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Update on Sajek: situation yet to come to normal (Second Part)

chtnews.com
News No. 111/2008, June 18, 2008

Nearly two months have passed since the 20 April Sajek attack that left 77 Jumma houses burnt to the ground, but the situation is yet to come back to normal.

Following is the last of the two-part series of the latest reports received from our sources in the area.

District Council’s Project money used for “peace rally”

On 25 May, Lt. Col. Sajid Md. Imtiaz organised a so-called peace rally in Baghaihat, Sajek. He arranged lunch for about 1,000 individuals and made Sajek Union Council Chairman, L. Thanga pay the cost from the funds he received from Rangamati District Council for public development projects.

Imtiaz ordered the elderly Jummas to attend the rally. But despite that, the participation of the Jummas was almost zero.

The participants gathered at “Egottor Park” in BDR zone area of Marishya where a few speeches were delivered. But many slipped away before a march towards Sajek began. In the end only a few dozens of the participants reached Baghaihat in one bus and two jeeps. In Baghaihat, Lt. Col. Sajid Md. Imtiaz addressed the gathering before the start of the last leg of the so-called “peace procession” that took the participants from Baghaihat to Gongaram.

Later, a discussion meeting was held at Sajek Union Council office with Lt. Col. Sajid Md. Imtiaz, the Baghaihat zone commander, as chief guest and Shibir Bichitra Barua, UNO of Baghaichari Upazila, as special guest. The other participants were Joynal Abedin, chairman, Khagrachari Municipality, Md. Selim Mian, General Secretary, Sama Odhikar Andolan, Baghaichari Unit, Diptiman Chakma, Secretary, JSS Baghaichari Unit and L. Thanga, chairman, Sajek Union Council.

Selim Mian in his speech said: “We must maintain communal harmony at all costs. This is independent Bangladesh. If there are any Indian or Bhutanese agents, I want to warn them: be careful.”

Shibir Bichitra Barua said the problems of the area will not be resolved by such peace rallies. “We must sit together – Paharis and Bengalis – in cordial atmosphere and find out the root causes of the problems.” he said.

Shanti Bikash Chakma, one of the Jumma participants, said “We have not received our lands back as per the peace accord. We came to this Reserve Forest area just to eke out a living. But there is no peace here.”

Local journalists of Khagrachari were present at the discussion, which was followed by a cultural programme.

Only a handful of Jummas were present at the discussion meeting. They are Bipon Babu, Hridoy Ranjan Dewan, Kamini Ranjan Chakma, Shanti Bikash Chakma, Badu Moni Bap, Brisha Moni Chakma, L. Thanga Pankua, Nayan Member and Diptiman Chakma.

The Jummas alleged that on the morning of 25 May military personnel forced Jumma villagers in Hegeye Toli, Champatoli and Nandaram areas to take part in the so-called peace rally.

On the night of 24 May soldiers raided the house of Shanti Jibon Karbari aged 42 in the village of Uluchara and ordered him to participate in the next day’s peace rally taking 30 – 40 people along with him. “Otherwise, you are damned” they warned.

The same day, 24 May, Md. Rafiq from ECB Army reportedly told Din Lal Chakma aged 38 and Amor Shanti Chakma aged 37 from Gongaram Doar village: “Case has been filed against both of you. So, be careful.”

Attempt at land grabbing continues

The settlers continue to make attempts to grab lands in Sajek. Some of the incidents are mentioned below:

On 21 May, Nuru Alam’s father entered the paddy land of Kinadhan Chakma (60) s/o Sen Chakma of Retkaba village and began cutting the ripen paddy. When protested, the settler said that the land belonged to the Forest Department and suggested that he who would cut the paddy first would get it. However, when Kinadhan called out to the nearby people, the settler left the scene.

On 22 May, Siraj, a settler, planted a coconut seedling on the land of Lakxmindra Chakma aged 45 in Purbapara village. The next day Md. Ayesh, his nephew, cut down 18 coconut seedlings which many villagers had seen. Later, Siraj came, saw the cut saplings and called the Jumma villagers names.

On 3 June, Alam aged 30, a settler, planted banana saplings on the land of Niharu Chakma aged 36 in Balughat.

On 4 June, Jamal aged 35 (elephant keeper) and his four labourers planted banana saplings on the land of Kiron Chakma aged 37 s/o Natun Chandra Chakma in Balughat. The same day, Shaha Alam aged 40 planted various kinds of saplings including banana on the land of Pattor Moni Karbari. Another settler named Kamal (known as Lambaya among the Jummas) aged 55 planted Jackfruit and other fruit tree seeds on the land of Lalu Chakma aged 55 in Gongaram Mukh.

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