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Tension in Sajek over land grabbing

News No. 66/2008, April 20, 2008

There have been reports of mounting tension between Jummas and Bengali settlers in Sajek over construction of illegal Bengali settlements on Jumma’s land.

Last month, the settlers, backed by the army personnel, built 15 houses at Baghaihat Mukh under Sajek Union in Rangamati district after destroying a Buddhist temple and driving out many Jumma villagers. Those who had resisted the settlers’ move were threatened and subjected to intimidation.

“Leave the area, or else we will burn you to death”, Ali (s/o Nawshad Ali), a leader of the settlers, issued threats to Mongol Sadhan Chakma (48).

Ultimately, his house was burnt down on the night of 19 April, resulting in the loss of property amounting to Tk. 90 thousand.

From day one, the Jummas have been actively trying to defend their land and the temple. They appealed to both the army and the settlers not to grab their lands, but to no avail. They even approached the civil administration which refused to take any action against the illegal land grabbers.

While the Jummas were still trying to defend their lands through peaceful means, unidentified arsonists on 17 April burnt down the settler houses.

This provided a pretext for the army and settlers to mount further attack on the Jumma people to grab more land. Panic gripped the Jummas who fled in to the jungle fearing retaliation.

Indeed, the following night the settlers led by Ali and backed by army personnel attacked the Jumma village of Gangaram Mukh and burnt down the house of Mongol Sadhan Chakma (48) s/o Shanka Shur Chakma.

The settlers attempted to launch a second attack on the night of 19 April but it was repulsed. There was chase and counter-chase between the two sides in which the army provided back up support to the settlers.

A source in Rangamati said the Commanding Officer of Baghaihat zone called a meeting between the Jummas and Bengali settlers today. However, he could not say exactly what transpired at the meeting.

Tension is reported to be still prevailing in the area and the Jummas are living in fear and utter uncertainty.

chtnews.com is an independent and voluntary online news service dedicated to projecting and analyzing the current events in the Chittagong Hill Tracts from the perspective of the Jumma people’s struggle for right to self-determination. For further information please contact at: chtnewsonline@gmail.com

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