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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Land Commission's task in CHT termed eyewash

Courtesy: the Daily Star, Dhaka, Wednesday, June 30, 2010,

Land Commission's task in CHT termed eyewash

Our Correspondent, Rangamati

Leaders of Parbatya Chattagram Nagorik Committee, a civil society body of indigenous leaders in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), have demanded postponement of the ongoing tasks by the CHT Land Disputes Resolution Commission (CHTLDRC) until amendment to the commission in line with the CHT peace deal.

The hill people will never be benefited if the commission is run in the present way,
the indigenous leaders said at a press conference at Roof Restaurant at Banarupa in the town yesterday.

Blaming the Land Commission Chairman Justice Khademul Islam Chowdhury for running the commission activities 'on his unilateral decision' they also demanded his removal from the post.

As per the CHT accord, first work of the commission is to settle the land disputes of ethnic people who returned back from India as well as internally displaced jummo people, and cancellation of illegally provided settlement in hills but the work sees hardly any progress, they said.

Committee president Goutam Dewan, also ex-chairman of Rangamati Local Government Council, committee secretary Jasheswar Chakma, member advocate Gayanendu Bikash Chakma, Anjulika Khisa, Prakriti Ranjan Chakma, Bijoy Keton Chakma, municipality councilor Mohti Chakma and Bodhi Satta Chakma spoke at the conference.

Terming the Land Commission's ongoing activities as 'eyewash', they said the commission chairman is carrying out its activities bypassing the indigenous leaders, those who are the members of the commission.

Land disputes in hills cannot be resolved if the indigenous leaders who represent the ethnic people remain absent from the commission meetings, they said.
Secretary of the commission recently circulated public notice for two times for submission of applications by the affected people but it was done without any decision from the commission meeting, the indigenous leaders said.

As people are very confused about the matter, there was very little response to the call for submission of applications about disputed lands while most of the people who submitted applications are Bangali settlers, they said.

Earlier, a procession of Parbatya Chattagram Nagorik Committee went from district Shilpakala Academy to the DC office.

The indigenous leaders submitted a memorandum to the prime minister through Rangamati deputy commissioner urging realisation of their seven-point demand.
The demands include removal of land commission Chairman Justice Khademul and appointment of a 'progressive minded' justice to the post, postponement of all activities of the commission until the CHTLDRC Act 2001 is amended in line with provisions of the CHT peace deal, appointment of an indigenous person as commission secretary, enactment of new laws to establish the traditional land rights of the ethnic people.

The government on July 19 last year appointed Justice Khademul as chairman of the Land Commission.

New office of the commission was set up at Khagrachhari on March 14 this year.

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