Hill Voice, 10 January 2021, Rangamati: It has been alleged that the army has destroyed the land properties and valuable plantations of the indigenous Jumma villagers of four villages to build 32 km road in Sajek area of Baghaichhari upazila under Rangamati Hill District. The four villages facing damage along the Sajek-Kamalak road under construction are Danripara, Choinalpara, Bara Kamalakpara and Udaypur under Sajek union.
As of the writing of this report, a list of at least 60 affected families in these four villages of Sajek Union has been found. Among them there are 10 families in Danripara, 18 families in Choinalpara, 22 families in Bara Kamalakpara and 10 families in Udaypur village. It is also learned that there are more affected families.
According to the affected people, at least 43 acres of land belonging to 80 families in these four villages have been occupied and plantations of teak, banana, mango, litchi, betel nut, flower bushes, etc. and orchards of turmeric, sesame etc. have been destroyed.
There have even been allegations that the houses of several Jumma villagers along the road have been demolished. Needless to say, the army not only destroyed the valuable fruit orchards and forest plantation of the Jumma people, it also destroyed natural forest and hill one after another with big bulldozers and tractors.
It is learnt that 20 ECB of the Army is constructing this Sajek-Kamalak road on the border of Mizoram of India. The width of the road will be 40 feet. This road is being constructed on the land traditionally owned by the Jumma people.
The local Jumma people complained and protested to the army officials but the army authorities did not take cognizance of it. Even if the villagers demand compensation, the army did not pay any attention.
In addition, the army has threatened the victims, saying, “These are government lands. You have no rights to these lands. You cannot claim these lands. The administration can evict you at any time if it wants. The government is not doing much because it takes care of you.’
According to locals, the road has so far covered 12 km from Ruilui Danripara in Sajek to Sijokchhara Dam, 10 km from Sijokchhara to Udaypur Road in the north and 10 km to Kamalak in the south.
It is to be noted that there are allegations that the government and administration are forcibly constructing Sajek-Kamlak border road and Thegamukh land port by violating the rights of the local Jumma people and ignoring the public opinion including the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Regional Council and above all, violating the CHT Accord and CHT Regional Council Act. As part of this, on March 10, 2020, Home Minister Md. Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal visited Sajek and inspected the road construction project.
It is to be noted that since the the signing of the CHT Accord, Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) and CHT Regional Council, considering the rights of the local people, gave their opinion in favor of stopping the road construction project. They made a written recommendation to stop the development of Thegamukh-Quarpuchhaya land port and construction of link road from Thegamukh to Chittagong until the land dispute in the CHT is resolved as per the CHT Accord and the Regional Council Act and the three Hill District Council Act are properly implemented. But the government and the army continued to build the road.