Dhaka – Bengali settlers have called a 48-hour strike in Chittagong Hill Tracts for Thursday asking the government to revise a law enacted to end disputes over land in the hilly south-eastern part of Bangladesh.
A combine of settlers’ organization enforced the stoppage in Rangamati, Bandarban and Khagrachhari hill districts that accounts for one-tenth of Bangladesh’s land area and home to ethnic groups.
Akkas Al Mamun, convener of the combine, said the government’s move to the changes of Land Commission Act goes totally against interests of the Bangalee settlers.
Battered by a bush-war for nearly two decades by the ethnic minority groups to establish self rule, the CHT was being dominated by traditional customs in terms of land allocation. The conflict ended after the signing of a peace deal in 1997.
Many people from plain land settled in the area, which was also ruled by a special regulation promulgated in 1900, making the land distribution system complex, especially after the peace agreement. And the government has been trying to bury the conflicts taking into consideration the ethnic minority’s concerns in line with the 1997 treaty.
The settler leader said that the shutdown comes into force mainly to protest the government’s decision on land reforms.
“The strike will continue until our demands are fulfilled,” said Mamun.
No vehicle was seen plying on the roads in those districts, while no long-route bus also left the district towns. No untoward incident, however, has been reported.
Parbataya Nagarik Parishad, Parbataya Bangali Chhatra Parishad, Parbataya Samaodhikar Andolon, Parbataya Gano Parishad and Parbataya Bangalee Chhatra Oikyo Parishad have called the shutdown on Wednesday.
On August 1, the cabinet cleared the draft of the ‘Chittagong Hill Tracts Land Dispute Resolution Commission (Amendment) Act, 2016′ curtailing the discretionary power of the commission’s chairman in decision making, aiming to put an end to land disputes in the CHT.