Terror in CHT
Bengali settlers set ablaze indigenous village in Bandarban
On 18 April 2020, while the perilous coronavirus (COVID-19) reigns over the whole country, Muslim settlers set ablaze more than five thousand rubber plants planted by the indigenous villagers in Bandarban. Muslim settlers were led by Golam Kibria Shamim and Jasim Uddin Montu the proprietors of Sylvan Wye Resort and Spa Ltd. It says that many mango and banana trees have also been burnt to ashes in this incident.
Officer-In-Charge of Bandarban Police station refused to register the case when the victims led by Birendra Tripura of Saingya Tripura Para had met the authority to file a case on last Sunday. The Officer-In-Charge advised the villagers to inform the incident to the Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) of Bandarban district, Mohammad Shahidul Alam. But when the villagers went to the ADC’s office to meet him, they could not meet him as he was not available. On the other hand, while communicated over phone, the villagers were informed that the ADC was busy.
GK Shamim and Jasim Uddin Montu had set the rubber plantation and fruit garden in fire with an aim to evict the indigenous people and occupy their lands and homesteads. Meanwhile, several hundred acres of lands of the local Jumma people have already been grabbed illegally to construct tourist resorts and luxurious hotels by way of intimidating, conspiring and having managed the local ruling party leadership and the people sitting in the administration. As a result, many indigenous Jumma families of this area had to abandon their ancestral lands and homesteads.
Earlier in June 2019, people of GK Shamim and Jasim Uddin Montu, had set fire in the rubber plantations of the indigenous villagers. By then, while the village head of Saingya Tripura, Birendra Tripura had informed the police about the incident, on contrary, the police told the Karbari that a case of illegal trespassing in the company garden had already been filed with the police station against the villagers – Karbari added.
It is of worth mentioning that on 29 January 2019, Jasim Uddin had filed a false case with the Bandarban Police Station alleging against 4 indigenous villagers to have trespassed into their garden. Accordingly, the police held Paincha Thoai Marma, Headman and his son including Surjya Sen Tripura of Saingya Tripura Para under that case.
On 9 June 2019, villagers of several inhabitants submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner of Bandarban Hill District against the Sylvan Wye Resort and Spa Limited alleging forcible occupation of their Jum-cultivation lands, blazing their rubber plantations and harassing by way of filing up fabricated cases. But no action has been taken against the Sylvan Wye Resort and Spa Limited by the administration.
Earlier, in the face of atrocities of state ruling power of GK Shamim and atrocities offered through the Sylvan Wye Resort, the Sangai Marma village had already been evicted. Grabbing of lands belonging to the indigenous people of adjacent area has been being illegally occupied without any remedial measure. Right now, 170 indigenous families of Saingya Tripura Para, Laimee Para and Hatibhanga Para are under threat of eviction. It is learnt that the officials of Sylvan Wye Resort have already illegally occupied 250 acres of lands belonging to the adjacent indigenous villagers.
It has been learnt that GK Shamim and Jasim Uddin Montu began their activity in Bandarban only 3 years back and they selected a site for a five-star hotel. At the very beginning, they had a very slow march in illegal occupation of lands. Firstly, they started with lending money as loan to the indigenous villagers of Saingya Para. When the villagers became incapable of refunding the loan, then they began to evict the villagers and occupy their lands. In this way, it was the Saingya Para – the last indigenous village among the 13 villages to have been evicted by the duo land grabbers.
It has been learnt that even after signing the CHT Accord in 1997, as of this day, lands belonging to at least 30 indigenous Jumma villages have been illegally occupied and the native peoples therein have been evicted in Bandarban district alone. According to the Bandarban Chapter of ‘Movement for the Protection of Forest and Land Rights in CHT’ – an organization working on indigenous forest and land rights affairs, the villages of four Upazilas that have been illegally occupied are: Amtoli Mro Para, Mongbaichar Baching Marma Para; Charigya Tripura Karbari Para, Lulaing Mukh Mro Para and Sunong Mro Para under Lama Upazila; Rangajhiri Chakma Para, Dalujhiri Chakma Para, Badurjhiri Chak Para, Longadu Chak Para, Hamrajhiri Marma Para and Sapmara Jhiri Para under Naikhyongchhari Upazila; Weikling Para under Alikadam Upazila and Saingya Marma Para of Bandarban Sadar Upazila. Saingya Marma Para is the lastest indigenous village to have fallen prey to eviction. The last 6 families of this village were evicted in 2018.
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