued circular in 1989 and the MoCHTA in 1998. In addition, since 2003, MoCHTA issued a letter to stop settlement of land in CHT.
In spite of the above circular and letters about and settlement, on 27 January 2010 Md. Motahar Hossain, Additional Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) of Rangamati Hill District issued a letter to the Upazila Nirbahi Officer of Longadu upazila (sub-district) to send inquiry report on the matter of the application.
In the mean time, in September 2009 Bengali settlers affixed a signboard of Bangladesh Muktijuddha Punarbasan Society occupying reserve forest land of Pablakhali range under Baghaichari upazila. As continuation of this land grabbing, Bengali settlers occupied grove land and paddy land of indigenous villagers at this area and constructed around 500 makeshifts at Pablakhali in Baghaichari upazila.
Among others, the land of Rupantu Chakma (35), Amar Kanti Chakma (38) and Pritimoy Chakma (42) were forcibly occupied by Bengali settlers. Jumma villagers alleged that Bengali settlers destroyed crops of their farmlands. Bengali settlers ordered Jumma villagers to leave the area; otherwise severe consequences would have to be faced. Tension is has been prevailing in this area, particularly at Pablakhali area due to threatening of Bengali settlers. At least six Jumma villagers removed their children and aged to safe area.
On the other hand, it is learnt that all the leaders of the Bangladesh Muktijuddha Punarbasan Society are fake freedom fighters. In order to get sympathy and patronization from the administration as well as government, they themselves claimed as freedom fighter. It is also learnt that Bengali settlers included some Chakma as freedom fighter though they are also not freedom fighter.
On 12 March 2010 Chairman of Baghaichari upazila Mr. Sudarshan Chakma and Vice Chairman Diptiman Chakma, Upazila Nirbahi (Executive) Officer of Baghaichari upazila Basirul Haque Bhuiyan, Upazila Executive Officer of Langau upazila Khairul Rahman, Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Baghaichari and Longadu police station Nayeem Uddin and Julfikar Mahammad Gajjali, Chairman of Khedarmara and Atarakchara union Sachitra Chakma and Mangal Kanti Chakma visited the spot. No leader of the Bangladesh Muktijuddha Punarbasan Society was present during that time. Those who were present at that time claimed that they are general member of the Society. But they failed to show certificate of freedom fighter. However, they claimed they were relatives of freedom fighters and landless poor.
As they occupied land illegally, the visiting team ordered the Bengali settlers to destroy the makeshifts and to vacate occupied lands within 15 days. Otherwise, action would be taken against them.
It is important to note here that the settlers occupied the lands with the secret support of the army authority of Bhangamura Army sub-zone camp under Langadu region and unless the army authority stops its patronization, the settlers must not dismantle the makeshifts. Rather they may set fire on them at any moment so that they can caim reief and rehabilitation for the advantage of their permanent settlement there.