Some 750 indigenous families have been left homeless after an army eviction drive in the remote hilly areas of Bandarban district.Hill district families driven out of their homes have been facing starvation and severe cold for three weeks. >>Read full text of memorandum
bdnews24.com Senior Correspondent
Dhaka, Dec 22 (bdnews24.com) - Some 750 indigenous families have been left homeless after an army eviction drive in the remote hilly areas of Bandarban district.
Hill district families driven out of their homes have been facing starvation and severe cold for three weeks, their leaders said.
An indigenous community leader who did not want to be named told bdnews24.com that many are passing days in starvation or half-fed.
An army spokesman, Lt Col Anisur Rahman Chowdhury, confirmed the eviction drive.
Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council chairman Jyotirindra Bhodipriya Larma told bdnews24.com, "The problem was created long ago when the CHT was militarised."
Larma, popularly known as Santu Larma, said: "Artillery forces have been acquiring more than 11,000 acres of Jumma (hilly) people's land in Bandarban Sadar and Ruma upazilas."
The former guerrilla leader said, "This land acquisition is completely illegal. It's against law, conventions and norms of hill land management."
"Such repressive measures cannot be accepted. I strongly condemn and protest it.
"I also demand proper compensation to and rehabilitation of the evicted Jummas."
Local people said the army conducted a drive in the villages of Bhagyakul, Kadukhola, Sualok and Tongkaboti on December 4, forcing 750 Jumm families from their dwellings. Jumm is indigenous farming on the slopes of hills.
Some Bangalee households along with Mro, Bom and Chakma families were evicted.
The affected people submitted a memorandum to the deputy commissioner ahead of the eviction drive but the eviction was not halted.
The memorandum said the army acquired 11,445 acres of land in 1991-92 at Renikkhong, Sualok and Tongkaboti maujas under Sualok for artillery training grounds. 'Vested quarters' did not give local people advance notice at that time.
The families were given nominal compensation for the 1991-92 evictions. But they were not rehabilitated.
The memorandum appealed to the deputy commissioner not to conduct a second round of evictions.
Lt Col Anis, head of Inter-Service Public Relations, told bdnews24.com: "Illegal settlers on the army training area in Bandarban have been evicted."
"All quarters including the administration are aware of the matter," he said.
The CHT comprising Rangamati, Khagrachhari and Bandarban covers 5,093 square miles, home to about 1.5 million hill people and Bangalees.
Two decades of guerrilla warfare between the army and the guerrilla group Shanti Bahini ended with the signing of a historic peace agreement on December 2, 1997.
Santu Larma, the former chief of the now defunct Shanti Bahini, has repeatedly called attention to what he called 'continued army rule in the hill tracts' resulting from the army's 'Operation Uttaran'.
Photo (c) : Biplob Rahman