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Friday, August 03, 2012

Does the Land Com Act take appropriate shape after GoB commitment?

[Actually this post was uploaded on 31 July and reloaded today as this obstructs the management of the blog.]

 After a decade the GoB has finally decided to bring amendment to the contradictory CHT Land Dispute Disposal Commission Act, 2001 in the next Parliamentary session. The decision was taken yesterday at Bangladesh Secretariat in a meeting participated by CHT Affairs Ministry, Land Ministry, Law Ministry and the CHT Regional Council. Law minister, Land minister, MoCHTA state minister, Dr. Gouhar Rizvi (Adviser to the PM on foreign affairs), Raja Devasish Roy and CHTRC councilor Mr. GK Chakma were present in the meeting. A big team of GoB officials, including the Secretaries were also present in the meeting.

Prior to the expiry of Awami League Govt's 1st term (1996-2001) this Act was passed violating the CHT Regional Council and the Hill District Council Acts. According to these Acts the GoB is bound to talk to and consult with these statutory institutions before passing any Act on the CHT. The Awami League govt deliberately included some clauses in this Act in violation of CHT Accord of 1997. And, since then the battle started between the GoB and the CHTRC and the JSS.

 BNP Govt and the 2-year long army backed Caretaker Govt did not do anything to address the issue. And also the Awami League Govt did not play a fare role in the long 42 months. It has tried her best to avoid the amendment and also settle the land disputes through the most controversial Land Commission Chair, retired justice Khademul Islam. He has all thorough been active to settle land disputes to safeguard the interests of the settler Bengali Muslims. His treatment towards fellow commission members (CHTRC Chairman, 3 HDC Chairmen and 3 Circle Chiefs) has been like domination of a ‘superior’ where subordinates get mal-treatement.

Though it has been decided to amend the controversial clauses of the Act, still, we have every reason to express our sheer doubt, based on our previous experiences; if appropriate amendment is finally done. The powerful anti-CHT Accord force within the GoB had, in many cases, changed words and sentences of agreed decisions (minutes) according to their suits. If the amendment is done according to the agreed decision reached yesterday, still, the question lies whether the AL Govt is going to start the functioning of the Land Commission before the next general election. It can not be ruled that after passing the Act ‘properly’ the Awami League might pass time by quibbling and woo the Jumma people for election support. We have every reason to believe that if she gets back the state power she will keep the Land Commission aside, the way it has been done during this tenure and past one. Therefore, all concerned should be vigil and vocal so that the Act is amended properly and the GoB starts disposal of land disputes soon after the amendment in the next session.

[Above is a News item published in the Prothom Alo, Dhaka, page 21 on 31 July, 2012. It covers the 13-point amendment to the CHT Land Dispute Disposal Amendment Act, 2001, agreed in the meeting held yesterday.]

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