Meeting of the district administration on the Lama land dispute ended without decision

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Hill Voice, 17 August 2022, Bandarban: It is said that the meeting held by Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Affairs Minister Bir Bahadur Ushwe Sing at the district administration office regarding the land dispute caused by Lama Rubber Industries Limited with the Mro and Tripura villagers of Sarai Union of Lama Upazila of Bandarban, has ended without any settlement or decision.

Yesterday, August 16, 2022 at around 11:30 am, the meeting was held in the conference room of the Bandarban Deputy Commissioner’s office to resolve the anger and dispute over the land dispute. Deputy Commissioner Yasmin Parvin Tibriji and other concerned leaders were present in the meeting along with representatives of Mro and Tripura villagers and representatives of Lama Rubber Industries Limited which is widely known as land grabber.

It is learnt that in the meeting, CHT Minister Bir Bahadur Ushwe Sing and Deputy Commissioner Yasmin Parvin Tibriji proposed allotment of only 5 acres of land per family as against their traditional 400 acres of Para and Jum farming land demanded by the villagers of Mro and Tripura, and the indigenous representatives of Mro and Tripura rejected it. The Mro and Tripura representatives termed the proposal of CHT Minister and Deputy Commissioner as one-sided and biased. As a result, the meeting ended without any decision and resolution.

It is reported that at least 25 people including Bhumi Raksha Sangram Committee convener Rangdhajan Tripura, joint convener Jayachandra Tripura (former Karbari), Rengyen Karbari, Langkam Mro (Karbari), Johan Mro, Baisuram Tripura were present in the meeting on behalf of the affected Mro and Tripura villagers.

On the other hand, Chairman of Rubber Industries Limited Syed Moazzem Hossain, Project Director Kamal Uddin and others were present on behalf of Lama Rubber Industries Limited.

It is known that in the meeting, Minister Bir Bahadur first urged to accept the assurance given by Rubber Industries Limited to provide 5 acres of land per family. He opined that ‘it will be good for all and no one will be harmed’.

Rangdhajan Tripura, on behalf of the victims, said in response to the CHT Minister’s opinion, “We do not accept this verdict. 1,200 acres of land of rubber company have to be measured first. Our 400 acres should be handed over to us.”

He also said, ‘On August 10, I also brought up the incident of attack, vandalism and looting of the Buddha statue in the newly built Ashoka Buddhist Temple before the minister. But the minister didn’t say a word. On the contrary, he threatened us.’

It has been reported that the authorities of Lama Rubber Industries Limited have been trying to expropriate the remaining 400 acres of Jum plantations and land belonging to the indigenous people of Langkam Mro Karbari Para, Jayachandra Tripura Karbari Para and Rengen Mro Karbari Para of Lama Sarai Union for a long time with hired land grabbers. In this situation, 200 men and women of 39 families of these three indigenous villages inhabited by Mro and Tripura communities are now in fear of eviction.

The indigenous villagers said that they have been making a living by farming and making plantations in their village’s 400 acres of land for generations. But suddenly in 2019, a company named Lama Rubber Industries started trying to take possession of those lands of Jumma villagers in the name of rubber plot. When the villagers resisted, the company men sued the Jumma villagers, assaulted them, killed them and threatened the police. Since then, company people tried to encroach on land of Jumma villagers by bringing laborers several times.

Earlier, Lama Rubber Industries Limited occupied 1,600 acres of land in the name of lease in Natun Para, Dhenkichara Para and Noya Para of Sarai Union’s Doluchari Mouza. As a result, hundreds of families in three villages in the area are under threat of eviction.

It is to be noted that on April 9, 2022, rubber company’s land grabbers cut down various fruit plantations and other saplings and trees belonging to indigenous villagers to occupy about 400 acres of Jum land of local Mro and Tripura and on April 26, 2022, Jum land and village forest was set on fire. Then on July 13, 2022 leader of affected villagers Rangdhajan Tripura was attacked and seriously injured in the headman’s office of Doluchari Mouza. Last August 10, 2022 at around 3:00 PM, hired land robbers of Lama Rubber Industries Limited attacked, vandalized and looted two Buddha statues at the newly built Ashoka Buddhist Bihara in Rengyen Karbari Para with sharp weapons and sticks.

In this situation, yesterday 16 August 2022, the above meeting was held in the Bandarban Deputy Commissioner’s office with the representatives of the victimized Mro and Tripura villagers and Rubber Industries Limited under the chairmanship of the Minister for CHT Bir Bahadur. Although this meeting lasted for about 3 hours, it is said that no decision or settlement was reached at the end.