Last six Marma families evicted
Desk Report: The indigenous communities of Bandarban live on in fear as their ancestral land continues to be grabbed by influential people, reports Daily Star.
Once inhabited by 42 families, the Saingya Marma Para of Bandarban in southeast Bangladesh has been subject to land grabbing for long.
There were a only six families remaining till middle of last year when they began receiving death threats to leave their homes and their government-allocated jhum lands. The last of the inhabitants finally moved out in January, said Paincha Thoai Marma, headman of the affected para. He has currently taken shelter at his father-in-law’s house at Dalu para.
The land and approximately 100 acres of jhum land are now under the control of Jasim Uddin Mantu, chairman of Sylvan Wye Resort and Spa Ltd, he added.
“When we protested, the grabbers lodged a false case with Bandarban Police Station. Later, the police picked up me and my son.”
The other victims include the families of Mong Kya Prue, Ani Mong, Mong Yoi, Mong Ba U and Fow Sha Ching, said the headman. They are now dispersed and have taken shelter in Joutokamar Para, TNT and Bakichhara area, about 12 to15 kilometres away from their homes, he added.
“We are helpless; they forced us to leave our ancestral land. We want our land back.”
According to the Hill District Council Act 1989 and Chittagong Hill Tracts Regulation 1900, no land shall be leased out, settled with, purchased, sold, or transferred without prior approval of the department concerned.
Since the 1997 signing of the Chittagong Hill Tracts peace agreement, around 180 indigenous families have been evicted from their ancestral land in Bandarban, grabbed by Bangalee settlers, private rubber plantation owners and horticulturists, said Jumlian Amlai, president of Parbatya Chattagram Forest and Land Rights Protection Movement, Bandarban Chapter.