Inquiry team of NHRC visits the spot of attack and arson in Lama

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Hill Voice, 6 January 2023, Bandarban: A four-member inquiry team of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) visited Rengyen Mro Para, the spot of the attack and arson, at Dhenkichara Ambagan area of Sarai Union of Lama Upazila in Bandarban. Yesterday Thursday (January 5) at 10:30 am, the investigation team from Bandarban district town reached Rengyen Mro Para for on-site investigation.

The investigation team of the NHRC consists of Director (Complaints and Investigations) Md. Ashraful Alam (District and Sessions Judge), Deputy Director Mohammad Gazi Salauddin and Officer-in-Charge of Rangamati Hill District Office of the Commission Md. Rabiul Islam under the leadership of Commission’s member from Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Kongjori Chowdhury.

During the visit of the inquiry committee of the NHRC to the spot, Officer-in-Charge of Lama Police Station Shahidul Islam Chowdhury, Chairman of Sarai Union Parishad Mohammad Idris Company, journalists from Bandarban District and Lama Upazila were present.

Members of the inquiry committee of the NHRC visited burnt houses and destroyed houses there. Villagers who lost their homes in the attack burst into tears after finding them.

Karbari Rengyen Mro of the village said that Lama Rubber Industry Limited Company attacked them with baton force on January 1 to take possession of the land by evicting them.

Chamrum Mro, a widow whose house was burnt down, told the inquiry committee that the assailants came to the village screaming in a truck. Hearing the noise, she along with two children somehow escaped to the forest to protect themselves.

After the visit, Ashraful Alam, a member of the delegation of the NHRC and Director of the Complaints and Investigations Branch of the Commission, told reporters that the NHRC has been playing a vocal role since the beginning of the land dispute in Lama’s Sarai that started in April last year. Some instructions were given to the administration and the police fearing a deterioration of the law and order situation. If those instructions were followed, attacks, arson and vandalism would not have happened again.

The head of the investigation committee, Kongjori Chowdhury, pointed out that Chittagong Hill Tracts Land Dispute Settlement Commission is not able to work properly and said that the main problem of Chittagong Hill Tracts is land. This problem would have been solved if the Land Dispute Settlement Commission had worked properly. When the Land Commission convenes a meeting, one party calls for a strike.

It should be noted that on April 26, 2022, Lama Rubber Industries Ltd. set fire to 350 acres of Jum-farming land, plantations and village forests belonging to the indigenous peoples of Longkam Mro Karbari Para, Joychandra Tripura Karbari Para and Rengyen Mro Karbari Para in Sarai Union of Lama.

As a result of the burning of 350 acres of Jum-farmong land, plantations and village forest in three villages of Lama, the livelihood of 200 villagers of 39 families is facing a crisis of food and drinking water, while the natural environment has been severely damaged including the death of wild animals.

Despite such incidents happening one after the other, the indigenous people are not getting the security of their lives and homesteads. Such events are not possible without the direct support of the local administration.

It is the prevailing culture of impunity that encourages these criminals to carry out repeated attacks on indigenous peoples, opined prominent citizens of the country.

In the evening before the arson and attack, the SI Shamim of Lama police station came and ordered the residents of the Rengyen Mro Para that houses cannot be moved in this area. All will be demolished. After this statement of the police, the people of the rubber company attacked at night. So, the indigenous peoples are afraid to go to the police even in such a state of helplessness.

Prominent citizens of the country have pointed out that the attack and arson being carried out on these indigenous people of Lama with the direct help of the police administration in collaboration with the Lama Rubber Company for almost a year is inhumane and barbaric.

The NHRC, 42 eminent citizens and various political, cultural and human rights organizations and individuals have demanded justice for the ongoing violence against the Mro and Tripura communities, the arrest and exemplary punishment of those involved, providing measures for life security including land rights of the Mro and Tripura villagers and cancellation of the lease of Lama Rubber Company.