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Fresh land grabbing attempt in East Garmaridhala

Hill Watch Human Rights Forum
NEWS No. 67/2007, December 25, 2007

Fresh attempt at grabbing Jumma people’s land has been reported from East Garmaridhala under Dadkuppya Union in Khagrachari district.

The attempt was made on 23 December by a group of illegal plain settlers led by Shamshu (48) s/o Shukkar Ali from Bhuiyochari cluster village. Shamshu had earlier occupied 3 acres of third class land belonging to Mokor Kanti Chakma (32) s/o Punong Chan Chakma in East Gamaridhala village. He and his co-settlers built houses on the occupied land and have been living there since then.

According to sources, in the latest attempt, on the morning of 23 December, the settlers went to grab 2 acres of land belonging to Morotto Chakma (30) s/o late Probir Chakma. The land lies a few hundred yards south of Dadkuppya army camp.

The settlers were armed with dao (a kind of one-edged knife) and stick and began clearing the area for construction of houses.

The local village elders and the owner of the land vehemently objected to the settlers’ illegal action on the spot as well as lodged complaint with the nearby army camp.

In order not to be seen as a party to the said land grabbing attempt, the army reportedly assured them that they would not let the settlers to take the land.

Illegal grabbing in Chittagong Hill Tracts has increased since the state of emergency was imposed in the country in January this year.

Hill Watch Human Rights Forum has investigated the allegations of forcible land occupation in Maischari and its contiguous three Unions in Khagrachari district and found that during the last nine months a total of 399.22 acres of land belonging to 133 Jumma individuals and a primary school in 14 villages under 4 Unions of Mahalchari Thana and Khagrachari Sadar Thana have been forcibly taken away by the illegal plain settlers.

The military is directly responsible for the recent land grabbing in CHT.

As the right of assembly remains suspended under the Emergency Rules proclaimed by the interim caretaker government, the Jummas can offer democratic resistance only on pains of being arrested and charged with anti-state activities.

On the other hand, national human rights organisations have been maintaining complete silence over the issue.

On 9 December, the victims of recent land grabbing held a press conference in Dhaka and urged the government to take immediate action to stop the settlers.

The call seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

Hill Watch Human Rights Forum provides accurate, objective and reliable information on human rights abuses in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. For further details contact: hwhrf_99@yahoo.com or hwhrf.cht@gmail.com

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