Experts and indigenous leaders yesterday recommended creation of a separate land commission for the plain land adivasis to resolve the long-standing land disputes, which are threatening their existence.
They also laid emphasis on strengthening the indigenous organisations and their leadership to defend the interests of the minorities.
They were speaking at a seminar, “Land Rights of the Plain Land's Indigenous People, Problems and Deprivation”, at the capital's Jatiya Press Club.
The Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD) organised the seminar to reveal the findings of a recent research on the rights and problems of indigenous people living in four districts--Rajshahi, Dinajpur, Mymensingh and Tangail.
Abul Hossain, who conducted the research with Parag Richil, said they found weakness in indigenous organisations and leadership, non-recognition of the customary land laws, and false cases implicating the community people as the main reasons for land problems.
The study also revealed a lack of responsible behaviours from the local administration towards the indigenous people, he said, adding that a sense of deprivation and insecurity was intensifying among the people, and some were silently leaving the country.
Sanjeeb Drong, general secretary of the Indigenous People's Forum, said the land commission for plain land adivasis should comprise members of the communities. He demanded a national policy for all indigenous communities and a separate ministry for the indigenous people in plain lands.
Meshbah Kamal, a Dhaka University history professor, who is working for adivasis, said there should be a law banning transfer of land from indigenous people to non-indigenous people. He also demanded more budgetary allocation for these people.
Eminent columnist Syed Abul Maksud demanded that the government publish a white paper describing the entire scenario of the indigenous communities in Bangladesh.
Information Commissioner Prof Sadeka Halim, among others, also spoke at the programme, moderated by ALRD Executive Director Shamsul Huda.