Seven indigenous families have recently left their homes in Bandarban's Naikkhyangchhari upazila after some unidentified people had allegedly threatened them with life if they failed to pay them money.
The criminals demanded Tk 1 lakh from each of the families. They also looted their houses and beat them up, the victims said, claiming that the criminals did so to force them to leave their homes and grab their land.
On February 16, the seven families of Chak community left their Kanai Thong Chak Para village following the threat.
“The criminals came to our para [village] on Friday and said if any family wants to live in this para, they have to give Tk 1 lakh a year,” said Chaing Thoai Chak, 42, one of the victims.
Four of the affected families have taken shelter at Chak Headman Para Government Primary School, around five kilometres from their village, and three other families at their relative houses, said Bashing Chak, headman of Naikkhyangchhari mouza.
Some 109 Chak families of Madhyam Chak Para, Pene Shong Ting Chak Para and Pi Chira Chak Para of the mouza are too afraid to go to their crop land after the incident, said the headman.
They have cultivated around 200 acres this year, using jhum cultivation method, he added.
Mong Mong Chak, another victim of the para, said, “A group of eight people with firearms and sharp weapons came to their para on Friday, and told them to leave the para immediately.”
“We have left our village following the threat,” said Chai Lao Chak, a 65-year-old man of the para.
In such circumstances, at least 35 Chak families had to go elsewhere from Badhurjiri Chak Para and Long-gadu Chak Para in Naikkhyangchhari after the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord was signed, said Ching Hla Mong Chak, a leader of Chak community.
He also alleged that Chak people of four other Chak villages -- Hatir Dath Jiri Chak Para, Kami Chak Para, Crokhong Chak Para and Natun Chak Para -- were also in fear of eviction.
Nurul Amin, headmaster of Chak Headman Para Government Primary School, said the local administration did not visit the affected families, who took shelter in three abandoned classrooms of the school, until yesterday.
If the families stay here long, it will hamper academic activities, he said.
Contacted, SM Sarwar Kamal, Naikkhyangchhari upazila nirbahi officer, said he did not get any complaint in this regard until yesterday.
This is thoroughly unacceptable that police did not take any action as no complaint was filed with them, said KS Mong Marma, a member of Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council.
A police team visited the spot. But no-one was arrested in this connection, said Alamgir Sheikh, officer-in-charge of Naikkhyangchhari Police Station.
After the signing of the CHT Peace Accord in 1997, some 156 indigenous families had to leave their ancestral land in six Bandarban mouzas as Bangalee settlers, private rubber plantation owners and horticulturists grabbed their land, says the 2014 report of Parbatya Chattagram Forest and Land Rights Protection Movement of Bandarban chapter.