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Amendment of CHT Land Commission Act during current session of parliament demanded
On 1 March 2012 Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) regional chapter of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum (BIPF) organised human chain at the headquarters of three hill districts of CHT demanding amendment of the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act 2001 as per CHT Accord during on-going session of the Jatiya Sangsad (Parliament). Removal of Khademul Islam Chowdhury from his chairmanship of CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission (CHTLDRC) for his controversial and illegal works was also demanded in this human chain.
In Rangamati, M N Larma Memorial Foundation and CHT Citizens’ Committee also participated in the human chain formed in front of the office of Rangamati Deputy Commissioner. Presided over by Prakriti Ranjan Chakma, convenor of CHT regional chapter of the BIPF, the human chain was conducted by Bodhi Satta Chakma, member-secretary of CHT regional chapter of the BIPF.
Prakriti Ranjan Chakma expressed his dissatisfaction for non-implementation of CHT Accord even after the passing of 14 years. He urged government of Bangladesh to amend CHT Land Dispute Resolution Act 2001 within on-going session of Jatiya Sangsad as per provisions of the CHT Accord.
General Secretary of Adivasi Samajik Forum Sukumar Dewan said that there is no such instance to delay willfully in implementing the Accord in the world history unlike CHT Accord. However, Prime Minister received UNESCO peace prize for this Accord. The images of the country is being destroyed by non-implementing the Accord, he added. He expressed concern that chairman of CHT Land Commission is continuing work autocratically and his work is completely ill-motivated and pre-planned.
Convenor of CHT Citizens’ Committee Goutam Dewan said that the main objectives in forming the CHT Land Commission is to settle all land disputes including returning back of forcible occupation of returnee Jumma refugees by Bengali settlers. However, chairman of land commission is conducting his work without convening meeting of the Commission and declaring one after another controversial programme including land survey and hearing of land dispute cases which were completely illegal and motivated. He expressed his concern questioning that how Khademul Islam Chowdhury wants to start hearing of land dispute cases without framing rules of business of the Commission as directed in its Act. From where does he get support for this illegal and controversial work? He made question whether he physically was well.
Convenor of M N Larma Memorial Foundation Bijoy Keton Chakma said that government did not keep its words committed in the CHT Accord. Government continued to ignore our demand for implementation of CHT Accord. Huge participation of this human chain proved that demand for amendment of CHT Land Dispute Resolution Act is turned into popular public demand.
Member-Secretary of M N Larma Memorial Foundation Mangal Kumar Chakma expressed his concern saying that government kept pending amendment of CHT Land Dispute Resolution Act year after years though it was decided to amend the Act in several inter-ministerial meetings. He demanded to amend the contradictory provisions of the Land Commission Act within current winter session of the Parliament. He also criticized chairman of Land Commission for his conspiracy to hold hearing of land dispute cases on 28-29 February 2012 without amendment of Land Dispute Resolution Act and demanded to remove him from his chairmanship.
Besides, Uthan Marma of Bangladesh Marma Students Council and Suprava Chakma of CHT Mahila Samity also spoke in the human chain. Jayoti Chakma Inu of CHT Mahila Samity read out the memorandum sent to the Prime Minister.
The human chain was followed by submission of memorandum to the Prime Minister demanding amendment of the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act 2001 as per CHT Accord within on-going session of the Jatiya Sangsad (Parliament) and removal of Khademul Islam Chowdhury from his chairmanship of the Commission (CHTLDRC) for his controversial work. The memorandum was signed by 19 eminent citizens including Prakriti Ranjan Chakma of BIPF, Sukumar Dewan of Adivasi Samajik Forum, Goutam Dewan and Mong Sanoo Chowdhury of CHT Citizens’ Committee, veteran lawyer Jnanendu Bikash Chakma, former member of Rangamati Hill District Council Rati Kanta Tanchangya, retired agriculture officer Kajal Talukdar, former district education officer Anjulika Khisa, former president of Rangamati Bar Association Dinanath Tangchangya, member-secretary of M N Larma Memorial Foundation Mangal Kumar Chakma et al.
In Khagrachari, the human chain was formed at Shapla Chattar with leader of BIPF Chaithowai Marma in the chair. Sadhan Tripura of Tripura Student Forum, Sunenda Marma of Marma Student Council, women rights activist Namita Chakma, Mongse Thui Marma et al spoke in the human chain.
In Bandarban, human chain was formed in front of Bandarban press club. Eminent members of civic group including Zumlian Amlai Bawm of CHT Forest and Land Rights Movement with Juli Mong Marma in the chair.
It is mentionable that on 12 July 2001, just the day before the handing over charge to the Caretaker Government, the previous Awami League government hurriedly passed the “CHT Land (Disputes Settlement) Commission Act 2001” in the parliament without taking into account the advice and recommendations given by the CHTRC. As a result, so many provisions crept into the Act which were contradictory to the CHT Accord and detrimental to the interest of the Jumma people.
With the grand alliance forming a new government in January 2009, the CHTRC again sent the recommendation to the government on 7 May 2009 for consideration. Accordingly several meetings on amendment of CHT Land Dispute Settlement Commission Act were held during the period of present government.
The 4th meeting of the CHT Accord Implementation Committee held in Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban in Dhaka on 22 January 2012 with Ms. Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury in the chair decided to amend the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act 2001 as per recommendations of CHT Regional Council and CHT Affairs Ministry in the winter session of the Parliament.