Tension is mounting between the foresters and local ethnic community people in Madhupur after forest department on Monday conducted a drive to recover a forestland and cut down banana plants on it.
Soon after the drive, local Garo people gathered in front of the local beat office of forest department and staged a demonstration there alleging that without serving any notice the foresters cut down 500 banana plants on the freed land, which a local Garo woman has been cultivating for long.
Jamal Hossain Talukder, assistant forest conservator (ACF) in Madhupur, said they conducted a drive in Segamara area under Dokhala Range and recovered 50 decimals of forestland as part of their ongoing drive to recover the grabbed forestland.
Basanti, a local Garo woman kept the forest land under her possession and leased it to other people for banana cultivation, he added.
Local Garo leader Eugin Nokrek, president of Joyenshahi Adivasi Unnayan Parishad, alleged that the forest department conducts such drives to evict the local ethnic communities from the forest area.
ACF Jamal said they were conducting the drive following directives from the government.
They don't need to serve any notice to the grabbers before conducting such drives, he added.
Meanwhile, the foresters asked the local Garo leaders for a sitting next week to settle the issue.
Mentionable, over 20,000 acres of forestlands, out of 45,565 acres, in Madhupur is still in possession of the illegal occupiers.
Forest officials said they have recovered a total of 157 acres of forestland from different areas, including Dokhala, Segamara, Amtoly, Joynagachha, and Aronkhola, in the last one year.
Some influential people, both locals and outsiders, occupied vast areas of forestland illegally and cultivating different crops and fruits like banana, pineapple, papaya, ginger and turmeric for many years.
The forest department is raising orchards on the recovered forestland to revive the traditional Sal Forest in Madhupur.
Contacted, Dr Jahirul Haque, divisional forest officer (DFO) in Tangail, said they have been conducting the drives following directives from the government.
The ongoing drive to recover the forestland will continue, he added.
Meanwhile, people from the Garo community formed a human chain at Pachish Mile area in the upazila yesterday, protesting the drive by the forest department on Monday.
While talking to the reporters, Eugin Nokrek said a sitting was supposed to take place between the local ethnic people and foresters today, but the foresters later fixed the date on September 24.