Sit-in strike in Dhaka, demanding their protection from land-grabber Lama rubber company

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Hill Voice, 28 February 2023, Dhaka: A sit-in strike program was held in front of the High Court of Dhaka to protest against the attempt of occupation of 400 acres of land of the indigenous Mro and Tripura villagers of Soroi Union of Lama Upazila in Bandarban by the rubber company ‘Lama Rubber Industries Limited’ and the forced construction of house on the site of a Buddhist monastery and to demand punishment of the land grabbers. The sit-in strike demanded to the government and the civil society to protect the victim indigenous people from the hands of the land-grabber Rubber Industries.

Today 28 February 2023 from 10 AM to 12 PM this sit-in strike program was organized by Lama Soroi Bhumi Raksha Sangram Committee.

During the sit-in strike, the convener of Lama Soroi Bhumi Raksha Sangram Committee Rangdhajan Tripura, member of Committe and Karbari (head of Rengen Mro Para) Rengyen Mro and others spoke on behalf of the aggrieved villagers. Besides, the leaders of various political and student organizations of Dhaka also gave solidarity speeches.

At that time, Rangdhajan Tripura said in his speech that the land-grabber Rubber Industries Company had committed such as incidents which were the violation of human rights. These land grabbers continued their misdeeds one after another, flouting all the laws of the state, pointing the thumb at the administration. But till date no action has been taken against them.
A leaflet was also published by the ‘Lama Soroi Bhumi Raksha Sangram Committee’ in view of the sit-in strike.

In the leaflet it has been alleged that ‘Lama Rubber Industries Limited’ has been trying to occupy 400 acres of land of Mros and Tripuras in Langkom Mro Para, Rengyen Mro Para and Jayachandra Tripura Para in Sarai Union of Lama Upazila of Bandarban for a long time. The miscreants of the Rubber Industries Limited are making various conspiracies including filing harassing false cases, attacking and torturing one after the other to take away the lands belonging to the hill people.

In the late night of January 1 this year, 6 houses were set on fire, vandalized and looted in Rengyen Mro Para. Earlier, last year on April 9 and 26, Jum land was cut and set on fire and the natural environment and biodiversity including plantations and fields were destroyed, on July 13 the organizer of the land protection movement, Rangdhajan Tripura, was attacked, on August 10 the Ashoka Buddhist tempe built by Rengyen Mro Para residents was vandalized and the Buddha statues were looted, on September 6 the villagers were attempted to kill by poisoning the only source of water of the residents of Rengyen Mro Para, on September 24, 300 banana trees of a resident of the village were cut. On behalf of the administration, there has been an obstacle to the construction of the school at the initiative of the villagers. Last on February 20, 2023, 30 workers led by Delwar of Lama Rubber Industries built a house at the site of Ashok Buddhist Temple in Rengen Mro Para.

The leaflet also said, ‘We are constantly living in fear and insecurity. We have been and continue to be attacked again and again by the miscreants of Lama Rubber Industries Limited. Last January, the National Human Rights Commission visited Langkom Mro Para, Rengyen Mro Para and Jayachandra Tripura Para in Lama. At that time, the chairman of the Human Rights Commission and other leaders gave various assurances to the residents. The Mro and Tripura villagers thought that they might be safe this time, that they would get back their last possession of 400 acres of land. But in recent times the opposite picture is seen.

Without ensuring the safety of Mro and Tripura villagers, without returning their land, the administration has decided to set up a temporary police camp in that area for the convenience of Rubber Industries Limited. The residents of the three villages do not want a police camp there, they want the security including occupation of their Jum land to be stopped and the land to be returned to them.

In the leaflet, the following 7-point demands were raised by the ‘Lama Soroi Bhumi Raksha Sangram Committee’:

1) The land grabbing by Lama Rubber Industries should be stopped and all lands occupied by the company should be returned including the 400 acres of Jum land belong to Mro and Tripura villagers.

2) Sufficient amount of compensation should be paid to the victims of Mros and Tripuras due to the damages by the said company.

3) The miscreants of the rubber company including Kamal Uddin, Moazzem Hossain, Zahir Uddin involved in the destruction of natural environment and biodiversity by cutting and burning the land of Jum, attack on Ashoka Buddhist Monastery, vandalism and looting of Buddha statues, poisoning of Kalaia Jhiri water and attack on Bhumi Raksha Sangram Committee convener Rangdhajan Tripura should be arrested and punished.

4) All false cases filed against Bhumi Raksha Committee leaders and villagers by the company should be withdrawn.

5) All land leases given to various individuals and organizations including Lama Rubber Industries Limited for the purpose of creating rubber and other plantations or tourism development in Bandarban should be cancelled.

6) Appropriate compensation should be given to the victims of arson, vandalism, looting of 6 houses in Rengyen Mro Para of Sarai Union of Lama and exemplary punishment should be given by arresting the miscreants of the rubber industries who set the fire on.

7) The security of the residents of Langkom Mro Para, Rengyen Mro Para and Jayachandra Tripura Para should be ensured and the decision to set up temporary police camps supporting land grabbers should be cancelled.