Army and BGB’s attempt to set up camps by occupying Jumma’s land in Baghaichari

Photo: Signboard set up by army

Hill Voice, 28 March 2022, Rangamati: It has been alleged that the Bangladesh Army is trying to set up an army camp by occupying the lands of the Jummas in Sarowatali Union of Baghaichhari Upazila under Rangamati Hill District. Meanwhile, the army has unilaterally erected a signboard on the land saying it is a ‘designated place for security forces’ and threatened to evacuate Jumma families living there.

According to local sources, on March 12, 2022, at around 10:45 am, a group of army members from Durchhari Bazar Army Camp under Longadu Army Zone came to Uttar Khagrachhari (Medenipur) village of Ward 5 of Sarowatali Union of Baghaichhari and set up a signboard on the land of Jummas and nearby their homesteads saying it a designated place. The signboard stated, ‘designated place for security forces’, ‘North Khagrachhari Army Camp’, ‘construction of any kind of mosque, madrasa, temple, church, keyang house or any other type of installation on such place is strictly prohibited and punishable offense’ and ‘By order: Longadu Zone’.

Besides, while going back after setting up the signboard the army said the locals by threatening that those who had built houses there would have to leave.

It is learnt that the place where the army has put up a signboard saying ‘North Khagrachhari Army Camp’ has records in the names of three Jumma villagers. The owners of the lands are- (1) Chandra Chakma, in whose name there is recorded .50 acres, (2) Lakshidhan Chakma, in whose name there is recorded 2.00 acres and (3) Shukracharya Chakma, in whose name there is recorded .50 acres.

At present there are 16 Jumma families living in the area. The families are- (1) Sonadhan Chakma, son of Dhananjay Chakma, (2) Dharmadhan Chakma, son of Tera Chakma, (3) Bimal Chakma, son of Prabhat Chandra Chakma, (4) Madhu Jiban Chakma, son of Reserv Kumar Chakma , (5) Suresh Kumar Chakma, son of Mangal Dhan Chakma, (6) Chitti Ranjan Chakma, son of Monchan Chakma, (6) Sumon Chakma, son of Chitti Ranjan Chakma, (6) Gyana Ranjan Chakma, son of Mutu Roy Chakma , (9) Brishaketu Chakma, son of Sanghasur Chakma, (10) Satyaban Chakma, son of Mangal Chan Chakma, (11) Tonu Chakma, son of Dhana Chakma, (12) Beltak Chakma, son of Padalyo Chakma, (13) Binod Baran Chakma, son of Shashi Mohan Chakma, (14) Chandra Chakma, son of Shashi Mohan Chakma, (15) Ripon Chakma, son of  Chandra Chakma and (18) Matri Chakma, daughter of Samar Chakma.

According to local sources, on August 8, 1988, the army and Bengali settlers carried out a brutal massacre on innocent Jummas at Khagrachhari area and Durchhari Bazar of Sarowatali Union. In the history of the CHT, which is known as the Baghaichhari or Khagrachhari massacre, where at least 53 innocent Jummas were shot and killed with sharp weapons.

As the Jumma people of the area fled the village to save their lives as a result of the massacre, the army set up an army camp at that place on the same day. However, after the signing of the CHT Accords on December 2, 1997, it was withdrawn as per the agreement. Then, some of the Jumma families who had become refugees in 1988 started settlement there again building their homes. Locals said the army is again trying to evict them from their own homes by occupying the lands and setting up camp there.

The BGB also wants to evict land and set up camps in the same manner:

It has been alleged that Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) is also trying to set up a camp by occupying the land of a Jumma villager in the East Hirachar village of the same union nearby that area in the same way. The victim owner of that land is Rasik Chandra Chakma, son of Nabin Chandra Chakma.

It is learnt that Rasik Chandra Chakma also became displaced and fled elsewhere after the genocide that took place on August 8, 1988. Shortly afterwards, the then BDR (now BGB) set up camp by occupying the recorded land of Rasik Chandra Chakma. When the camp was withdrawn after the Accord, Rasik Chandra Chakma returned to his place and established settlements and orchards there. Last January, a group of BGB members from 37 BGB Rajanagar Zone of Longadu came there and set up a similar signboard and said threatening words to the owner of the land.

One of the owners of the land, who did not want to be named, said, ‘How many times will we be displaced? If I die this time, I will die in my own land. However, we will not be able to give our land.’