A delegation of Citizens' Platform (Nagorik Samaj) on Tuesday demanded a stop to the conspiracy to evict Khasia and Garo communities from their land in Moulvibazar in the name of expanding tea garden.
Miscreants recently chopped down hundreds of betel leaf trees from the jhum land of Agar Punji (village) under Barlekha upazila and grabbed 70 acres of jhum land of Khasia community at Bonakhal Punji (village) of the and demanded Tk 10 lakh ransom. The land was later recovered and handed over to Khasia people by local administration.
There have been allegations that one Rehana Tea Garden cut down several trees from the Kakrachara Punji (village) under Kulaura upazila.
The headmen of these three villages filed general diaries with their respective police stations in this regard.
A 10-member delegation of citizens' platform demanded a stop this grabbing and evicting while inspecting the affected villages.
The members are---Nagorik Uddog's Executive Director Jakir Hossain, Dhaka University Prof Robaet Ferdous, Bangladesh Adivashi Forum's Information and Publicity Secretary Dipayan Khisha, Dhaka University teacher Jobaida Nasrin Kona, Writer and researcher Pavel Partha, Kushtia Islami University teacher Farha Tanzim Titly, BAPA's representative Md Aminur Rasul Babul, activist Masud Alam, Journalist Tanmoy Modak and Adivashi Chhatra Sangram Parishad's General Secretary Alik Mri.
DU teacher Prof Robaet Ferdous said we can understand a state by its attitude towards its religious and ethnic minority groups.
"If they (minority groups) are in good condition then it can be assumed that the majority people of the state are in good condition," he said.
Demanding to identify and punish those involved in cutting the trees and grabbing jhum land of Khasia and Garo communities, Prof Robaet said, "These kinds of news make us sad. Stop the conspiracy to evict ethnic minority groups from their land in the name expansion of tea garden."
Writer and researcher Pavel Partha said these minority groups are balancing the ecology of the state free of cost.
"If their management is recognised, the environment will be better and the people will remain in peace," he added.
Urging the government to take necessary steps to solve the land related problem of Khasia and Garo communities, Jakir Hossain, executive director of Nagorik Uddog said, "They should be given security to cultivate their jhum land".
Dipayan Khisa, information and publicity secretary of Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, said the act was absolutely inhumane. Where trees are the only source of livelihood for the indigenous people, arbitrary felling of trees has not only harmed the environment, it has also hurt the livelihood of the indigenous people.
After inspecting the affected villages, the delegation was scheduled to meet deputy commissioner of the district and superintendent of Moulvibazar district police.
Later, the team held a view exchange meeting with the journalists.