Bangladesh: Eviction Notice Issued to Indigenous Khasi People in Nahar Punji

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    Moulvibazar district administration has issued a notice to indigenous Khasi people to move from their ancestral land Mv Nahar Punji of Sreemangal upazila in Moulvibazar district. On 30 May 2016 a notice record no. 05.46.5800.015.100.03.15–350(3) issued directed the Khasi people to leave Nahar Punji within 12 June 2016. The notice alleged that Khasi people have been illegally farming pan (betel leaf) by illegally occupying government land.

    The notice says that if they fail to leave the land possession or refused to do so, then Deputy Commissioner of Moulvibazar district appointed executive magistrate with the presence of police force will evict them from the land and will take the possession under the government.

    There are more than 700 indigenous Khasi and Garo families living in bordering Nahar-1 Khasi Punji, a land of 200 acres and Nahar-2 Khasi Punji, a land of 250 acres, for decades. Now they are passing everyday in fear of eviction.

    Khasi people have been living in this land for long and they have been cultivating betel leaf in traditional way. Their livelihood totally depends on betel leaf cultivation. But this eviction notice will impact in their life and culture. If any initiative would not take, the indigenous people will lose their land and evict from their ancestral land forever.

    Moreover Khasi people have been living on their ancestors land and paying taxes to the Union Parishad from many years. They started living there before Nahar Tea Estate was set up. The owner of Nahar Tea Estate took the lease of the land from government and set up the tea estate near to the Nahar Khasi Punji. But recently with intention to expand the tea estate, authority are conspiring to evict the indigenous Khasi peoples to grab their land. In 2014 tea state authority attacked Khasi people and many were injured that time. Following several protests has been organized against this incident.

    Civic rights groups with assistance of Kapaeeng Foundation and Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum visited the spot several times. On 6 December 2014 civic rights groups demanded immediate arrest of the persons who were involved with attacks upon indigenous Khasis of Nahar-1 (Aslom) Punji in a press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity in Dhaka after the visit. They also demanded withdrawal of all the false cases against the victim Khasis, return of 400 acres of forest land belonging to them, and demarcation of the area of the tea estates in the country and government should take necessary steps for ensuring their traditional livelihood.

    Click here to download Notification Document.