Feb 12, 2016

Chittagong Hill Tracts: Plight of Refugee Returnees

Photo Courtesy of The Financial Express

Many Chittagong Hill Tract (CHT) refugees remain deprived of their paternal lands and free rationing benefits due to a lack of coordination and execution by both the national government and the land commission. 


Below is an article published by The Financial Express:


CHITTAGONG, Feb 10: Over 56,000 refugees of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) who returned from Tripura of India  18 years back are yet to get their paternal lands back and free rationing benefits as refugees due to lack of coordination among the government agencies concerned.

There are specific government instructions that the hill people numbering 56,854 from 14,467 families would either be rehabilitated or get all government assistance as refugee returnees as they had returned home from refugee camps from across the border following the call of the government after the CHT Peace Treaty [was] signed in December 1997.

Sources in the Task Force for the rehabilitation of the returnee refugees said these people have been suffering from extreme poverty since they had returned from exile. They were supposed to be rehabilitated at the villages in the Khagrachhari hill district of the CHT.

These hill people took shelter in different refugee camps of the bordering Tripura state of India in the aftermath of clashes with the settlers in 1986. As they were living in distress and faced crisis due to shortage of food and other utilities in the Tripura refugee camps, they returned home after the peace treaty.

The returnee refugees were supplied with free rationing from the government for the first six months, but were not included in the 20-point package agreement between the government and the refugees. Some 370 refugee families, however, were included in the agreement and got their lands back, sources said.

Under the package, those families were rehabilitated at five unions of Dighinala upazila under Khagrachhari hill district.

On the other hand, the deprived refugees submitted a memorandum to the government and staged demonstrations and formed human chains in the year 2013 following which the Task Force chairman, Jatindra Lal Tripura, forwarded recommendations to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) vide memo no 2041 on November 19, 2013.

The plight of the refugees was discussed at a meeting of the Task Force on CHT (Chittagong Hill Tracts) Refugee Rehabilitation at the Chittagong Circuit House conference hall on Monday last  (1 February).

With the Task Force chairman Jatindra Lal Tripura in the chair, the meeting was attended by Chittagong divisional commissioner Ruhul Amin, joint secretary of the CHT Affairs Ministry Manik Lal Banik, additional divisional commissioner of Chittagong Syeda Sarwar Jahan, Deputy Commissioners (DCs) of Bandarban, Rangamati and Khagrachhari hill districts Dilip Kumar Banik, Shamsul Arefin and Md Wahiduzzaman respectively and chairmen of the Bandarban, Rangamati and Khagrachhari Zila Parishads Ka Se Hla, Brishaketu Chakma and Kongjuri Chowdhury respectively.

Jatindra Lal Chakma said the returnee refugees have all documents as refugees but they are deprived of the government rehabilitation process due to lack of coordination and execution of the land commission.