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Santu Larma
Santu Larma former guerilla leader and the Chairman of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti or PCJSS.

Bangladesh government trying to turn CHT into a Muslim dominated region: Santu Larma

Bangladesh Adivasi Forum president Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, popularly known as Santu Larma, on 10 August 2011 said the government was working to turn the Chittagong Hill Tracks into a Muslim-dominated region.

'The present government is pampering the ultra-nationalism and communalism instead of harbouring good culture,' he said.

He was addressing a seminar titled 'Importance of effective Land Commission in enforcing land and rights of the indigenous people' at LGED Bhaban in the capital.

Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission Mizanur Rahman attended the seminar as chief guest while former caretaker government adviser Sultana Kamal as present at special guest.

Addressing the seminar, Santu Larma said a problem was created recently over 'Adivasi', a word which has been dropped from the constitution. 'Dropping the word, now the constitution says all citizens of Bangladesh will be recognised as Bengalis.'

'If Sheikh Hasina is called Chakma, will she accept the identity? There are 54 indigenous groups in the country and they must be recognised in the constitution,' Larma told the seminar.

About the Land Commission, Larma said, 'Present land commissioner Justice Khademul Islam deems himself as a 'great scholar' and his actions manifest as if he is presiding over court sessions. Necessary laws for settling land disputes in the CHT should be formulated in consultation with the CHT regional and district councils.'

He demanded formation of a strong land commission for the CHT and another separate land commission for the country's plain land indigenous people. 'Land, forest and hill are the life for the indigenous people,' he said, adding that no people can live without land.

NHRC chairman Mizanur Rahman said full implementation of the CHT peace treaty was a must at this present context to solve the problems in the hilly region. The indigenous people are the citizens of the country and they both in hilly and plain lands are gradually becoming marginalised, he said.

He emphasised immediate resolution of land disputes of the indigenous people to put an end to all of their problems. 'The organic tea we take is produced with the labour and blood of the indigenous people,' he said.

Information commissioner Sadeka Halim, columnist Syed Abul Muksod and women leader Khushi Kabir addressed the seminar.


New Age, 11 August 2011

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