Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Chittagong Hill Tracts: India Urged to Raise Minority Issues


Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) urged the government of India to raise systematic persecution of the minorities and indigenous tribal peoples in the discussion with Bangladeshi Prime Minister Khaleda Zia who is on a three day visit to India.

The minority Hindus continue to be targeted as enemies under the Vested Properties Act. Prime Minister Khaleda Zia has shelved the Vested Properties Return Act brought by the Awami League government in 2001 and the lands and properties of Hindus continue to be seized by the government and the Bangladesh National Party leaders. The seized properties are also being sold by the authorities in clear violation of the law.

"The issue of illegal migration from Bangladesh cannot be addressed without addressing the Vested Properties Act as thousands of minority Hindus are being forced each year to leave Bangladesh . Millions of Hindus have fled to India in the last 20 years." - stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights.

Apart from serious and systematic human rights violations, the security forces and the illegal settlers from the plain districts have illegally seized lands belonging to indigenous Jumma peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

In 2005, the government has acquired 9,650 acres of land in Bandarban, affecting about 1,000 indigenous families; 11,446.24 acres of land in Sualok Union of Bandarban, uprooting 400 indigenous families; and 450 acres of land in Pujgang under Panchari Thana of Khagrachari district, among others, for military purposes. The government had also issued notices for acquisition of 45 acres of land in Babuchara under Dighinala Thana in Khagrachari district, affecting at least 74 Jumma families in three villages; about 183 acres of land in Balaghata in Bandarban district; 19,000 acres of land in Bandarban; 26,000 acres of land in Bandarban for military purposes.

The government reportedly acquired a total of 5,600 acres of land in Chimbuk of Bandarban for construction of an Eco Park.

The government also started a process to acquire 5,500 acres of land in Sangu Mouza of Bandarban district for animal sanctuary; and 40,071 acres of land in Lama, Nikkyong Cahri , Alikadam and Bandarban Sadar for rubber and tea plantation by private individuals.

"The government of India has the responsibility to raise these issues as it directly affects the security issues which it has been seeking to address" - stated ACHR. #

Source: Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR)