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Pablakhali Landgrab
In March 2010 Bangladesh army backed Muslim settlers build makeshift houses on illegally grabbed land of the indigenous Chakma Buddhists. They built the houses on the pretext of rehabilitating Mukti Bahini or freedom fighters of 1971 liberation war.

Bengali settlers construct makeshift houses on the indigenous owned lands at Pablakhali

Muslim settlers in the name of Bangladesh Muktijuddha Punarbasan Society (Bangladesh Freedom Fighters Rehabilitation Society) constructed around five hundred makeshift houses on the indigenous owned lands near Bhangamura army camp at Pablakhali area under Khedarmara union in Rangamati district.

On behalf of Bangladesh Muktijuddha Punarbasan Society, its district president Mohamed Bacchu Mia and district commander Mokhlesur Rahman submitted application to Land Minister and State Minister for CHT Affairs on 5 January 2010 to get settlement of following 3,200 three thousand two hundred acres of lands situated at the following places -

  1. Along the roadsides of Longadu to Naniarchar road;
  2. Along the roadsides of Merung to Maini road
  3. 500 acres of land from Chibe Aga to Kathaltali
  4. 175 acres of land of Amtali and Gulshakhali under Longadu and Baghaichari sub-districts respectively
  5. Pablakhali area.

Settlement, lease, sale and transfer of any land without prior approval of the Hill District Council is illegal. In this connection, the Land Ministry issued circular in 1989 and the MoCHTA in 1998. In addition, since 2003, MoCHTA issued a letter to stop settlement of land in the CHT. In spite of the above circular and letters, on 27 January 2010 Mohamed Motahar Hossain, Additional Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) of Rangamati Hill District issued a letter to the Upazila Nirbahi Officer of Longadu upazila to send inquiry report on the matter of the application.

In the mean time, in September 2009 the Muslim settlers affixed a signboard of Bangladesh Muktijuddha Punarbasan Society occupying reserve forest land of Pablakhali range under Baghaichari upazila. As continuation of this land grabbing, the Muslim settlers occupied grove land and paddy land of indigenous villagers at this area and constructed around 500 makeshifts at Pablakhali in Baghaichari upazila.

Among others, the land of Rupantu Chakma (35), Amar Kanti Chakma (38) and Pritimoy Chakma (42) were forcibly occupied by the Muslim settlers. The indigenous villagers alleged that Muslim settlers destroyed crops of their farmlands. Muslim settlers ordered indigenous villagers to leave the area; otherwise severe consequences would have to be faced. Tension has been prevailing in this area, particularly at Pablakhali. At least six indigenous villagers removed their children and aged to safe area.

It is learnt that all the leaders of the Bangladesh Muktijuddha Punarbasan Society are fake freedom fighters. In order to get sympathy and patronization from the administration as well as government, they themselves claimed as freedom fighter. It is also learnt that Muslim settlers included some Chakmas as freedom fighters though they are also not freedom fighters.

On 12 March 2010 Chairman of Baghaichari upazila Mr. Sudarshan Chakma and Vice Chairman Diptiman Chakma, Upazila Nirbahi (Executive) Officer of Baghaichari upazila Basirul Haque Bhuiyan, Upazila Executive Officer of Langau upazila Khairul Rahman, Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Baghaichari and Longadu police station Nayeem Uddin and Julfikar Mahammad Gajjali, Chairman of Khedarmara and Atarakchara union Sachitra Chakma and Mangal Kanti Chakma visited the spot. No leader of the Bangladesh Muktijuddha Punarbasan Society was present during that time. Those who were present at that time claimed that they are general member of the Society. But they failed to show certificate of freedom fighter. However, they claimed they were relatives of freedom fighters and landless poor.

As they occupied land illegally, the visiting team ordered the Muslim settlers to destroy the makeshift houses and to vacate occupied lands within 15 days. Otherwise, action would be taken against them.

It is important to note here that the settlers occupied the lands with the secret support of the army authority of Bhangamura Army camp and as long as the army continue its support, the settlers would not dismantle the makeshift houses. Rather they may set fire on them so that they can claim relief and rehabilitation.


Sources:

PCJSS (Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti)
E-mail: pcjss.org@gmail.com, pcjss@hotmail.com
Website: pcjss-cht.org

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