Victims of land grabbing in hills and plain lands on Sunday alleged that their lands were grabbed either by law enforcement agencies or by influential quarters due to inaction of the administration.
They expressed their helplessness and utter anxiety in a seminar on ‘Land grabs in Bangladesh: diversity of objectives and mechanism’ organised by Association for Land Reform and Development at National Press Club in the capital.
The seminar was organised to present an article of economist Shapan Adnan based on his recently conducted research on land grabbing in the country.
Shapan showed that land grabs were happening in four ways –using force directly, using force indirectly, without using force directly and without using force indirectly.
But, in almost all cases, he showed, the powerful quarters ensured triumph over weaker quarters, irrespective of their ethnicity, religion or castes.
He, referring to instances from across the country, showed that the state, law enforcement agencies, a section of religious and national groups, powerful financial and social class, business companies and corporations, business non-government organisations, political influential, goons and criminal mafia appeared to be land grabbers.
More than one actor was active in grabbing lands of the weaker ones, he showed.
Speaking on the article, economist MM Akash said that in almost all cases of land grabbing, the victims try to resist and protect their lands and in most cases the grabbers win.
Kiron Chakma of Dighinala in the hill district of Khagrachari said his family was among 21 indigenous families who were evicted from their ancestral homes on May 10, 2014 by Border Guard Bangladesh.
‘We were neither compensated, nor rehabilitated. We have been passing inhuman life,’ he said, questioning the justification of constructing BGB office at Dighinala, more than 50 kilometres away from the border.
Virjilius Hembrom, a member of Santal ethnicity at Shahebganj-Bagda Farm of Rangpur Sugar Mills at Gobindaganj in Gaibandha, alleged that over 1,500 families, mostly ethnic minorities, were evicted from their ancestral farmland during raids by goons and police.
‘All of our shanties were burnt and later we saw on television that policemen burnt our houses,’ he said.
Leaders and activists of all political parties, members of law enforcing agencies and local goons joined hands in grabbing lands of about 150 people by a land developer company at the capital’s Uttarkhan, alleged Md Aftab Uddin of Uttarkhan.
‘We lost all our lands overnight. We have all the documents of ownership of the lands and they (land developing company) have nothing. But we got no justice,’ he said.
Schoolteacher Rabeya Akhter of village Shailat under Shripur in Gazipur alleged that a company named MS Total Care Platinum Limited on April 21, 2017 grabbed her 21 decimals of land she bought in her village.
As her son protested, the grabbers caught him and took him away to their office and tortured him, she alleged, adding that her land was among 203 acres of land of 167 villagers grabbed by the company.
‘I went to the police on the day and the following day to lodge case but police even did not take a general diary in this connection,’ she alleged.
‘I seek justice. I want back my land,’ she said in an emotion-choked voice.
Presided over by Nijera Kori coordinator Khushi Kabir, the seminar was also addressed by BIDS’ former senior research fellow Bimol Kumar Saha, ALRD executive director Shamsul Huda and land grabbing victims – Enayetullah Molla of Sonargaon in Narayanganj, Md Abdur Rafique of Harina under Rupganj in Narayanganj and Ajay Mri of Madhupur forest in Tangail.
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