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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.