Protest march and rally in Dhaka to stop eviction of two Jumma villages


Hill Voice, 21 March 2024, Rangamati: A protest march and a demonstration was held at Shahbagh in Dhaka organized by student and youth organizations of pro-CHT Accord implementation movement demanding to stop eviction of 2 indigenous Jumma villages for tourist centre naming Gachbagan Para and Thum Para on the border of Jurachari and Bilaichari upazilas in Rangamati hill district, on 21 March 2024, Thursday.

The demonstration was moderated by the organizing secretary of Dhaka Metropolitan unit of Pahari Chatra Parisad (PCP) Rubel Chakma while presided over by President of Bangladesh Juba Maitri Touhidur Rahman Touhid.

General Secretary of Bangladesh Youth Union Jahangir Alam Nanu, Vice President of Bangladesh Adivasi Youth Forum Tony Chiran, President of Bangladesh Chatra Maitri Atulon Das Alo, General Secretary of Bangladesh Samajtantrik Chatra Front Raihan Uddin, President of Bangladesh Chatra League (BCL) Goutam Shil, President of Dhaka Metropolitan unit of PCP Jagdish Chakma, General Secretary of Bangladesh Marma Student Council Aung Shwe Singh Marma and President of Dhaka Metropolitan Branch of Bangladesh Mro Student Association, Danwai Mro and others spoke among others in the event.

Riya Chakma, general secretary of Dhaka Metropolitan Committee of Hill Women’s Federation read out the statement in the gathering.

President of Dhaka Metropolitan Branch of Bangladesh Mro Student Association Danwai Mro in his welcome speech said that the country’s ruling group has been suppressing and oppressing the CHT for a long time. As per CHT Accord, the participation of hill people in Hill District Council projects should be ensured. The indigenous Jumma people has constantly been put on pressure. In the name of development, roller coasters are being run on the Jumma people.

General Secretary of Bangladesh Marma Student Council Aung Shwe Singh Marma said that the army has hatched conspiracy to evict the two indigenous Jumma villages by boarder road in the name of tourism. The main means of living of the hill people is Jum cultivation. If the ruling class do not allow the cultivation of Jum, turmeric and ginger cultivation, then it is a matter of think that how the Jumma people will survive. We are neither against development or tourism. But if we are evicted in the name of tourism, we oppose that kind of development. We demand withdrawal of temporary army camps from hills, functional of Chittagong Hill Tracts Land Dispute Resolution Commission and hand over the subject of Land Management to the Hill District Council as per the CHT Accord.

President of Dhaka Metropolitan unit of PCP Jagdish Chakma said, “We are to stand at this Shahbagh again and again regarding to protest the incidents in the hills and plains. Which is very sad. We cannot consider that as development which evicts the Jummas from their lands. Attempts are being made to arrest the victimized Jummas. The Bangladesh Army should be guard to Bangladesh’s sovereignty but not broacher. Why will they do tourism business? They want to evict the Jummas from Bangladesh. He also said that the ruling class is plotting various conspiracies to thwart the CHT Accord. He called upon all the progressive student societies to stay in the struggle.

Jasad Chatra League president Goutam Shil said that the hill community are dependent on Jum cultivation for thousands of years. And efforts are being made to stop it. It is a shame when a state does not treat all its communities equally. It is sorry to say that, today the army are destroying the Jummas in the name of development. Don’t evict anyone in the name of development. Calling on the state machineries, he urge to stop evicting hill dwellers in the name of development.

General Secretary of Bangladesh Samajtantrik Chatra Front Raihan Uddin said that any development taken should be people-friendly. The Lusai of Sajek were evicted, the Mro in Chimbuk hill are kept under process to evict. We will not allow some business group looting while the government support them in doing so.

Expressing solidarity in the rally, President of Bangladesh Chatra Maitri Atulon Das Alo said that the government provide compensation while implement project in the plain but why is it different in the case of hills? No compensation is given in the hills. On the contrary, special forces were sent to kill the hill people at night. A policy of two rules in a state towards the citizens is not fair. Along with the Bengalis, the Jummas also shed blood for the independence of Bangladesh. He also said that these problems cannot be solved unless the CHT Accord is implemented. The hill communities need clean water, employment and quality education facilities.

Vice-president of Bangladesh Adivasi Youth Forum Tony Chiran said, “I want to say to the honourable Prime Minister that we don’t just want to live in the National Museum box, but want all kinds of rights including land rights. In the Chittagong Hill Tracts, why the settlers are provided ration. He also said that the fundamental clauses of the CHT Accord have not been implemented. Rape, harassment, disappearances are going on in the hills today with the instigation of a special group. If it is not stopped, we will continue our struggle on the street of hill and plains.

Jahangir Alam Nanu, general secretary of Bangladesh Youth Union, in his solidarity speech said that all regions of Bangladesh should be equally developed. But we found that the hill peoples in CHT are not given equal civil rights. The CHT Accord has not been implemented even after 26 years. Land grabbing in the hills is a common phenomenon, the Chittagong Hill Tracts Land Dispute Resolution Commission has not been functional. The government is not solving the CHT issue with an aim to provide facilities to the army. Why will the villages be evicted for border road? Where will the hill dwellers go after being ousted? When the Prime Minister said not a single piece of land could be kept vacant, today the hill people are being prevented from cultivating Jum farm?

In the president’s speech, Touhidur Rahman Touhid said that the attempts to evict the hill dwellers must be stopped. The indigenous people of Bangladesh should be given equal rights. The Jummas were ousted by the Kaptai Dam. Although the internal displaced persons are supposed to rehabilitate as per the Accord, but still the Accord has yet to be implemented till the day. Although the Chittagong Hill Tracts Land Disputes Resolution Commission has been formed, its rules have not been formulated yet. He also said that the indigenous people should be kept in the tourism process. Eco-tourism should be ensured. The effort for tourism evicting the villagers should be stopped with providing them security.

The following 8 points were demanded from the rally-
1. Stop eviction of indigenous peoples in the name of tourism.
2. Stop land grabbing in the name of tourism.
3. Provide security to the villagers.
4. Withdraw the instruction for leaving the two villages.
5. Stop tourism adjacent to the villages.
6. Don’t obstruct to jum cultivation.
7. Provide compensation to the families affected by the border road project.
8. According to the CHT Accord, transfer the tourism sector to the Hill District Councils immediately

The army are plotting to evict 23 families of two Jumma villages on the boundary of Jurachari and Bilaichari by taking the advantage of construction of the Rajasthali-Bilaichari-Jurachhari border link road in Rangamati district by the 26 Engineering Construction Battalion under the 34 Engineering Construction Brigade of the Army. These two villages are Gachbagan Para of Dumdumya Union under Jurachari Upazila and Thum Para of Farua Union under Bilaichari Upazila. The army ordered 12 families of Gachbagan Para to leave their villages and banned at least 17 families of two villages from Jum farming, their main source of livelihood.