Bengali Settler’s attempt to grab land, Buddhist temple ransacked

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Hill Voice, 12 October 2023, Rangamati: It is alleged that Bengali settlers, adjacent to the Bhaibonchara area under Longudu Union of Langudu Upazila in Rangamati hill district, has been attempting to encroach land of an indigenous Jumma villager for a long time.

It is reported, today at around the dawn (12 October 2023), the Bengali settlers attacked, vandalized and looted a local Buddhist monastery amidst a stage of conflict among the Bengali settlers and the local indigenous Jumma villagers centring occupation of land. The Bhikkhu (head) of temple has taken shelter in the house of a nearby Jumma villager fearing for his life. This has created tension in the area.

According to local sources, Sunil Kumar Chakma, son of- Taruni Sen Chakma have a land settlement of 5.00 acres in Bhaibonchara area of Longadu Mouza No. 3 under Longadu Upazila. The holding no. of the land is, No-H 26 of and Settlement Case No-1047(D)/75-76 AD. A few years ago, the land owner Sunil Kumar Chakma donated 2.00 acres from the land in the name of ‘Bibek Sadhana Bana Bihara’. So, there remains 3.00 acres of land on his possession. Sunil Kumar Chakma planted various herbal plants including teak on that land.

But since 2015, the neighbouring Bengali settlers have been attempting to grab 1.00 acre of his recorded land. Against this backdrop, on the night of October 17, 2015, a group of Bengali settlers of Bhaibonchara area, led by Md. Abdul Gafur Mian (55), son of late Abdul Mannan and Md. Rashed Mian (45), son of Md. Abdul Gafur Mian, gathered various house building materials on the land of the Jumma villager. When the villagers along with the owner of the land, Sunil Kumar Chakma, prevented the construction of the house on that land, the Bengali setters left the scene. Later, in November 2015 and January 2016, the Bengali settlers tried to occupy the land and build houses. In both cases, the settlers threatened to harm the Jumma villagers every time they were resisted.

On February 9, 2016, the victim, Sunil Kumar Chakma, filed a case in the Rangamati District Joint Judge’s Court seeking redressal of the said encroachment attempt and measures to prevent the Bengali settlers from encroaching the land. The case is still under trial.

But on the night of October 7, 2023, the settlers tried to grab the land, Abdul Gafur Mian and Rashid Mian violating the judicial process, started settling by building two houses on the land and started clearing the jungle around the house. When the owner of the land Sunil Kumar Chakma came to know the matter, he went to the spot and prohibited the clearing of the jungle and requested to demolish the houses. But on the contrary, the Bengali settlers got angry and threatened Sunil Kumar Chakma.

Soon after this, Sunil Kumar Chakma reported the matter to the Chairman of Local Longadu Union Parishad and the Chairman suggested to report the matter to the police station. Sunil Kumar chakma went to police station and filed another complaint. But even after 4/5 days, no initiative was taken from the administration to settle the issue.

In this a state, yesterday on October 11, 2023, at around 10 pm, someone vandalized the two unjustly built houses by the settlers. At this, the settlers gathered and tried to create communal tension.

At Last, today (October 12, 2023 around 2 am), a group of Bengali settlers led by Md. Zakir Hossain (45), son of- Joynal Khan Mistry attacked the ‘Bibek Sadhana Ban Bihara’ with sticks and sharp weapons. During this time, the settlers broke the Bihar’s kitchen, dining, main Bihar house and looted various valuables. At that time, the settlers drove Ven. Klesh Bijay Bhikkhu, Principal of the temple, away from the monastery by threatening his life. At this situation, Ven. Klesh Bijoy Bhikkhu ran away and took refuge in the neighbouring house of Padma Lochan Karbari. While returning, the settlers vandalised the grocery shop of the Dhirgachan Chakma and took away several items of goods.

After the incident, there was tension and panic in the area among the people. The next day’s morning at 7 am of the occurrence, a group of 20/22 army personnel from Bame Longadu Army sub-zone and 7/8 policemen of Longadu police station was reported to have visited the spot.

According to a local source, it was the Bengali settlers who vandalized the houses in a conspiracy to fuel communal tension.

Another source said, there is movement of anti-Accord UPDF armed members in the area. They vandalized those houses just to gain popularity by creating a trivial issue. There was an ill-motivated attempt to stage a protest in Rangamati town with the intentional aim of maligning the JSS over the issue.