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Land grab takes serious turn in Maischari

Hill Watch Human Rights Forum
NEWS No. 49/2007, November 04, 2007

While a detailed report on recent land grabbing in Maischari under Khagrachari district is yet to come, Hill Watch Human Rights Forum has been informed that illegal plain settlers are making attempts to capture about 100 acres of hilly land belonging to the Jumma people in the village of Karallyachari Bhitor Para.

A Democratic Youth Forum leader said, today, 4 November, at about 8 – 9 a.m. two groups of settlers – one from Kiang-ghat led by Mobarok (50) and Majid (50) and another from Nunchari led by Lebu (45) – went to Karallyachari Bhitor Para to take illegal possession of the land.

“They were armed with dao (a kind of knife), axe and sticks” said the DYF leader who is now investigating the current land grabbing problem in the area. He requested that his name is not mentioned in this report, because he believes his identification might create unnecessary problems in getting his job done properly.

“Resist if you can”
The settlers cut jungle for construction of houses and grass for their cattle as if the land belongs to them.

Each of the groups comprised of 20 persons. The group led by Mobarok and Majid came from Kiang-ghat and the other from Nunchari.

When the head of the village Mr. Nikhil Karbari (35) protested, the settlers paid no heed to him. Rather, Mobarok threatened him with dire consequences and said in an arrogant manner, “we will come back tomorrow; resist if you can”.

The owners
Today’s incident is the latest in a series of moves by the illegal settlers to grab Jumma’s lands in different parts of Maischari. According reports, since August this year, hundreds of acres of lands have already been taken away by force. The army is providing full support to the settlers and in most cases it has been actually involved in the planning and execution of the new land-grabs.

The problem of land grabbing is particularly acute in Dadkuppya, Bhuiochari, Lemuchari, Kiang-ghat, Bodanala and Nunchari, the DYF leader said.

The land the settlers nibbled at today comprises of about 100 acres and is owned by some individual Jummas. For example, Mr. Ananda Chakma (50), head master of Ugudochari Primari School, has four acres along with teak trees; Mr. Biro Bal Chakma (47) s/o Goyasur Chakma 10 acres and Mr. Nikhil Karbari (35) one acre.

All of them have valid documents pertaining to their lands.

Conspiracy to incite riots?
After the protest, the settlers went back, but propagated that two of their fellows were missing. The Jummas smelt rat and feared that the settlers were trying to make false pretexts for launching a communal riot and attacking Jumma villages.

The DYF leader said “obviously the rumour has been spread to incite the masses of the settlers and whip up communal tension and anti-Jumma hatred. This is reminiscent of the 3 April 2006 settler attack in Maischari”.

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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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