Eviction of Indigenous People (IP) from their ancestral lands and set out their house on fire increased in recent times. Such clashes have often erupted between IPs and Bengali settlers in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and sometime happened with plain lands IPs. Grabbing of IPs land is alleged to be main cause of conflict in such areas. Latest, such clash over land happened in Habibpur village under Parbatipur upazila in Dinajpur district on 24 January, 2015. There was a longstanding dispute between Bengali’s and indigenous Santal communities over possessing land properties. Such clashes resulted bloody and troublesome incidences.
With a view to place the issue on discussion table, ALRD and Bangladesh Adivasi Forum jointly organized a roundtable discussion on “Evicting Indigenous People from their: Guarantee of Land Governance” at the Lounge of Dhaka Reporter’s Unity held on 16 February, 2015. A total of 145 participants from civil society, NGOs, CBOs and electronics and prints media were participated in the roundtable.
The program was presided over by ALRD Executive Director Shamsul Huda, while Oikya NAP President Pankaj Bhattacharya, Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Oikya Parishad General Secretary Rana Das Gupta, Bangladesh Adivasi Forum General Secretary Sanjeeb Drong and International Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission (CHTC) member and Executive Director of TIB Dr Iftekharuzzaman were also present. A paper was also presented by Associate Professor of Dhaka University Robayet Ferdous that depicted the recent land grabbing incidents and different communal attacks on the indigenous people.
Speakers’ said that the indigenous communities are a major victim of the land grabbers who take hold of their lands defying prescribed government rules. Referring to the earlier records, they alleged that the indigenous communities were being wiped out from their lands following forced evacuation by the land grabbers with the backing of the local administration. Participants and speakers at the discussion demanded the fulfillment of the peace accord to ensure transparency and accountability and avoid the culture of impunity both in the CHT and plains.