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Tuesday, September 23, 2014, Ashwin 8, 1421, Zilqad 27, 1435 Hijr

Govt blamed for 'step-motherly' attitude towards ethnic people
Special correspondent
Publish Date : 2014-09-23,  Publish Time : 00:00,  View Count : 124
The rights activists and civil society leaders have blamed the government officials for their 'step-motherly attitude' towards the indigenous communities for, what they said, failure to protect their rights guaranteed in the Constitution.
Civil society member Syed Abul Moqsud on Monday called for evolving a trust building effort between the adivasis (indigenous community) and the civil administration to establish the political will of the government.
There is need for an inclusive policy for the adivasi population in Bangladesh, the civil society leaders said at a press conference hosted by the Kapaeeng Foundation at Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) in the city.
The citizens group after touring Barguna and Patuakhali region and observing the habitation of Rakhaine adivasis, shared their observations and recommendations to the journalists at the press meet.
They also identified that the central problem was land issue. There is not a single family who does not have court litigation with land grabbers. The Rakhaine cannot collect their harvests from paddy field, even from their fish ponds, whereas, graveyards are forcibly being occupied, pushing them into abject poverty, says the press statement.
Robaet Ferdous, teacher of journalism of Dhaka University, said that it seems that the "state has withdrawn from the adivasis and be left to the mercy of the ruling class."
Robaet in his written statement penned a grim description of the present state of Rakhaine community in the coastal fringe of the southern region of Bangladesh.
The Rakhaine first arrived in the shores of Patuakhali and Barguna during the 17th century after shipwreck in storm in the Bay of Bengal while fleeing their troubled homeland in Arakan state in neighbouring Myanmar.
The number of Rakhaine villages were144 in Barguna and 93 in Patuakhali in 1948. Today the Rakhine habitation is limited to 13 villages only, lamented Robaet.
One temple in each six years vanished and in 2020 the last one of the Rakhaine will be gone, said Anurug Chakma, teacher of Peace of Conflict Studies, Dhaka University. In 1906 there were 19 Buddhist pagodas and today the number dwindled to only one temple, he said.
The government schools in the Rakhaine villages were forced to edify Islamiat instead of lessons on Buddhism and the officials argued that there is absence of Buddhist teachers in the region, the press statement said.
Columnist Abul Moqsud suggested to appointing Special Officer for indigenous community affairs to look after the welfare of the adivasis in Bangladesh.
He lamented that the District Commissioners (DC), Upazila Nirbahi Officers (UNO), Superintendents of Police (SP), Officers-in-Charge (OC) usually do not give audience to the adivasis when they seek their intervention during problem.
Others who spoke on the occasion were Sanjeeb Drong, general secretary, Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, Noman Ahmed Khan of IED, filmmaker Rashed Rhine and Chanchana Chakma of the Adivasi Nari Network.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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