Army obstruction to Jum farming, order to vacate village in Bilaichari-Jurachari

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Photo: Symbolic

Hill Voice, 10 March 2024, Rangamati: It is alleged that Bangladesh army have obstructed the indigenous Jum farmers from cutting Jums (slash and burn cultivation) and ordered them to leave from their village in Gachbagan Para, a remote village on the border of Bilaichari Upazila-Jurachari Upazila under Rangamati hill district. Besides, the army personnel of Farua under Bilaichari have reportedly threatened to kill a Jumma villager.

According to local sources, a high official of the army visited the Gachbagan army camp in the Gachbagan area bordering Bilaichari and Jurachari upazila on March 8, 2024 at around 3 pm. However, the army official left the camp in the afternoon on that day.

For the visit, the Gachbagan army temporarily stopped all the vehicle movement on all the roads of Gachbagan Para village for three days (March 7 to 9). The Gachbagan army camp is under Bilaichari army zone.

The following day of the visit (March 9) at around 8 am, a group of army led by Subedar Ranjan Chakma from Gachbagan army camp went to Gachbagan Para village by a vehicle. At that time, the army personnel inquired for Karbari (village head). As he was not at home, gathering all the villagers at one place, the army ordered them to vacate the Gachbagan Para and its neighbouring Thumpara village. The subedar Ranjan Chakma said that it was the order of visited army official.

At that time, the army also threatened the villagers that if they would not leave the village immediately, they would face dire consequence. Moreover, the army also prohibited the villagers to cut or burn Jum in Gachbagan Para and its surrounding areas.

It is known that Jum farming is one of the main means of livelihood to most of these remote Jumma people. So many of them have already cleared jungles for Jum farms. Now it’s time to burn the Jums. The sudden army order has now created great anxiety among the Jum farmers.

It is further reported, a group of army led by Captain Sihab numbering 15-20 personnel from Farua army subzone of Farua Union under Bilaichari went to the Tripura para at Raypara chara on March 8, 2024 around 1:00 pm and ordered Fasya Tripura (32) son of Rajan Tripura to stop operating his grocery shop. Though he was not at the shop then, a man named Komal Chakma was there. In the meantime, the army officer captain Sihab threatened, if Fasya Tripura is not handed over to the army, he will be killed wherever he is found.