Bengali settlers try to grab Sadhantila Buddhist Temple in Dighinala with the backing of Bangladesh army
Since 13 August 2007, the Muslim settlers supported by the Bangladesh army personnel and the Bangladesh police had been launching programmes to forcibly capture the The Sadhana Tila Buddhist Temple in Dighinala. The Sadhana Tila Buddhist Temple comprises about 300 acres of land and houses a Buddhist Meditation Center and a sizable indigenous Chakma Buddhist population. The indigenous Chakma Buddhists had been living in these villages from time immemorial. Bangladesh army personnel led by Dighinala Zone Commander, Major Qamrul Hassan ordered the Buddhist monks residing in the Sadhana Tila Buddhist Temple and indigenous peoples living around the Buddhist temple to leave in order to settle over 800 Muslim settlers' families.
As indigenous Chakma Buddhists refused to comply, trucks load of Muslim settlers had been coming to Sadhana Tila and cutting the forest around the Buddhist temple for construction of houses under the protection and command of the Bangladesh army and police personnel. The Sadhana Tila Buddhist temple had been desecrated by the illegal Muslim settlers and is facing destruction. Major Qamrul Hassan the Zone Commander of Dighinala summoned Mr. Sattyendriyo Chakma the headman of Baghaichari Mouza to the zone headquarters. He interrogated and threatened to kill Mr. Chakma if he did not allow the Muslim settlers to capture the Sadhana Tila land.
On 23 August 2007 at about 5 pm, a group of Muslim settlers broke into the temple boundary and began cutting tress and shrubs belonging to the temple. When the Chakma villagers protested, the army and the police falsely accused the Buddhist monks of possessing arms and wanted to search the temple. A violent confrontation between the Chakmas and the Muslim settlers was narrowly prevented after the intervention of Union Council Chairman, Mr Paritosh Chakma.
As the Sadhana Tila became a flashpoint, on 28 August 2007, Chief of Bangladesh Army, General Moeen U Ahmed visited the area. Since then, the situation has only deteriorated.
Since 30 August 2007, the army personnel themselves had been cutting trees around Kamala Bagan School near Sadhana Tila Buddhist temple. They had stepped up patrol to provide protection to the Muslim settlers.
On 1 September 2007 at around 12 noon, a group of settlers led by Mohamed Malek and Chand Mian pulled down the signboard of Sadhana Tila temple and smashed it. They also threatened the Buddhist monks to leave the temple and destroyed a few houses of the indigenous Chakma people at Sadhana Tila.
On 2 September 2007, the Muslim settlers destroyed some of the houses of indigenous Chakma people around Sadhana Tila Buddhist temple.
On 4 September both sides were on the brink of a riot when Mohamed Abbas Mian and his wife began digging the ground inside the temple boundary to erect a house. It was the second time the Muslim settlers tried to build houses in a provocative manner inside the temple enclosure. The Muslim settlers paid no heed when the Buddhist monks prevented them. In the end the monks were compelled to destroy the houses. After that, Abbas Mian and his wife called in reinforcements of his fellow settlers who made attempts to attack the monks and some lay women who had been there for religious duties. The Muslim settlers retreated when they faced resistance put up by the indigenous Chakma villagers.
The Bangladesh Army and police personnel had been actively involved in the land grabbing at Sadhana Tila area. The army authorities had announced an incentive grant of Taka 50,000 for each settler family who will be willing to settle there, in addition to Taka 1,000 as monthly allowance. The army personnel had also threatened to stop free food and rations to those Muslim settlers who do not want to settle in Sadhana Tila area.
Sources:Kapaeeng Foundation (An Human Rights Organization for Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh)
E-mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org