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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Remove justice Khadem as land comission chief: PCJSS

The Daily Star, 26 December 2010
Remove justice Khadem as land comission chief: PCJSS
Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity (PCJSS) yesterday demanded removal of Chittagong Hill Tracts Land Dispute Resolution Commission (CHTLDRC) Chairman Justice Khademul Islam Chowdhury as he, what it said, is working in favour of a vested quarter.
In a press release yesterday, Mongal Kumar Chakma, information and publicity secretary of PCJSS, said the present activities of the land commission are illegal and contrary to the peace accord.
It also alleged that the LC chief has received applications from settlers who grabbed lands of the indigenous people. He himself is sorting the applications and fixing the date for hearing on those.
After his appointment on July 2009, Justice Khademul held only one meeting with the members of the commission. But he held a number of meetings with the local administration ignoring the commission's four members, PCJSS said
Though a meeting in Rangamati on October 10 decided to bring about some changes to the Land Commission Act-2001 before resolving land disputes, the LC chief has already issued a letter on December 13, requesting its members to attend the two-days hearings on applications of the affected people on December 27 and 29.
Terming his activities illegal, PCJSS demanded immediate removal of Justice Khademul Islam and postponement of ongoing activities of the commission.
As Justice Khademul is working in favour of a vested quarter, he has no right to continue as chairman of the commission, it said.
The Jana Sanghati urged the government to amend the Land Commission Act in accordance with the proposals of CHT Regional Council, appointment of a new land commission chairmen, cancellation of all decisions taken by Justice Khademul Islam, setting up a land commission office and appointment of necessary officials and staffs to the commission.
New Age, 26 December 2010
CHT land commission begins, hearing Monday amid protests
The Chittagong Hill Tracts Land Dispute Resolution Commission starts on Monday hearing appeals submitted with the commission amid widespread protests by hill people and organisations, demanding removal of the commission chair.
The deputy leader of the parliament, Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury, is scheduled to inaugurate the hearing session on Sunday and the formal sessions will be held on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Before the hearing by the commission formed in 2009 begins, a number of hill civic bodies and political parties have expressed their no confidence in the commission chair, retired Supreme Court judge Khademul Islam Chowdhury, and called for his removal accusing him of making all the decisions unilaterally, ignoring others on the commission.
The Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti, which signed the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord with the government in 1997 ending insurgency that had continued for decades, rejected on Sunday the move for the hearing without amending 23 sections of the 2001 act relating to the commission which go against the 1997 treaty.
The party, which said such a hearing would be ‘totally unacceptable’ to the hill people, demanded removal of the incumbent chair of the commission.
The PCJSS and other regional political parties accused the commission chair of unilaterally accepting appeals for hearing from the settler Bengalis, who triggered disputes by grabbing the land of the hill people.
The United People’s Democratic Front said the land disputes in the hill districts could not be resolved under the present commission act as it invests the chairman with absolute authority to decide everything without taking majority opinions into account.
The party said the law had not clearly defined the phrases such as ‘existing laws,’ ‘tradition,’ ‘rules’ and ‘circular’ which would trigger controversy in dispute resolution.
It also called for incorporating the headmen and headmen’s deputies, known as karbaris, in the commission, barring the Bengali settlers who had encroached on the land of the hill people from filing appeals with the commission, cancelling the illegal settlements and leases issued to the Bengalis since the rule of Ziaur Rahman and carrying out a cadastral survey only after resolving all disputes.
The breakaway PCJSS faction, known as Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti (MN Larma), saw the move for hearing under the present law as nothing but ‘stubbornness.’
The government should amend the law to the expectations of the hill people and resolve the disputes to restore peace, the party said.
The commission chair told New Age that the hill people’s leaders had demanded amendment to the law and only the government could do it. ‘It is time consuming and till then the disputes will be resolved under the present law, which is adequate enough to resolve such disputes.’
Khademul expected that the commission members would attend the hearing and resolve the disputes. ‘We have completed all preparations and I do not think there will be any problem.’
As for demand for his removal, Khademul said it was not fair. ‘It is up to the government… They [the hill people’s leaders] have no right or authority to make such a demand without attending the commission meetings. Mr Larma attended only a single meeting out of the nine meetings.’
‘I ask them to attend the meetings and speak everything at the meeting and not to talk about it outside the commission. It will show us ways to reach solution,’ he said.
‘People are making such comments the moment we are about to settle the disputes only to make it controversial. A certain quarter is also fanning such remarks,’ he said.
Different organisations in Khagrachari will also go out on demonstrations against the hearing on Monday.
The Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti (MN Larma), Parbatya Jumma Sharanarthi Kalyan Samiti, Khagrachari District Headmen’s Association, Khagrachari District Karbaris’ Association, Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, Parbatya Chattagram Bhumi O Bana Sangrakshan Committee and the Chittagong Hill Tracts Citizens Committee will form human chains in Khagrachari.
Leaders of seven civic bodies of the hilly region in a statement on Saturday called on the land commission members to boycott Khademul Islam.
The organisations said the people who would extend cooperation to the controversial chairman of the land commission would be treated as ‘enemies of the people’ and they would be boycotted socially.
The Chittagong Hill Tracts Citizens’ Committee president Gautam Dewan, Khagrachari District Headmen’s Association president Shaktipada Tripura, Parbatya Jumma Sharanarthi Kalyan Samiti general secretary Santoshita Chakma, CHT Headmen’s Network president Ranglai Mro, Kapaeeng Foundation vice-president Dipayan Khisha and Khagrachari District Karbaris’ Association general secretary Ronik Tripura signed the statement.





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Kapaeeng Foundation
(An Human Rights Organization for Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh)
Shalma Garden, House # 23/25, Road # 4, Block # B, PC Culture Housing, Mohammadpur, Dhaka-1207, Telephone: +880-2-8190801
E-mail: kapaeeng.foundation@gmail.com, kapaeeng.watch@gmail.com

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