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Jumma people refrain from attending the meeting of Land Commission chairman in Baghaichari and Longadu
On 5 and 6 December 2010 Land Commission chairman Justice (rtd.) Khademul Islam Chowdhury visited Baghaichari and Longadu upazila under Rangamati district respectively and organised opinion-sharing meetings there. However, there was very low participation of indigenous Jumma people in the meetings.
It is reported that in the Longadu meeting held on 6 December, no Jumma was present there. One indigenous woman who is Upazila Officer of Women Division and one head teacher of local high school who went there to collect textbooks for his students were picked-up to attend the meeting. The meeting was basically attended by around 100 Bengali settlers who were settled down in CHT in 80s on Jumma’s land. The Land Commission was created to resolve the land disputes mainly arisen due to forcible occupation of Jumma’s land by the Bengali settlers.
The meeting was held at Longadu upazila rest house with the Longadu Upazila Nirbahi Officer in the chair. In his speech, Khademul Islam Chowdhury said that land disputes will be resolved as per applications that were already submitted to the Commission and every body who did not yet apply can submit their application seeking resolution of land disputes. The land disputes will be resolved as per CHT Regulation of 1900 as CHT Accord stipulates, he said.
On the other, in the Baghaichari meeting held on 5 December at upazila hall, no headman and public representative except Upazila Chairman and two Vice Chairmen attended the meeting, though all the headmen and public representatives under Baghaichari upazila were invited to this meeting. However, widows irrespective of Bengali and Jumma who went to upazila office on that day to collect their widow allowances and Jumma officers and employees were compelled to attend the meeting. Besides, a so-called reformist leader of PCJSS Mr. Sushil Bikash Chakma and a village head named Bishwapriya Chakma were attended the meeting.
It is mentionable that after appointment as Chairman of Land Commission chairman, Justice (rtd.) Khademul Islam Chowdhury started to visit to hill districts and held opinion-sharing meetings with district and upazila level officers during his visit. At a stage, during tour of the three hill districts on 3-5 August 2009, he unilaterally declared to conduct land survey without having discussion with and decision of Land Commission and even violating the provision of CHT Accord. Further, he issued public notice asking affected land owners to lodge application on land disputes with Land Commission. This notice was issued without the decision of the Commission.
With this backdrop, all sections of the citizens including CHT Regional Council and PCJSS and also three circle chiefs protested against the unilateral and controversial activities of Land Commission and also demanded removal of Mr. Chowdhury from post of the Chairmanship. However, despite the huge protest from the all sections of the citizens, Mr. Chowdhury still continues his controversial activities including visit to the hill districts and holding opinion-sharing meeting without holding formal meeting of the Commission.