Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Army camp grabs 20 acres, evicts 3 families in Harinathpara

No. 162/2008, October 28, 2008

Three Jumma families have been displaced in Harinathpara under Golabari Union of Khagrachari district after an army camp was built there in April 2007.

The camp was relocated from Jadurampara in Kamalchari to Jonglitila situated in the middle of two villages Harinathpara and Guamahat. The army ousted three Jumma families who had been living there for many years and forcibly occupied about 20 acres of land belonging to six Jummas, including those evicted.

The soldiers also destroyed their orchards and fruit threes, and cut down bamboos and other valuable trees like teak and Gamar.

The displaced have been identified as Karunamoy Chakma, aged 55, s/o Nagor Chakma, Shantimoy Chakma, aged 35, s/o Chiringya Chakma and Charu Bikash Chakma, aged 35, s/o Shobhadhan Chakma.

Karunamoy Chakma told chtnews.com that after returning from refugee camp in Tripura, India in 1997, his family had settled there with permission from the local headman, Aungkyoching Chowdhury. He had grown different kinds of fruit trees such as jackfruit, mango, litchi, orange and plum, and planted bamboo, teak and Gamar tree.

He said until he was evicted in 2007, his family had been living there without any trouble and hindrance. "I had 5 acres of land there. Now the army is using it as a helipad." he said.

Now he has built a house on a piece of land belonging to Satish Chandra Chakma in the same village.

He said "I appealed to the CO. He said 'since you are returnee refugee we will give you money' (as compensation). I don't know the CO's name. He said the land belonged to the government. I went to him couple of times. At one stage, he called me names and said 'you bustard! You will smile the other side of your face, you know, if I have you lathi-charged (caned).' Finally, I gave up on it, and asked for seven days for the house to be dismantled and shifted. He gave me five days. Now I have become completely landless, not even owning an inch of land. I have got three sons and three daughters."

Like him, Charu Bikash Chakma was also forcibly ousted from his land. His family has now moved to Akkoychara Adam, about one and a half miles from Harinathpara village.

Those interviewed said the land on which the main camp-house has been built belongs to Charu Bikash Chakma and his father. They had two houses there, but they were destroyed.

Shantimoy Chakma alleged that the army has occupied 5 acres of third class hilly land belonging to him. He had been in the possession of the land for the last 35 years.

In an interview with the chtnews.com on 10 September 2008, Mr. Chakma said "I grew teak, Gamar and banana plantation there. About one and a half months ago, an army officer from the newly built Jonglitila camp called me and said that all my land was now under the control of the army camp. He virtually told me that his camp belonged all the land that he 'surveyed in all directions'. Ten to 12 days ago, the army got the settlers to clear the area. I had some 2nd class land within these 5 acres, and I used to grow vegetables there; but I am not being allowed to do that in this season."

Satish Chandra Chakma, aged 55, s/o Nishi Kumar Chakma had two acres of third class hilly land and 15 decimal of second class land. He and his family had been living there for 50 years. Apart from bamboo, they had also grown teak, Gamar, coconut, jackfruit, orange and lemon trees. Now the whole land has been occupied by the army.

In an interview he said "I appealed to the Chairman (UP) and the Headman, but noting came out. The army cut down the trees, and then trucks load of wood logs were supplied to the Zone, but we had to watch it helplessly. When we tried to protest, they threatened us."

His brother Tarun Kanti Chakma's (36) 3 acres of land has also been occupied. "The army cut down about 100 banana trees and 50 pieces of Bajjey bamboo. I had over 100 teak and Gamar trees, which were 12 to 14 years old. Now they don't allow me to sell them away. Everything has gone." Mr. Chakma alleged.

Asked if he lodged any protest or sought redress, he said "From whom shall I seek justice? The army said 'you can go anywhere, even to our higher authority, to lodge a complaint, but we need this area.'"

A few days ago, his wife was taking a banana bunch from their orchard. But when the soldiers objected, she, out of anger and grief, cut it to pieces in front of the army men and walked away.

The army also grabbed about 2 acres of land belonging to Nayan Chakma, 35, s/o Joy Dharat Chakma. He had grown about 500 pieces of teak trees. He said "the army cut down the teak trees and built their camp with these trees. Some of logs from these trees are still kept in the camp. My land is situated to the west of the main camp."

Asked if he lodged a protest, Nayana said "What could we have done! They just came and cut down the trees in a swift manner. We asked for compensation but they refused to pay, and said all our lands would be put under the control of the camp. We were forced to break down our houses. Now I built my house anew near the old one. They (army) are kept silent about it, but I don't know how long we would be allowed to live here. A few days ago, Major Rabbi told us not to plant anything or to make fire in our own land."