Bangladesh army conspires to capture Sadhana Buddhist Temple at Babuchara
Conspiracy to capture 300 acres of land belonging to Sadhana Bana Vihara in Babuchara is still continuing as the army forbid transportation of construction materials into the area. The army suspects that the materials will be used to expand the Buddhist temple.
Forcible grabbing of indigenous people’s land had become rampant after the declaration of a state of emergency in the country in January 2007. Even lands belonging to religious institutions were not spared.
At that time, the army and settlers also made numerous attempts to capture Sadhana Bana Vihara’s land by force. But when the indigenous people of the area put up an organised resistance, they retreated but continued their efforts by changing their strategy.
The settlers filed a number of false cases against the indigenous people, but in the end of the day the indigenous people came out victorious.
On 18 February 2009, two Muslim settlers filed another law suit with the Khagrachari district judge’s court, and the court issued an injunction ordering parties to maintain status quo.
After obtaining the court order, the army imposed an embargo on house building materials such as brick, cement, iron rod, corrugated iron sheet and sand to be carried beyond Babuchara army check post in the direction of Sadhana Bana Vihar area.
This resulted in immense suffering of the common people who are not being able to build new houses or repair old ones before the onset of the rainy season which is not far off.
Mr. Juboraj Chakma, who resides near the office of Babuchara Union Council office, sought to import corrugated iron sheets for the reparation of his house. But the army and Village Defence Party members prevented him from doing so. Like him, many other indigenous people have faced similar experience.
Apart from the embargo, the army regularly checks vehicles carrying indigenous people and holds them back for hours on end, for reasons best known to them.
On 12 March, an ambulance carrying the dead body of an indigenous man was halted at the check post for 4 hours. On the same day, a jeep of a wedding party was also halted and held back for three hours.
But the army never checks or halts the vehicles of the Muslim settlers, alleged an indigenous villager of the area.
Apparently to check out if the court order was being complied with, soldiers from Babuchara sub-zone regularly visit Sadhana Bana Vihara.
On 7 March, they entered the dining hall of the temple with their boots on and showered insults on Ven. Buddha Bongsha Bhikkhu, the chief abbot of the temple. He and other monks were taking their pre-midday meal at the time.
On another occasion, the army ordered the chief priest to remove the bricks, iron rods and other construction materials from the temple area. But the monk told the army point blank that it was not possible.
While there is smouldering resentment against the unlawful embargo imposed by the army, the indigenous people are also showing resilience. "We will no more take such injustices lying down. We will fight the legal battle, and do whatever we can to save Sadhana Bana Vihar." said a villager echoing the general sentiment of his fellow indigenous people in Babuchara.