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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Badiul Alam gang files writ petition against cancellation of land leases to the High Court and continues to land grabbing and eviction of Jumma villagers in Alikadam

Source: Kapaeeng Foundation

Recently on 13 March 2014, on behalf of none leaseholders, Mohammad Badiul Alam gang filed a writ petition to the High Court seeking direction upon the government authorities to reinstate the land leases which were cancelled due to fail fulfil the terms and conditions of the lease agreement.

It is mentionable that in early January 1996, on behalf of the Government of Bangladesh, the then Deputy Commissioner of Bandarban district Md. Mohi Uddin leased out in total 200 acres of land in Bandarban Hill District to a number of outsiders most of whom were renowned industrialists in the country on certain terms and conditions. The allotment of the leases was given for rubber plantation and afforestation including the plantation of various fruit bearing trees and wood trees for the period of 40 years.

Although somehow Government has taken steps against the lessees and cancelled some of leases on grounds of violation of the terms and conditions, three of them holding the lease case no. 209(D)/R/95-96, lease case no. 216(D)/R/95-96 and lease case no. 215(D)/R/5-96, have been discharged from the allegation recently. On 14 September 2009, the Deputy Commissioner of Bandarban, on behalf of the government, issued notices upon the lessees cancelling the lease agreement stating that the lessees have violated the terms and conditions of the lease agreement, as such, said lease agreement is liable to be cancelled.

Following the cancellations of these leases, on 13 March 2014, on behalf of following nine leaseholders, Mohammad Badiul Alam son of Alhaj M. A Rashid, his wife Mrs. Suraiya Alam and his son Md. Shahzadul Alam, all of House 2, Road 2, Block-B, Section-10, Mirpur, Dhaka filed the writ petition (petition no. 1482/2014) under the Article of 102 of the Constitution of Bangladesh to the High Court division of the Supreme Court. The nine leaseholders were:
  1. Zaki Ahad, son of Nur-Al-Ahad, House 5, Block-29/A, Pallabi, Dhaka;
  2. Zia Ahad, son of Nur-Al-Ahad, House 5, Block-29/A, Pallabi, Dhaka;
  3. Fahima Ahad, wife of Zaki Ahad, House 5, Block-29/A, Pallabi, Dhaka;
  4. H J Ahad, wife of Nur-Al-Ahad, House 5, Block-29/A, Pallabi, Dhaka;
  5. Murad Mohammad Taj, son of Hazrat Shah Sufi Taj Islam, of Bishura Darbar Amantola, Khanka Sharif, Mirsharai, Chittagong;
  6. Popy, daughter of Sirajuddin Ahmed Chowdhury, of 42/ Ka, Mohamamdpur, PC Culture and Housing Society, Mohamamadpur, Dhaka;
  7. Hosner Jahan Ahad, wife of Nur-Al-Ahad of House 5, Block-29/A, Pallabi, Dhaka;
  8. Lamiya Ahad, wife of Zaki Ahad of House 5, Block-29/A, Pallabi, Dhaka;
  9. Rayeed, son of Zakia Ahad of 42/Ka, Mohammadpur, PC Culture Housing Society, Mohammadpur, Shyamoli, Dhaka.
The writ petition was filed against the seven respondents, such as, Secretary of Land Ministry, Secretary of CHT Affairs Ministry, Divisional Commissioner of Chittagong Division, Deputy Commissioner of Bandarban hill district, Upazila Nirbahi Officer of Alikadam upazila under Bandarban district, Assistant Commissioner (Land) of Alikadam upazila and Headman of 291 Toinfa Mouza of Alikadam upazila. It is worth mentioning that Mohammad Badiul Alam gang tactfully did not mention the name of Bandarban Hill District Council and CHT Regional Council, the main institution of administration and development in CHT, to avoid strong opposition from these authorities.

As the respondents did not oppose strongly against the writ petition, the High Court issued a stay order of cancellation of leases until and unless the Court issued final verdict. Following the stay order, the leaseholders are freely making plantations on the respective lands and threatening the indigenous Jumma villagers to leave the localities.

On 9 June 2014 K M Tarikul Islam, Deputy Commissioner of Bandarban hill district sent a para reply to the writ petition to the Solicitor Wing of Writ Branch of Supreme Court. Deputy Commission mentioned in his reply that the statements made in paragraph No.6 of the writ petition in respect of General Power of attorney sworn in by the leasees in favour of petitioners with a proposal of sub-lease to the petitioners are not acceptable as not consistent with the terms of lease mentioned in the lease deed. It is submitted that no where the leasee is authorised as per concluded prescribed lease deed u/r 34 ( I ) (f) to empower a specified person to act for and in the name of the lease executing power of attorney further it is detrimental to the Government Policy to encourage real and appropriate zealous ambitious entrepreneurs directly to come forward in taking risk and opportunity working practically in the rubber plantation or other plantation on commercial basis. Handing down impliedly to sub-leasee without prior permission of the Deputy Commissioner is clear violation of term 12(a) and term 18 of the lease deed for which lease is subjected to cancellation.

In his reply, Deputy Commissioner also mentioned that petitioners has no right to get any remedy form this Hon'ble bench. It is submitted that section 19 of the CHT Regulation 1900 is very clear with regard to Jurisdiction "Except as provided in this regulation or in any other enactment for the time being in force a decision passed, act done, or order made under this regulation or rules there under, shall not be called in question in any civil or criminal Court." That in view of the above provisions of law the petitioners application is not maintainable.

Leaseholders hire Badiul Alam gang to grab more lands and look after plantations

The following seven leaseholders who are leaders of ruling Awami League engaged Badiul Alam in lieu of handsome amount of money to look after the plantations of leasing lands and to grab more lands belonging to indigenous Jumma and permanent Bengali resident. The seven leaseholders were:
  1. Advocate Syed Rezaul Rahman, Advisor of central committee of Awami League and Prosecutor of International Court on, lease plot no. 12 of Toinfa mouza of Alikadam upazila;
  2. Professor Mamtaz Begum, MP and Chairman of Jatiya Mohila Sangstha (National Women Committee), plot no. 13 of Toinfa mouza of Alikadam upazila;
  3. Syed Rizia Begum, lease plot no. 14 of Toinfa mouza of Alikadam upazila;
  4. Ahmed Kabir, plot no. 15 of Toinfa mouza of Alikadam upazila;
  5. Raihan Ara, plot no. 16 of Toinfa mouza of Alikadam upazila;
  6. Shahjahan Mukul, plot no. 17 of Toinfa mouza of Alikadam upazila;
  7. Brigadier Morsed Alam, plot no. of Toinfa mouza of Alikadam upazila.
Badiul Alam and his gang have created a reign of terror at Toinfa mouza of Alikadam upazila of Bandarban district. Hundreds of acres of land of indigenous Jummas and some local Bengalis have already been grabbed by this influential land-grabbing band. Badiul Alam gang has been grabbing the ancestral lands of indigenous Jummas of this area adjacent to Alikadam-Thanchi road for last four years. The lands include land for shifting cultivation of indigenous Jummas.

According to the local people, Md. Badiul Alam is a resident of Comilla district headquarters and he lives in Dhaka who is a very influential person. He had acquaintance with former Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) of Alikadam Mohammad Asaduzzaman. When he came to Alikadam from Dhaka by riding Pajero car he used to live and eat in his home. In several programmes, he adorns the chair of the chief guest. He has locally formed a cadre group by hiring some desperate people comprising both Bengali and indigenous people. His terrorist group regularly threatens local innocent permanent Bengali and indigenous peoples. The Badiul Alam gang has also built a few mile long roads for their expediency. In the farm house of Badiul Alam daily 15-20 people regularly work. According to the local people, Md. Badiul Alam regularly threatens the local Mro, Tripura, Marma and Tanchangya indigenous peoples of filing false charges and of killing.

Cancellation of Land Leases as per CHT Accord

Huge tracts of land were given lease to non-indigenous outsiders in 1980s and 1990s for rubber plantation and other commercial purposes. Around 2000 plots covering 50,000 acres of land have been given lease in three hill districts. The Accord provides that out of the lands allotted to non-tribal and non-local persons for rubber and other plantations, the lease (allocation) in respect of the lands of those who did not undertake any project during the last ten years or did not properly utilize the lands shall be cancelled. During the period of previous government (2009-2013), about 593 plantation plots so far have been cancelled. But to the utter frustration of the CHT people, the Deputy Commissioner of Bandarban district has reinstated most of the plots to the owners.

On the other hand, allotments of land under this category continue unabated by the district authorities. The Deputy Commissioner of the Bandarban district continues to give hundreds of acres of land in lease to the outsider non-tribal Bengali people in violation of the concerned provisions of the CHT Accord.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Civic group concern over the govt’s move to establish a BGB camp in Bandarban by acquiring indigenous people’s farm lands and a crematorium

Source: Kapaeeng Foundation

Civic rights group expressed concern over the government’s move to establish a Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) sector headquarters at Rawangchari upazila in Bandarban by acquiring indigenous Jumma people’s farm lands and a crematorium. They demanded immediate cancellation of establishment of BGB sector Headquarters.

Civic rights group raised the demand in a press conference held on 28th October 2014 at 11:00 am at Reporters Unity in Dhaka. The conference was held after the on-site inquiry of the grabbing of farm land and cremation ground by the BGB for the establishment of BGB sector headquarters in Kraikhyong-Hangsama Para in between Bandarban sadar and Rowangchari upazila in Bandarban district.

Mr. Dipayan Khisha an indigenous rights activist facilitated the conference while eminent columnist and researcher Saiyod Abul Maksud, Trustee of Liberation War Museum Zia Uddin Tarik Ali, associate professor of Mass Communication and Journalism Department of Dhaka University Robayet Ferdous, Human Rights Activist Advocate Nilufar Banu, Film Director Rashed Ryan and Executive Director of Kapaeeng Foundation Pallab Chakma were present among others. Rajib Mir, associate professor of Mass Communication and Journalism Department of Jagannath University read out main script of the press conference on behalf of the visiting team.

Eminent Columnist and researcher Mr. Syed Abul Maksud said that this issue should be raised in the Parliament and the establishment of the BGB sector Headquarter should be suspended until the issue is dissolved. He said this is a violation of the rights of indigenous peoples. The state is not discharging its responsibilities properly. He said that the government should immediately suspend the project.

Mr. Robayet Ferdous said that, militarization in CHT is still prevailing and there are 6 cantonment in 3 hill districts. The State doesn’t consider the indigenous people as its own people. That’s why indigenous peoples’ ancestral land has been grabbed violating the CHT Accord of 1997 and the provisions of CHT Regulation of 1900 and without any discussion with the concerned Circle Chief, Headmen, and Karbaries. There is no freedom of thoughts under military rule. He opined that by any means, the rights of the indigenous people and their lands should be protected.

Mr. Rajib Mir stated in his written statement that, they (BGB) have put up fence in a vast area without any beforehand notification. There is complains that the disadvantage indigenous people have lost almost everything they have to the land grabbers. Recently, the land grabbing for establishing of the BGB sector headquarters in the Khraikhyong-Hangsha Para of Rowangchari upazila it’s a new addition. It’s a questionable act when there is no discussion with the local leaders and the local people. Land grabbing would lead to the fear of eviction of indigenous villagers as well as demographic destruction of the region. He said that livelihoods of at least 300 families would be affected if the farm lands were was acquired for the paramilitary establishment.

The following recommendations have been proposed on behalf of the civic group that have visited the spot recently in the Press Conference:
  1. Grabbing of lands for building BGB sector Headquarter without the recommendation of Bohmang Circle Chief, Mouza Headman is a clear violation of the rules of the traditional land management of Chittagong Hill Tracts.
  2. Steps should be taken for proper discussion of the issue with CHT Regional Council, Bohmang Chief Circle, Mouza Headman, and the local dwellers.
  3. There should be a time frame with road map of the full implementation of the CHT Peace Accord of 1997.
It is mentionable that the local indigenous Marma villagers submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister of the Government of Bangladesh on 29 October 2014 demanding cancellation of land acquisition for BGB camp. They mentioned in the memorandum that Only 450 acres of land are currently available for traditional Jum cultivation for 500 landless families in 11 villages of the mouza. Out of the 7,000 acres of land under the mouza, 4,550 acres had been acquired by the forest department, 1,000 acres are unarable land and 1,000 acres belong to individual owners. At least 2,000 acres of arable land are required for the sustenance of 1,500 families who live in the mouza.

More than a month ago, the home ministry gave its approval to acquire 34 acres of land for building the headquarters along the Bandarban-Rowangchhari road in Bandarban Sadar upazila. Inhabitants of two indigenous Marma villages claimed that the community land, which provided them with a livelihood and a cremation ground, fall within the area earmarked for the headquarters. The area was sealed off with a barbed wire fence by the BGB a month ago.

Please find full press statement of civic rights group in Bangla attached herewith and visit following links for media reports: