Mar 01, 2012

Chittagong Hill Tracts: Land Issue Still Pending

People protested the hearings of the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission, denouncing the lack of representation of the Hill people.

Below is an article published by The Daily Star:

A hearing of the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission in its Khagrachhari district town office yesterday was suspended due to a quorum crisis as the representatives of hill people in the commission were absent.

Only two members, commission chairman Justice (retd) Khademul Islam Chowdhury and Additional Divisional Commissioner Nurul Islam were present yesterday when 43 cases were set to be heard.

Representatives of the hill people in the committee, including CHT Regional Council Chairman Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma alias Santu Larma, Khagrachhari Hill District Council Chairman Kujendra Lal Tripura and Khagrachhari Circle Chief (Mong Raja) Saching Prue Chowdhury were absent at the first day's hearing. The commission is set to sit again today.

Meanwhile, demanding a halt to the hearing proceedings hundreds of hill people formed a human chain under the banner of Elected Jumma Representatives Council in Mohajanpara area of the town at noon.

With ruling party lawmaker Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury in the chair, the CHT Peace Accord Implementation Committee on December 26, 2010 had suspended all activities of the land commission, including hearing of the land dispute cases until the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act, 2001 is amended.

After the suspension of the hearing yesterday, Khademul expressed his dissatisfaction over the non-cooperation of the indigenous representatives. “It is surprising that most of the members of the commission were absent even though they have been availing all sorts of government facilities.”

He said the commission had prepared a total 43 cases from among 3,000 selected cases for hearing yesterday when all the applicants were present in court.

Calling for cooperation from all hill people for a betterment of the CHT people, the land commission chairman said the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act, 2001 was a complete and independent one and that it was enough to resolve the land disputes in the region.

The government is currently working on the law to bring about necessary amendments with a view to resolving the long-standing disputes.

Meanwhile, the co-chairpersons of the CHT Commission in a press statement yesterday sought Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's intervention in halting the alleged unilateral decisions by the land commission chairman to hold hearing on land disputes.

The CHT Commission statement signed by three co-chairpersons of CHT Commission, including Sultana Kamal, alleged that Khademul had unilaterally declared a resumption of the hearing despite the disagreement of the other members.

The statement added such a declaration by the commission was a violation of the provisions of the 1997 CHT Peace Accord as well as the decision of the CHT Peace Accord Implementation Committee.