Inquiry: 23 November 2011
Recently a leading group has been cutting down tree of betel jum from khasi punjee at Chalita Chara of Shreemangal Upazilla under Mouluvi Bazar Zilla. In relation with this happening sixty eight (68) indigenous families were evicted from two villages from Sreemangal Upazilla under Mouluvi Bazar Zilla, Shylet. A group of journalists and civil representatives were sent on 23 November 2011from Kapaeeng Foundation to visit Shylet Khasi Punjee with a purpose for media advocacy and fact finding. The persons who were sent from Kapaeeng Foundation for this purpose are as follows:
- Mr. Dipayan Khisa- Vice Chairman of Kapaeeng Foundation.
- Mr. Chanchana Chakma- Kapaeeng Foundation.
- Mr. Biplob Rahman- Journalist, Kaler Kantha.
- Mr. Noman Chowdhury- Journalist, Daily Sun.
- Ms. Jannatul Ferdousi- The Independent.
- Ms. Eva- Student (Germany).
- Mr. Ujjal Mehedi- Journalist and local representative of Shylet, Prothom Alo.
- Mr. Mintu Deswar- Journalist, Sheymal Shylet.
This group of journalist and civil representative had visited the following Khasi Punjee:
Name of Punjee: Nihar 2
Name of Community Leader: Fairly Surong(47)
Number of Family: 40.
Land: 250 acre.
In Nihar-2 after they have arrived, they were observing that, the punjees people had passing crucial time with fear. At first, they did not want to share about their dreadful news. They promised in their community that, they will not share anything to outside and go anywhere even though they will face eviction from their own homestead. For this reason they keep silence firstly in this regard.
After that, indigenous peoples from Khasi Community informed that, many trees selected from Aslam Punjee and Kailin Punjee for the purpose to cut down. To enlarge the area of tree garden this process had been carrying from past. Already around four thousand trees had engraved in different times. It has been learnt; in 1980 Nahar Tea Garden authority took 200 acre land for Nahar-1(Aslam Punjee) and 250 acre land for Nahar-2 (Kailin Punjee) settlement from Government which was hilly area and near to Border. But that time they did not farm tea trees in the desired land. Rather they resettled indigenous Khasi people to the lands and were taking annual rent from them. From 1980 they are residing there and developing betel jum on that land. During 2007 Aslam Punjee’s resettlement time had terminated and last October Kailin Punjee’s resettlement time has out.
Local indigenous people from Khasi Community said, before expire the designated time of resettlement Nahar Tea Garden authority take plan to enlarge the tea garden. For this cause in 2006 while they desired to cut trees that time Forestry Department prohibit them from their actions. Later than for the reason to cut down the weak and aged trees they had took approval from Forestry Department in 2008. For this action while the betel trees was injured with the help from organizations who are working for environment the indigenous people was able to ban the actions of the Nahar Tea Garden authority. While ‘BAPA’ seek help from High Court to look after about the matter on 24 May, 2010, the tree cutting process was stopped through legal notice. Although before notification the authority already cut nine thousand (9,000) trees from those two punjees. Now a day’s tea authority has selected trees for cutting. After visit those punjees the groups’ members who were sent from Kapaeeng have seen that, many trees colored with number.
Mantri of Kailin Khasi Punjee Mr. Fairly Surong stated, in past before cut dowm trees they selected trees in the same process with color and number. Even though the tea garden authority previously claimed they cut down only those trees which are weak and aged, but their argument was false.
BAPA, an organization who are working for environment expressed their concern in this regard again. Mr. Sharif who is Joint Secretary of BAPA said in Prothom Alo, indigenous people take caring the nature. For that, if indigenous people are evicted, in consequence it may affect on nature. To secure the nature, we are working for indigenous people.
Mr. Pijus Kanti Bhartacharjja, Manager of Nahar Tree Garden argued that, there is no intension of tea authority to cut down trees newly. To enlarge tea garden, the trees were selected earlier. Then the process was stopped after receiving notification from High Court. The numbering of trees with color was old. After decision from Court, the rest of trees may cut down.