Settlers Attempt to grab lands: Attack upon Jumma people in Nanyachar

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Hill Voice, 11 February 2020, Nanyachar, Rangamati:  The indigenous Jumma people offered a tough resistance to a 70-80-member mob of Bengali Muslim settlers who were in an attempt to grab the lands and construct houses around 9:00 am on 11 February 2020 at 17 Mile area of Bogachari of Nanyachar upazila under Rangamati Hill District.  As a result, there was an altercation between the two sides and at certain phase, the settlers began to attack the Jumma villagers. Consequently, both the sides got involved in clashes, chasing and counter-chasing that lasted for a few hours.

During the incident of chasing and counter-chasing, the Jumma drivers and passengers of auto-rickshaws and motor bikes coming from Rangamati and also from Khagrachari reportedly came under surprise attacks of the settlers already housed along the Rangamati-Khagrachari main road.  During the turmoil, a motor bike passenger named Ananta Mohan Chakma (65) of Hazachari Poshchim Para under Ghilachari union of Nanyachar got serious injuries in head and knees. Later, he was sent to the Rangamati General Hospital. Besides, another motor bike driver named Sufal Chakma, s/o Mangal Sen Chakma of Machine Para under Mahalchari Upazila of Khagrachari hill district also came under attack; he could somehow manage to wriggle out but was robbed of mobile phone and money he had.

It was learnt that on 5 February 2020, one Bengali settler named Habib along with a group of his fellow men built a house on a land owned by Mrs. Sanchita Chakma (Shikha Ma), daughter of Robi Chandra Chakma at 17-Mile area of Bogachari ignoring protest of the local Jumma villagers. At this, having been encouraged and incited, 10 more settler families arrived there to build their houses in the very presence of a group of army on 7 February 2020. On the following day of 8 February 2020, the local Jumma villagers partially dismantled the house built already. On next day the 9 February 2020 the house was fully razed down. But this prompted the settlers in a mob to go there and build houses again. Now, as the Jumma villagers prevented them, a fresh clash broke out between the two communities on 11 February 2020.

It is learnt that after the confrontation there was a meeting with Jumma and settler leaders led by Nanyachar Upazila Nirbahi Officer (Executive Officer), Second-in-Command (2IC) of Nanyachar Army Zone and Upazila Vice Chairman between 12.15 pm to 1:00 pm, but there was no decision drawn over the land grabbing incident. During the meeting, though the local Jummas managed to show their land-related documents, the Bengali settlers including Habib who led land grabbing attempt could not reportedly show any documents.

It is also learnt that the Major (2IC) of Nanyachar Army Zone, without taking any steps against illegal construction of houses by the Bengali settlers and instead, names and addresses of the Jumma people who were allegedly held as responsible for attacking the Bengali settlers were noted down in the meeting. Reportedly, he made a list of 50/60 Jumma villagers as attackers. The local Jumma residents suspected that fresh cases would be filed or there might be conducted army operation against them.

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