Chittagong Hill Tracts: Call to Cancel Illegal Leases
The Kapaeeng Foundation demands the cancellation of all illegal leases in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) allotted to non-tribal and non-local persons for rubber and other plantations.
Below is an article published by Kapaeeng Foundation:
On 19 July 2009 Sachetan Nagorik Samaj organised a human chain demanding the cancellation of all illegal leases in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) allotted to non-tribal and non-local persons for rubber and other plantations. Eminent academic Prof Serajul Islam Chowdhury, columnist Syed Abul Maksud, presidium member of Gono Forum Pankaj Bhattachariya, teacher of Dhaka University Shourav Sikder and Robaet Ferdous General Secretary of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum Sanjeeb Drong, Organizing Secretary of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum Shaktipada Tripura, president of Bangladesh Adivasi Chantra Songram Parishad Sohel Hajong spoke at the rally.
They demanded the government cancel all illegal leases in CHT region and bring the land grabbers into book. It also demanded publication of a list of the grabbers who illegally took leases, including Major General (retd) M A Matin. He says, “We are living in the array of injustice in this country. One of the major injustices is done against the indigenous people. We can not do much against the powerful persons. We have to organize a united effort. Otherwise we would fail.” .He also demanded constitutional reorganization of indigenous people.
Abul Moksud termed the leasing as robbery of land. It is unjust that bureaucrats, political leaders and military personals are taking the land of indigenous people on lease, he added. The present government must reveal the list of persons who took the lease, he demanded.
It placed a set of demands at a human chain and a protest rally. The government should take immediate steps to stop land grabbing by punishing the grabbers, they said, adding that formation of a land commission is a must to end land disputes in CHT. Other demands include withdrawal of all temporary army camps and stopping Operation Uttaran, implementing the CHT Accord and providing constitutional recognition to the indigenous people.
Finally, moderator Hiron Mitra Chaskma put forward the demand of civil society including revealing of the list of leaseholder in the CHT; cancellation of all kinds of lease in the CHT; trial of M.A.Matin; recognition of indigenous people in the constitution and implementation of CHT Accord in letter and spirit.
It is mentionable that 1,605 plots of 40,077 acres of lands were leased out to the outsiders by the government in the name of rubber plantation and horticulture in Bandarban district alone. CHT Accord signed in 1997 between Government of Bangladesh and PCJSS provides “Out of the lands allotted to non-tribal and non-local persons for rubber and other plantations, the lease (allocation) in respect of the lands of those who did not undertake any project during the last ten years or did not properly utilize the lands shall be cancelled”.
Accordingly, the Deputy Commissioners of the three hill districts in CHT were ordered to revoke this illegal settlement, lease or transfer of land through a letter no. CHTAM(P-1)/HD/ Miscellaneous/ 85/2000/529 issued by the CHT Affairs Ministry on 14 October 2000. Nevertheless, the process of giving lease and settlement of land to outsiders has not been stopped. This trend still goes on unabated covertly.