Jasim Uddin Majumder, Khagrachari
Bengali People of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) are in eviction panic due to the steps taken by CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission (CHTLDRC) following controversial CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act (CHTLDRCA) -2001 (Amended in 2016).
The Leaders of Parbatto Chattogram Nagorik Parishad (PCNP) expressed their deep concerned over the steps has taken by the CHTLDRC in recent times. Bengali leaders are worrying and strongly opposed the decision has taken by commission to resolve land disputes pointing the commission act is controversial and a way to drive out Bangali people from CHT.
The PCNP leaders have pointed six major reasons that gripped Bengali people in panic of eviction from their recorded and possessed lands. The first reason is there is no Bengali representative in the CHTLDRC while the second reason is majority members of the CHTLDRC are from tribal community, the third reason is there is no chance to challenge the commission decision at upper court, fourth reason is amendment facility of application (plaint) at any stages of disposal, fifth reason is to give priority on existing laws, customs and practices instead of existing land related laws or obeying existing authority and sixth reason is to give tribal people priority in appointment of officers and staffs at CHTLDRC.
Protesting against the controversial CHTLDRCA and demanding its amendment PCNP has observed protest procession, formed human chain, hold press conference, sent memorandum to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and observed hartal on last December December 21st, 22nd and 23rd with a demand to amend CHTLDRCA.
They have also threatened government to go tougher movement if their demand is not full fills as soon as possible.
PCNP member Engineer Abdul Majid said you (Journalist) know at first Bengali people are panic as there is no Bengali representative at CHT land Commission and the second reasons is majority members are belonging from tribal community.
Pointing section 7(5) of CHTLDRCA Majid said at first (2001) it was “Chairman shall take decision on the basis of discussion with other members present on the areas of activities stated in section 6(1) and under related areas unanimously but if the decision is not unanimous in that case his decision shall be treated as the decision of the Commission”. But after the amendment (2016) of this section now this section clearly mentioned decision of majority including the chairman shall be treated as the decision of the Commission.
There are 9 members CHTLDRC headed by a chairman, who is a retired justice of supreme court of Bangladesh, Divisional Commissioner or Additional Divisional Commissioner is representative of government, CHT regional council chairman or his nominated tribal member, three tribal circle chief’s or their nominated members and three tribal Hill District Council chairmen’s or their nominated members.
That means 07 members out of total 09 members are belonging from tribal communities while there is none from Bangali people in CHT. That means the decision is going against Bengali people as most of the CHTLDRC members are tribals.
Joint Secretary of PCNC Masum Rana explains third reasons and termed CHT land commission act is controversial one. Quoiting section 16 where mentioned any decision given by the commission on any petition submitted under section 6(1) shall be treated as decree of the civil court and neither appeal or revision petition can be submitted to any court or any authority nor question can be raised regarding its legality or appropriateness.
Terming section 16 of CHTLDRCA wholly un-constitutional, he said every citizens has right to get protection of law as per article 31 of our constitution, but if Bengali people (he/she) loses his/her land, orchards, houses in CHT, he/she has no chances to go higher courts challenging the decision of commission, he added.
General Secretary of PCNP and ex-Mayor of Bagaichari Municipality Alamgir Kabir narrated 4th reasons and pointed CHTLDRC act as contradictory with the constitution of country. In last amendment (2016) a sub section is inserted after section 9 of the commission act and it was amended as- 9 (2) the applicant, in interest of having proper justice can apply, before disposal of the matter, at any time to amend his/her petition.”
This section is also goes against Bengali people, he said with an example that, if an ethnic man submitted a petition before CHTLDRC, then commission would issue a notice to Bengali defended. When Bengali defended would submit reply mentioning details in regards of records and possession related documents in written to commission then commission staffs (who are ethnics) might discloses the reply to ethnic petitioner and after analysis lawful point ethnic petitioner might change his petition and submit amendment petition using collected information from defendant reply.
You (Journalist) know that most of the CHTLDRC’s officer and staffs already recruited from ethnic communities and they would be using as the tools of ethnic politicians that hampering the interest of Bengali people. Bengali people deprive of getting legal justice from this controversial CHTLDRC.
PCNP President Alkachh Al Mamun pointed 5th reasons and said the law is unconstitutional as because this CHTLDRCA-2001 (amended in 2016) is enacted only to rehabilitate tribal peoples. He critics section 6(1)(c) where mentioned that “If any land settlement is made against the existing laws, customs and practices of the Chittagong Hill Tracts it shall stand rejected and on account of this settlement if any lawful owner is evicted from land, his possession shall be restored”.
If anyone is lawful owner and if he displaces somehow then he would be restored on his recorded land and we will accept it but the decision should come as per existing land laws of the country, not as per laws, customs and practices of Chittagong Hill Tracts, he said adding that there is no chance in our constitution to provide two types services to our citizens.
Alkachh Al Mamum, also critics section 17(2) for achieving the objectives of implementation of decision of commissions (1) all authorities shall be bound to follow the instructions of the commissions.
If you (Journalist) see, tribal leaders want commission shall work with existing laws, customs and practices of Chittagong Hill Tracts, that means they do not obey our existing land related rules, laws, acts and existing authorities decision but they want implementation of the CHTLDRC’s decision through using existing authorities, formed, running or control by country’s existing laws.
Parbatta Bangali Dalopoti Parishad Chairman Abdul Aziz Akanda explains 6th reasons said a new section 13(3) is added after section 13(2) in regards of appointment is also unconstitutional. In section 13(3) clearly mentioned that Secretary, officers and employees of the Commission, under this sub-section, shall be appointed giving priority to the tribal persons of the Hill districts.”
Terming the section contradictory with constitution Aziz mentioned that as per article 29(1) of our constitution there shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in respect of employment or office in the services of republic. But article 29(1) is not followed here that also discrimination for around 50 percent Bengali people living in CHT.
Terming CHTLDRCA is a controversial he urged government to amend it considering around 50 percent Bengali people of total population in CHT.