Bangladesh’s ethnic minorities lose land: survey

May 11th, 2008 - 2:38 pm ICT by admin  

Dhaka, May 11 (IANS) Bangladesh’s ethnic minority communities, mainly Buddhist tribals, continue to be thrown out of their ancestral land, allegedly by government agencies, influential people and private organisations, a survey revealed. Researchers and experts say that the fate of over 1.5 million indigenous people, who represent 58 small and large groups living in hilly and plain land across the country, is almost same.

The land of poor ethnic minority people were being grabbed by a section of influential people using different methods, including forged documents and forcibly ousting them from their land while the government was expropriating their land for various development projects.

Land acquisition by the government for its so-called social forestation has made the highest number of ethnic minority families landless in the north-western areas, where a group of researchers conducted the survey on the state of land rights of indigenous people, who have long been rallying for recognition of their constitutional rights.

The survey, conducted jointly by the Jatiya Adibashi Parishad, Incidin Bangladesh and Jahangirnagar University’s department of anthropology, since January this year, said the government hardly paid any heed to the causes and miseries of the communities, New Age newspaper said Sunday.

The preliminary result of the study showed that a total of 1,983 ethnic minority families in 10 north-western districts lost control over 1,748.36 acres of land in the last few years.

The forest department grabbed the largest area of 1,185.76 acres, followed by 356.7 acres by different influential quarters who evicted the rightful owners from their ancestral land by forging documents.

Land used as common property, graveyards and shrines were also grabbed, said the study.

Releasing findings of the survey Saturday, Parishad secretary-general Rabindra Saren urged the government to form an effective land commission to settle the disputes and rehabilitate the indigenous people who were evicted from their land.

Habibur Rahman, a former chief of the country’s caretaker government, pointed to similar disputes in many countries like Canada, United States and Australia.

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