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While the Indo-Bangla bilateral relations are moving in a positive direction with the inking of so many deals, the plight of the indigenous people (Khasis) living in Bangladesh is however something which needs attention.
It was reported in a local Bangladesh newspaper that many indigenous men living in eight border villages in Kulaura upazila, Bangladesh are forced to leave their homes out of fear.
As was reported, the situation in the villages is tense as indigenous people (Khasis) living in Bangladesh are living in fear of being harassed or killed following the death of one local farmer — Rimon Miah at Mamoni punjee in Kulaura, Bangladesh on Monday morning.
It may be mentioned that this is not the first time that indigenous people living in Bangladesh are passing out their days amid fear. Last year, the indigenous Khasi people were asked to move from their ancestral land at Nahar Punji of Srimangal upazila in Moulvibazar by the district administration. A sense of fear was instilled in the hearts and minds of more than 700 Khasi people. The Khasis are passing each moment with distress and worries.
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.
Following the incident, the indigenous people alleged that their daily livelihood has been compromised after a threat was issued supposedly by local non-indigenous community people who prevented them from purchasing betel leaf in the villages well-known for punjees (betel plantations).
Speaking to TNT-The Northeast Today, publicity secretary of KSU Bangladesh – Sylhet Marcus Lamin said that he has been receiving calls from the people living in those villages which are inhabited by only women and children as the men have left the village out of fear, that they are currently living in fear and distress.
It was reported that whenever such incidents happen, police raids would swiftly follow; men would leave the villages for fear of harassment.
Assurance have also been given by the officer-in-charge of Kulaura Police Station, Md Shamsuddoha, who asked the people to calm down stating that police are investigation is underway and the guilty will be punished.
"We will organize and join human chain, meetings, seminar for Nahar. But this time, it is difficult for us to visit the affected villages because if any Khasi people are seen in the local market or near- by places, they will be attacked. As of now, the situation is tense," Lamin said.
"We have apprised the matter to the local government but to no avail. Our demands fell on deaf ears," Lamin said.
Earlier, the eviction drive issued by the district administration in Bangladesh last year had triggered anger amongst social organisations and political parties in Meghalaya and the matter was taken up at the central level.
Alongside the other minority groups in Bangladesh, Khasi ethnicity is the one of the oldest. As per records, there are more than 30, 000 Khasis living in Bangladesh. Before partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, Khasi people belonged to one country. After partition, majority of Khasi live in India, and the rest in Bangladesh.