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Satkhira is a district of SouthWest Coastal Region of Bangladesh. Debhata is a thana situated about 20 kilometers further south of the district headquarters. From here, a few kilometers ahead along a rough unmetalled road, lie sporadically scattered some villages namely Jhaiamari. Norar charkuni. Kalabria, Dhebukhali. Bhanganmari (East-west). Katmahal. Kaminibasu and Bahurabad of Nalta and Noapara Unions. These villages of Nalta and Noapara Unions. stand along the borderline of Debhata and Kaliganj. These nine villages of Debhata and Kaliganj are inhabited by twelve hundred landless families.

These villages are markedly different from other traditional villages of Bangladesh. Green fruit bearing trees are seldom seen here. Bush of dholkolmi and withering cactus, scattered around the homestead, are some of locally available plant species. Prolonged shrimp culture in the paddy lands through saline irrigation has totally damaged green vegetation of this region and adversely affected the environment. Thoroughfares through these villages are narrow and muddy , flooded with saline water and covered with patchy clays mixed with numerous tiny snails.

The conflict centers around the possession of 3178 acres of khas land of this region. An influential section of Satkhira managed of take a part of this land on lease as Jalmahal’ in 1998 under direct patronage of Govt. administration . ft is the influential section , who is behind this eviction move. Assaults unleashed time to time on these poor and helpless landless, were all aimed at materialization of this eviction process. Administration. police force and hired hands of lease holders- all took part simultaneously in this systematic onslaught on the landless. Bereft of all human amenities, with no drinking water in such a vast area, with no school for their children, with sick latrines hanging by the canal side and no medical facilities - these people some how hang on to their lives. Surrounded by saline water, their homesteads stand on a small slice of land. Inspire of all these, the landless people keep on clinging to their land as the last resort to have a tiny shade over their head and they had to pay for it in blood. warm and fresh, oozing out of their hearts. Zaeda. a landless woman was killed in police firing and two innocent babies also met with the same fate.

The Govt. administration, hand in hand with the rich stratum of the society, has stood directly against these poor and helpless landless people. The police administration, so-called care-taker of law and order, did not at all hesitate to go for ruthless repression. No state, no constitution could come to their rescue. Resorting to the complex tricks of existing laws, the vested interest have taken all out initiative for eviction of the landless.

Hidden story behind the khas land: Background of the movement
The conspiracy centering around 3 178 acres of khas land of Dehhata and Kaliganj has started almost half a century hack. 2238 acres of land of Swarnoker family and 940 acres of land of Monotosh Bra of Debishahar, turned khash with promulgation of state tenancy Act. But the original owners of land, taking advantage of the weakness inherent in the law, continued enjoying possession right in the name of ‘Debishahar Agrifish Farming Co-operative Ltd’ in short, ‘Debishahar Co-operative Society’. Later on, the Govt. again took the initiative to bring the land under khash khatian. But ‘Debishahar Society’ sued in the court of law against this move. Starting from the court of sub-judge to the Supreme Court, the case continued for a few decades and ultimately in 1982, through a decree of Supreme court ‘Debishahar Society’ lost its possession right and the land turned khash again. In the mean time, in 1972, the original owner of the land Anil Swarnakar of ‘Swarnakar Family’, fell victim to a conspiracy and was brutally murdered. Thence forth, Mani Thakur, an employee of Anil Swarnakar became head of the ‘Society’. He in collaboration with a few persons of the locality started enjoying possession right of the land. In 1982, the land being brought under khash khatian, the Govt. started issuing DCR on yearly basis and the process of leascing out land to the landless started. Since then the landless started settling on these lands. But in 1983 the conspirators in a bid to deprive the landless, influenced the local administration and managed to get a declaration issued from the higher authority turning the agricultural khas land into ‘Jalmahal’S. But as per CS/SA records, these lands are in reality cultivable agricultural lands. After dedlaration of iJal Mahali in 1985, instead of issueing DCR, the process of leasing the land on yearly basis started and the persons like Moni Thakur, Mansur Ahmed, Salamatullah Gazi, Subhash Ghosh, Karim Par, Raushan Mir and Rahim Par took advantage of it. These persons in their own name or in pseudonym managed to get hold of these land on lease for one year and started enjoying the possession right.

Side by side, they started grabbing the land through forged and fabricated deeds and documents in their own name or in pseudonym. This way, excepting 1660 acres of land which was leased in 1998 and 496 acres of land for which DCR was issued to the landless, the rest 1022 acres of land slipped out of Govtis grip.

On the otherhand an official survey was conducted in the area in the period 1989-90. The survey report recognized the settlers on these lands to be genuinely landless. In their reports TNOs of Debhata and Kaliganj earmarked those lands as cultivable khash land and recommended allotment of 10 kathas (0.5 acres) of land for homestead and I acre for cultivation, in total 3 ½ bighas (1.5 acres) of land per landless family. At the same time the then DC of Satkhira gave assurance of allotment of land to the landless. The assurance encouraged and lured more landless to settle in that area. That time nobody raised any objection or offered any resistance to them. Rather the question of allotment of land to the landless emerged as a burning issue and forced itself at the top of the agenda.

Later on 496 landless families were allotted I acre of land each under permanent settlement and rehabilitated in two villages-208 families in “Atshotobigha” and 288 in ‘Norarabad’ village.

The process tumbled half way due to conspiracies hatched by the conspirators and a plan for eviction of the landless of other areas were chalked out by the administration. But the move failed.

Subsequently the landless sued in the court of law for a decree on possession of land and withholding lease move. The lease move were temporarily held up from 1993-1997 for this legal suit .Bangladesh Govt. appealed to the Supreme Court and the landless were defeated. Soon after, the lands were again leased out in 1998 giving rise to so many incidents.

Characteristics of land of disputed areas of Debhata and Kailiganj:
The disputed areas of Debehata and Kaliganj of Satkhira district belong to the South-West Coastal zone, having a land formation process characteristically different from other regions of Bangladesh. This region has been formed through deposition of silt carried by the Ganges. River -carried silts obstructed by tide flows back upward and settles in the depressed regions of both the banks. Thus the low lands gradually gain height and emerge as new lands. In this region no question of land formation does arise without tide and silts. The people of this region developed a mode of living and cultivation system harmonious with the geo-physical characteristics of this region. Cultivation of paddy and open water fishery were two principal means of peoples livelihood here. This region was abundant in fishes and many salinity and flood tolerant rice species. In spite of all adversities there was no deficit of food in this region. But some human interventions inconsistent with ecological characteristics of the region exerted adverse effects on traditional agriculture and fish culture.

Interventions inconsistent with geo-physical characteristic:
in the decade of sixties, “Grow more food’ campaign was launched under the banner of Green Revolution”. To enhance agricultural production through extension of agricultural land and irrigation system, use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, cultivation of HYV of cereals was introduced.

To the utter disregard of geo-physical and ecological characteristics of this region, in the decade of sixties, Coastal Embankment Project (CEP) was implemented with the help of International Development Agency of USA. This project was aimed at safeguarding homesteads and agricultural land of coastal people from salinity, tidal waves and flood.

In the first phase of the project 4000km of embankment and 780 numbers of sluice gates of 92 polders were constructed. The work of 1st phase completed within the period of 1960-67.

In Khulna zone 1500 kms of embankment and 282 numbers sluice gates of 37 polders were constructed. Within first decade of post implementation period agricultural production increased tremendously. But gradually negative impacts on environment ,ecology and socio-economic systems became more and more prominent.

1. Environmental Impact:
Tidal prism shrinks, silt deposit in the river bed affects navigability and obstructs natural drainage system giving rise to water logging problem.

2. Ecological Impact:
a. Shrinkage of habitats of fish and other aquatic animals.
b. Extinction of many indigenous rice species.
c. Negative impacts on the Sunderbans.

3. Socio-economic impact:
a. Adverse effects on agriculture due to water logging. Farmers are displaced from home and profession.

b. With the introduction of large-scale shrimp farming farmers stall losing their land.

For a better understanding of socio-economic reality and specific ecological features of this region, one must follow and have a good grasp of impacts of the major human interventions (Coastal Embankment Projects) and newly adopted large scale shrimp farming process on overall ecosystem of the region.

Motivated declaration transforming agricultural land into ‘Jal mahal’:
Motive of the vested interest behind this declaration is to grab the land. If the land be retained as agriculrtural land, the landless may get it and it would be difficult for the conspirators to grab them. On getting the declaration of ‘Jalmahal’ through manipulation. Moni Thakur and Co, in their own name or in pseudonym, managed to take the land on lease every year and grab some land through forged and fabricated documents. These influential sections have already brought 515 acres out of 3178 acres of land under their possession on the basis of forged documents in favour of different persons including their relatives. They did it in close collaboration with local administration. Some people have already been arrested on the charge of misappropriation of Govt. property through forgery. The court has inflicted some of them with punishment of different terms. But the fact remains, even the convited were not aware of the incidence of forgery they had been charged with. Because some body managed to execute registered deeds in their favor keeping them completely in the dark. Though deeds have been forged for 5 15 acres of land, but actual quantity brought under illegal possession is even more.

Lack of legal awareness amongst the landless:
The landless took shelter of the law to safeguard their lands under possession time to time but they failed to carry through to a successful ending. Initially they pursued a wrong line of action. They sued for with holding lease tender and getting allotment of lands as ‘ial Mahal’. But they were very late to approach the court for a proclamation transforming the
fraudulently declared 'Jal Mahal’ to cultivable agricultural land again. They took this legal move last April 1998 and the honorable court served a show-cause notice oii the Govt. May I 3th last.

Unlimited administrative corruption in lease of ‘Jalmahal!’:
1. In 1990, revenue earning from 7 ‘Jal Mahal’s was TK 53 lacs and 66 thousand.

2. In 1992, revenue earning from 9 Jal Mahal’s was TK 1 crore, 7 lacs, 10 thousand and 500.

3. In 1991, revenue earning from 9 'Ja1 Mahal’s was Tk 85 lacs and 33 thonsand.

4. In 1993, revenue earning from 9 ‘Jal Mahal’s was TK 1 crore,
26 lacs, 20 thousand and 727.

5. Jal Mahal’s could not be leaned due to legal lease from 1994-97.

6. In 1998 district administration, for 8 ‘Jal Mahal’s excepting Katmahal, fixed a revenue earning target of TK 1 crore, 54 lacs, 57 thonsand and 412.

7. Rate quoted in the negotiated tender of 14/3/98 was only TK
38 lacs and 25 thousand.

It needs do be mentioned that before 14/3/98 those 8 ‘Jal Mahal’s were put on tender thrice. No body could participate in the first two tenders due to secret negotiation, pressure and threats. 3rd and 4th tenders were contested also under negotiation. An influential section purchased all the schedules. All the bank drafts were procured from JFIC hank by a single person who submitted the tenders in different names.

The tenders were quoted at a nominal rate. But these cultivable khasland which have been tendered as iialmahali by local administration actually fell in the grip of Mani Thakur, Ban Molla, Salamatulla, Karim par, Rahim par, Mansur Ahmed, and Khalillula jam. These people are the real actors behind the screen. Collectively those people managed the tender ehind the scene. The facts became quite clear through their active participation in the eviction move.

In a bid to hand over the possession of so-called 'JaI Mahal’s to the owner of the tenders fraudulently managed and manipulated through unlimited corruption, the local administration launched this eviction move in villages of Debhata and Kaligang.

The police forces in close collaboration with the hired lathialis of the influential groups, inhumanly ran rough shod over the innocent landless in such a systematically engineered eviction campaign.

Sequence of Events:
10th May ‘98: At 11. A.M. ADC (Revenue) Mr. Farque Ahmed, ASP
Circle of Kaliganj, two magistrates, TNOs and OCs of two concerned thanas, along with two to three hundred of riot police force, reached Dhebukhali of Debhata thana to evict the landless in the name of handing over possession of ‘Jal Mahal’ to the lessee. For the helpless landless people, it was a bolt from the blue. Bewildered and grief-stricken the wretched people irrespective of gender and age burst into tears and entreated the administration not to evict them. But in vain, the influential lessee, with the help of their hired armed goons demolished more than two hundred landless house holds. The administration denied the authenticity of this campaign. As they claimed they had simply handed over possession of the ‘Jal Mahals’ only to the lessee.

11th May ‘98: At 10 A.M About 300 hired ‘Lathials’ Simultaneously raided different 'Jal Mahalsi of Kaliganj thana armed with Iron rods, sticks, axes and various other lethal weapons. They forcefuly ransacked house holds of the landless. When the landless tried to resist them the hooligans beat them up indiscriminately. At least 50 persons including 15 women were wounded in an encounter on the embankment at Jhiamari. Some Barkatulla, a hired hand, captured by the landless during encounter confessed under pressure of the masses that, he along with 300 others had been sent by Mr. Moni Mukherji, Ex UP Chairman to evict the landless on contract at the rate Tk 150 each.

12th May ‘98: Hired Lathials’ of the lease holders ransacked and set fire to the house holds of the landless. Three days of continuons attack rendered almost three thousand people homeless. They were compelled to take shelter under the open sky on the embankment of WAPDA. The barbarism did not even spare the mother with her newly born baby. The very day. the ‘Citizen’s Forum of Satkhira’ for the first time arranged a meeting at Shahid Alauddin Square in protest against these savage acts. The meeting strongly condemned such brutal and savage repressive action. 13th May ‘98: ‘Landless Eviction Resistance Committee’ was formed with Mr.Ahdul Gani, chairman, U.P Noapara as convener to counter the eviction move against 1200 landless families of Bahurabad. Dhehukhali. Kaniin i hasu. Kalaharia. Katmahal, and Bhanganrnari villages of Kaliganj. and Dehhata Thanas.

14th May ‘98: Khushi Kabir, chairperson, ALRD and coord,iator of ‘Ni jera Kari’ paid a visit to the place of occurence at Dehhata and Kaliganj for appraisal of the existing situation.

* An enquiry team headed by the additional police commissioner was formed to investigate the incidence which turned 500 landless families homeless and alleged police collaboration with hired hands of lease holders on the plea of handing over possession of 8 ‘JaI Mahal’

* “Satkhira Bhumihin Samity” an organisation of the landless brought out a mass procession in protest against the eviction move and frenzied atrocities on the landless.

* “Landless Eviction Resistance Committee” organized a huge public meeting at Gazir hat to condemn such acts of looting, ransack and fire setting aimed at the eviction of landless. The meeting extended an open call to the Prime Minister to visit the affected areas personally and see the situation herself. The meeting adopted a resolution with following demands.
i) Immediate rehabilitation of the evicted.
ii) Withdrawal of police cases fabricated against the landless.
iii) Removal of concerned corrupt Govt. officials involved in the incidence.
iv) Immediate arrest, trial and conviction of the criminals involved in the incidence.

The meeting was presided over by Mr. Abdul Gani and addressed by the following distinguished personalities.

I. Mrs. Khushi Kabir, Co-ordinator  iNijera karii.

2. Mr. Shahdat Hussain, MP Kaliganj~Debhata.

3. Mr.AbdurRahini, A veteran Politician of Satkhira district.

4. Mr.Saifulla Laskar, A peasant Leader.

5. Mr.Kazi Saidur Rahrnan.

15th May ‘98: The police arrested two persons. Mr. Pranhallav Mondal of charkhali and Md. Moyezuddin of Kalaharia, on the charge of assaulting day laborers of the lease holders during taking over possession of the land.

16th May ‘98: 'Satkhira Citizen’s Forum’ organized a meeting at 'Shahid Alauddin Square’ to protest the repression on the landless. The meeting was presided over by the peasant leader Saifullah Laskar and addressed by Mr. Abdur Rahim a senior political personality and leader of the landless Mr. KausarAli.

17th May ‘98: A memorandum was submitted to the Prime Minister demanding immediate cessation of eviction move and all repressive measures in this connection. The following are some of the key demands put forward in the memorandum.

* Immediate cessation of all repressive measures aimed at eviction of the landless.

* Withdrawal of all fictitious cases, Immediate cessation of police harassment and release of the persons taken into custody.

* Immediate relief and rehabilitation of the victims.

*  Conducting Judicial enquiry into the incidence and conviction of persons at fault.

18th May ‘98: Syed Kamal Bakht, MP visited the place of occurrence and issued a statement in a press conference accusing local administration for the incidence.

19th May ‘98: A team of representatives of different NGOs inspected the place of occurrence and arranged a press conference at Satkhira press club. In the conference they categorically accused the administration, police and vested interests of instigation and collusion which led to the incidences of 10th, 11th and 12th May. The press conference was addressed by Mr. Shahidul Islam, and were attended by Kazi Wahiduzzaman, AhuI Hossain, Ashraf-ul- Alam tutu and others.

2Ith May ‘98: 5 points demand was tabled in the press conference on behalf of Resistance Action Committee
i) Cancellation of tenders.

ii) Nullifying the declaration of ~Ja1mahal’ and fresh declaration as agricultural land.

iii) Compensation and rehabilitation of the victims.

iv) Judicial enquiry and conviction of the persons at fault.

V) Withdrawal of cases fabricated for harassment and release of the persons under custody.

22 th  May ‘98: Ex. Minister Mr. Mansur Ali in a press conference arranged by BNP charged Awami Leage leaders Mr. Mansur Ahmed and Mani Thakur, directly with illegal occupation of 196.30 Acres of Bhanganmari, 60 acres of land of Jhiamari and 108.28 acres of land of Baburabad. In the conference he demanded immediate relief, rehabilitation of landless and cessation of harassment on fabricated charges.

24th May ‘98: Different newspapers published the news apprehending fresh attack on the landless for eviction.

25th May ‘98: A mass pettition reflecting helplessness of the landless people and containing 5 points demand was submitted to the Honarable Prime Minster duly Signed by 1400 signatories of the locality.

* On the otherhand, just a few hours after an order to stop the violence against the landless and make proper enquiry into the incidence has been issued by the Home Ministry, 78 households of landless families of Kalabaria were looted by the miscreants. Looting and raid continued through out the night on the plea of arresting the accused in presence of the police. The same day, at 12.0 clock at night a group of 8 numbers of armed police in plain clothes and 50/60 numbers of hooligans armed with lethal weapons under leadership of police Subeder ldris Molla, raided Kalabaria village.

They indiscriminately looted rice, pulses, clothes, utensils and other daily necessaries of landless house holds. That time the police took three persons named. Wazed, Rafiqul and Taleb under custody.

27th May ‘98: In the context of fresh attacks on the landless ADAB solicited direct interervention by the Home Minister.

Satkhira Citizen’s Forum organized a meeting to protest against 4th raid launched on Kalabaria of Debhata Kaliganj late at night on 25th May, the meeting demanded release of 7 persons under custody, rehabilitation of the distressed and taking action against the hooligans as per law. DIG Khulna Division, Alhazz Hadis uddin ordered to close all the members of Debishahar police camp on the charge of active involvement in the incidence of 25th night.

28th May ‘98: A meeting was held in Khulna to counter eviction of the landless of Debhata Kaliganj . In the meeting a committee called Solidarity Committee for the Resistance of the Eviction of the Landless’ was formed to help the landless with Mr. Firoze Ahmed as convener, and Ashraf-ul-- Alani tutu was given responsibility as member secretary.

30th May ‘98: ‘Bhumihin uchhed Protirodh committee’ (The committee for resisting the eviction of landless) organized a meeting and mass procession in protest against the eviction move.

* Mr. Syed Karnal Bakt MP, addressed a press conference in Dhaka, in which he denied authenticity of barbarous attack on the landless, Mr. Mansur Ahmed, ex MP and general secretary of Satkhira district Awanii League was also present in the conference.

1st June ‘98: JSD Organized a mass meeting at Gazirhat to protest the eviction move.

2nd June ‘98: A protest gathering chaired by Adv. Firoj Ahmed was organised in Khulna city, addressed by Kazi Wahiduzzaman, Ashraf -ul-Alam tutu, Salahuddin Runu, Adv. Abdullah Hossain, Adv. Manjurul Alam etc.

3th June ‘98: Departmental action was taken against 4 constables inclusding Subeder Ldris All of Debishahar camp for their involvement in the incidence of 25th night at Kalabaria.

4th june ‘98: ~Zilla Bashtuhara Samity’ (Landless organization of Satkhira) of Satkhira arranged a meeting at Satkhira New Market.

7th june ‘98: Six hours blockade of Satkhira-Kaliganj high way to press for the demands of cancellation of lease and legal action against the persons inolved in looting and time to time attacks on the landless.
8th June ‘98: Mr. Rashed Khan Menon, general secretary along with Mr. Azizur Rahman, central committee member of Worker’s Party of Bangladesh visited the eviction zone. He called for judicial enquiry into such medieval barbarism of administration and hired hands, cancellation of lease and distribution of lands aniongst the landless.

*An enquiry team consisting of 5 members was formed by the land ministry to investigate the incidence of assault on landless, May 25th, at night, Joint Secretary (Admm), land ministry, Divisional commissioner, Khulna Division. Deputy Director, Fisheries, Khulna, one NGO and one public representative were decided to he members of the committee.

10th June ‘98: At about 8. PM Mr. Abdur Rasliid, secretary of ‘Satkhira
Bhumihin Samity’ was heateii mercilessly by some unknown miscreants.
He was admitted to Satkhira Hospital for treatment.

I6 th June ‘98: One 11-member steering Committee aiid one 71- member Land less Eviction Resistance Co-ordination Committee’ were formed out of the organisations and individuals, united and integrated with the struggle for realization of legitimate rights of the landless at the call of ‘Satkhira Citizen’s Forum’.

The leaders of Khulna Solidarity committee played important role to unite the forces. Kazi Wahiduzzaman, Dr Baharal Alani, Adv. Firoz Ahamed, Ashraf -ul- Alam tutu, Haider Gazi Salahuddin Runu, were attended the meeting.

20th June ‘98: ‘Soldierly Committee of Khulna for the Resistance of the eviction of the landless’ took the initiative for a consultative meeting of different peasant organisations for mutual exchange of views.

23 th June ‘98: Members ‘Slidarity Committee of Khulna’ and ‘Coordination committee of Satkhira’ visited the place of occurrence at Debhata and Kaliganj.

* The leaders of ‘Landless Eviction Resistance Co-ordination Committee’ and “Solidarity Committee” in a meeting at Baburabad Market called every landless household for general alertness and stand by readiness tightening the grip on sticks to thwart any possible attack. The meeting was addressed by Sahadat Hossain MP, Ashraf -ul- Alam tutu, Ahul Kalam Azad. Saifullah laskor, SK Abdul Jalil. Salim Akther Swapan, Khan Bazlur Rahman, Chitta Ranjan Goldar, Adv. Monjurul Alam, Taposh Biswas and Rahmat Ali.

* A press confenance was held at Satkhira press club, addressed by Ashraf -ul- Alam tutu and Attended by those leaders on that evening.

29th June ‘98: The landless masses of Satkhira observed sit down strike at the courtyard of DCs office.

13th July ‘98: To mitigate the problems of ‘8 shrimp ghers’ the committee consisting of Khulna Divisional commissioner, DIG police and Deputy Director Fisheries met at the Satkhira Circuit House for discussion with Mr. Syed Kamal Bakht MP, S.M Mokhlesur RahrnanMP. AK FazIul Huq MP and Shahadat Hussain M.P Following decisions were taken in the meeting for i mmcd iate execution:

I. "The laiidless will surrender the land within the leased zone of 8 Ghers to the lessee for unhindered shrimp culture. They are however, allowed to live along the embankment of those ghers. The lessee will recruit their labor force for shrimp culture from amongst the landless as far as practicable.”

2. “The concerned Revenue officials with the assistance of the Magistrate of Satkhira District and police force, will clearly earmark the leased areas and fix up perimeters of the shrimp culture Zone.”

3. Mr. Shahadat Hussain MP, on the other hand, suggested that. “the khas lands suitable for shrimp culture should be leased out to the landless at the rate Tk 1500/ acre and demanded that implementation of this program be given first priority.” But this committee also suggested that since the lease holders could not yet go for shrimp culture in the 'Jalmahal’ leased specially for it even at the closing stage of the culture season and since the lease period would expire on December ‘98. the first and foremost priority be given to ensure that the lease holders might go for culture without further loss of time.

26th July ‘98: The police in presence of the Magistrate planted red flags along the borderline of the khas lands of Baburabad of Dehhata and Kaliganj. The landless people strongly protested against this move. but the police started demolishing the house-holds within the red flag zone. Simultaneously the hired hands cut the embankment and let saline water in. A huge mass meeting was held at Bahurahad with Mr. Wahab All in the chair to protest against this incidence. The Magistrate and the police force set camps at Baburabad for ascertaining the bounderies of landless habitation, to be cleared and handed over to the lease holders.

27 th July ‘98: This morning about 50 policemen led by the Magistrate Sohrah Hussain tried to enter into Baburabad village. But on the other hand, a few thousand landless irrespective of gender and age positioned themselves along the embankment and waged a stiff resistance against hem.

At about II A.M the police started lathicharge on the landless women. To escape savage police action the women jumped into the nearby canals. At one stage, the police charged forward trampling across the women to enter into the 'Gher’ areas and the landless people in a hid to thwart them started throwing brick bats at the police force. That time the police admitted to have fired 22 rounds of tear gas shells and 32 rounds of bullets on order of the Magistrate. Zaeda (32), wife of Hamid Mi of Bahurabad, died on the spot getting bullet injuries on her right chest. Md. Hussain (40) Hazrat All (35), and a child (9) had been missing since the police action. About 150 landless were injured in firing incident by the police and hired hands.

“Satkhira District Landless Eviction Resistance Committee” arranged a meeting at Shahid Alauddin Square’ to condemn and protest against this police action. The meeting demanded arrest of the assailants, removal of DC and SP, and searching the missing persors out within 24 hrs. The meeting was addressed by Mr. Saifulla Laskar, Mr. Abu Ahmed, Kazi Kamal chottu, Abul Kalam Azad and others.

Mr. Kazi Wahiduzzanian, Ashraf -uI- Alam Tutu, 5k. Abdul Jalil, Zillur Rahman, Khaled Hussain, Erfan Ullah Khan, Abu Hussain Bakul, Shamim Arfeen and others from Khulna also attended the meeting. Thousands of landless brought out a mass procession with dead body of Zaeda almost paralyzing whole of the town. Shops closed, transports off the streets, thunder struck by intense grief, the whole of town burst forth with tremendous fury.

The program of Dawn to Dark Hartal next day was announced from the platform of Landless eviction resistance committee.’ They demanded removal of DC, SP and the Magistrate Mr. Sohrab Hussain. who issued the firing order. They also demanded conviction of Mr. Mani Thakur, Mansur Ahmed and other leading culprits related with the incidence.

Co-ordination of supportive forces and climax of the landless movement.
28th July ‘98: The “Citizen's Forum of Satkhira” in protest against Baburabad killing raised the following demands on behalf of the landless.

I. Formation of Judicial Inquiry Commission to ensure proper and impartial investigation into police firing and consequent killing and inflicting exemplary punishment on the persons involved in the incidence.

2. Paying compensation to the aggrieved family and making necessary arrangement for treatment of the injured.

3. Reviewing administrative decision of declaration of “Jalmahal” on the pretext of natural change in this area, and redeclaring the same as cultivable khasland and distributing them amongst the landless as per Govt. rules and regulation.

4. Formidable change in the District administration to regain peoples confidence.

5. Withdrawal of fictitious cases fabricated for harassment of the landless and immediate release of the persons under custody.
* An all-out dawn to dark Hartal was observed to protest against the killing of Zaeda.

* Prominent NGO leaders, Khushi Kabir, Shamsul Huda, Shahidul Islam and Phihip Biswas visited Satkhira and Baburabad that morning.

On inspection of the place of occurrence ADAB representatives termed the incidence of July 27th as an act of medieval savagery. The conference directly charged local administration to be entangled with the money hungry influentials of the locality.

The sameday at night, Khushi Kabir, Chairperson ALRD and coordinator
Nijera kori, Mr. Shamsul Huda, DirectorADAB and Mr. Shahidul Islam
Director Uttaran held another press conference at Khulna Press Club.

A citizen’s representative meeting was held, sponsored by ‘Solidarity committee’ at that night, attend by the said leaders.

29th July ‘98: Angry crowd ransacked collectorate Building. The landless people along with the people of all sections of the society brought out a procession with dead body of Zaeda subsequently laid to rest at Baburabad.

* A mass gathering orgainsed by ‘Solidarity Committee of Khuln’i to protest police firing and expressing solidarity with the landless people was addressed by Ashraf-ul-Alam Tutu, Haider Gazy Salahuddin, Adv. Monzurul Alam, Adv Abdullah Hossain and Taposh Biswas, chaired by Adv. Firoj Ahamed.

* A meeting was held in Dhaka to protest against the killing of landless at Satkhira.

* ADAB specifically held the police authority responsible for the incidence and solicited direct interference of the Prime Minister.

30th July 98: DC’s office and the Court remained closed, local administration of Satkhira almost collapsed.

* After the massacre of Dehhata and Kaliganj a vicious circle conspired behind the screen to disturb communal harmony in the village of ‘Atshobigha’, predominantly inhabited by the religions minority community.

* Leaders of landless Evictioii Resistance Co-ordination Committee’ renanied Baburabad as “Zaeda Nagar’. Addressing the people of ‘Atsho Bigha’ the leaders clearly pointed out that the movement of the landless was oriented neither to the politics of any particular political party nor to any trend harmful for communal harmony.

* Visit to Satkhira as a gesture of integration with legitimate rights of the landless. Mr. Bimal Biswas, Dilip Barua, Anisur Rahman Mallik, Adv.Ziadul Malum and Shuvrangshu Chakrabarti were amongst the leaders on mission.

1st August ‘98: After visiting Zeada Nagar, leaders of the “K. K. M. S Parishad” proclaimed their oneness with the movement of the landless in a press briefing. The leaders called the people to repulse with an iron fist any attempt to communalize and disintegrate the movement.

“Coordination Committee of the Human Rights of Bangladesh” [CCHRB] demanded resignation of the Deputy Minister [Land] and Judicial enquiry in to the incidence.

2nd August ‘98: A press conference was addressed by the leaders of ‘Coordination committee of Satkhira’ and ‘Solidanity committee of Khulna’ after visiting ‘Atshobigha Gram’ Leaders warned the anti people not to mislead the struggle raising false and fabricated allegation. The conference was addressed by Ashraf -ul- Alam tutu, Abul Kalam Azad, Dr. Chitta Ranjan Das, Prittee Biswas, Shambhu Chowdhury, Zillur Rahman, Shahidullah Osmani, etc.

3rd August ‘98: “Landless Eviction Resistance Co-ordination Committee” called for a sit-down strike at Satkhira to protest against killing and press for realisation of the demands. While every thing was going on peacefully the police without any provocation started firing rubber bullets and resorted to indiscriminate lathicharge and teargas shelling. 50 persons including Mostofa Lutfulla, leader of the District committee of Workers Party, sustained serious injury in the incidence. Half-day Hartal from 6
A.M-2 P.M was called the next day by ‘Satkhira Co-ordination committee and ‘Solidarity committee of Khulna.’ The gathering was addressed by Adv. Abdur Rahim, Prof. Aba Ahrned, Abul Kalarn Azad. Saifullah Laaskor, Ahv. Firoj Ahmed, Ashraf -ul- Alam tutu. Syeda Nigar Banu. Shamim Arefeen etc.

DC, SP. Magistrate Sohrah Hussain, Mansur Ahmed, general secretary, Awami League, Satkhira Destrict coimnittee and Ex. MP and Maui Mukherjee were declared unwanted for the locality. 4th August ‘98: Hartal was observed peacefully at Satkhira.

5th August ‘9k: “Coordination Committee of the Human Rights of Bangladesh” [CCHRB] solicited Prime Minister’s interference in this issue.

* One member judicial inquiry commission was formed with Mr. Khandakar Musa Khaled, District judge, Khulna.The commission was scheduled to submit the inquiry report to the land Ministry in the form of recommendation with in that month.
* Leaders of ADAB visited ‘Atsho Bigha’ and ‘Zaeda Nagar’ villages. The team was comprised of Mr. Ashraf-ul Alam Tutu, Khaled Hussain Bakul, Jalal Ahmed, Zahurul Haq Tipu, Dr. Chitta Ranjun Das and Pritee Baisws. The team was apprised on the spot that Moni Mukherji and his accomplices were trying to jeopardize communal harmony in the area which had solong been free from communal conflicts.

6th August ‘98: Office of the TNO Kaliganj was ‘Gheraoed’ (Seized) as a mark of protest against police firing and killing of the landless. A mass meeting was held at thana parishad courtyard. Demonstrators demanded immediate removal of DC and SP of Satkhira. The meeting was addressed by Mr. Shahadut Hussain, MP, Mr. Abdul Gaul, convener ‘action committee’, Mr. Abdul Khaleq. Mr. Mahbubur Rahman and others. The meeting declared local Professor Mr. Khoda Bux, S M Abdur Rahman, and Mr. Tamizuddin unwanted in Satkhira.

* A statement demanding judicial inquiry into Baburabad massacre, was issued by Khulna ADAB.

7th August ‘98: ‘Action coordination committee’ expressed doubt about the neutrality of inquiry carried out by the Enquirer committee investigating the incidence. Mr. Abul Kalam Azad, member secretary of the committee read out a written statement in the press conference.

* Different peasant organisations including “Kishani Shova” brought out a procession to demonstrate against the incidence at Dhaka city.

8th August ‘98: BNP arranged a mass meeting in the field of Debishahar to protest against police firing and killing of Zaeda a leader of the landless women. The meeting was addressed by Khaleda Zia, the leader of BNP and the opposition leader in the parliament. In this meeting the leader of the opposition, proclaimed oneness with the movement launched by the “Action Coordination Committee”. She declared, incase of deprivation of the landless of their legitimate rights, fierce mass movement will be launched on a bigger scale.

* A fund raising cultural show was arranged in Khulna by ‘LOSAUK” a voluntary organisation for collection of fund for the treatment of the injured landless. The show began through observance of I minute silence in memory of Shahid Zaeda.

9th August 98: In protest against eviction and killing of the landless, the ‘Solidarity Committee’ staged demonstration and brought out a procession in Khulna. The meeting was addressed by Adv. Firoj Ahmed, Ashraf -ul-Alam tutu, Haider Gazi Salahuddin Runu, Adv. Abdur Rahim, Adv. Monjurul Alam, Qudrat-e-Khuda, Shaha Mamunur Rahman etc.

* ‘Bangladesh Chatra Maitry’ Khulna District commttee observed a token hunger strike at Hadis Park in support of 8 point demands of the landless.

1. Corrupt DC Dehdutt Khisha, SP Ahu Baker Siddiq. ADC (Rev) Ahmed Khan and magistrate Sohrab Hussain should immediately he removed and put on trial.
2. Declaration of so-called 'Jal Mahal’ should he cancelled and khas lands he given on lease to the landless.
3. Adequate compensation should he given to the families of the deceased, arrangement he made for the treatment of the injured and assistance he given to the people of the worst affected in the incidence.
4. Zaeda Khatun murder case should he filed and the accused should he put on trial.

5. All fictitious cases filed aeainst the landless and their leaders for intimidation should he withdrawn and the Person  taken under custody he inimcdiately released.
6. Recovery of khas lands under illegal occupation through forged deeds.

7. The Scope and jurisdiction of judicial imquiry commission should be pervasive of all related incidents.

8. Conspirators likc Mansui Ahmcd. Mani Thakur. Shuhhas Ghosh. Karim par. Salamatullah and Co. and all other actors behind the screen should he arrested and Pill on trial.
10th August ‘98: In the face of movement of the masses of all walks of life including lawyears and Journalists, DC Debdutt Khisha, SP Abu Bakr Siddiq and Magistrate Sohrab Hussain were withdrawn from Satkhira.

11th August ‘98: Mr. Firoze Ahmed, convener Landless Eviction Resistance Solidarity Committe’ read out a written statement in a press conference at Khulna Press Club on the latest position of the movement and the course of events arising there from. Mr. Ashraf-ul-Alam Tutu. Adv. Abdulla Hussain, Adv. Manzurul Alam, Haider Gazi Salahuddin Runu, Syed Nigar Sultana were also present in the conference.

* General Ershad addressed a mamoth mass meeting arranged by ‘Satkhira Jatio Party’ on this particular issue of Debhata and Kaliganj.

* A team led by Mr. Kazi Faruq Ahmed chairperson ADAB and consisting of five other members, Khushi Kahir, Shamsul Huda, Aroma Goon. Abdul Matin, and Shahidul Islam met the Prime Minister at her office and handed over a memorandum to her. The Prime Minister assured them of considering their demands sympathetically. The very day, in the evening the representatives of ADAB addressed a press conference at National Press Club, Dhaka.

12th August ‘98: An inquiry team of Human Rights Cell of Khulna Bar Association, visited Zaeda Nagar and its adjacent areas. The team consisted of three members, Adv. Shirin Sultana, Adv. Asia Parveen, and Adv. lqbal Hussain. Under the joint initiative of ‘Satkhira Landless Eviction Resistance Coordination Committee’ and Coordination Resistance Solidarity Committee of Khulna’ different political parties,

student and labour organisations held a meeting at Satkhira Municipal Auditorium for collective exchange of views. The meeting was presided over by Adv. Abdur Rahim and addressed by leaders of different political parties. mass organizations and various professional organizations. A program of mass mobilization, processions atid meeting was announced from the platform.

Among others the meeting was addressed by Kazi Wahiduzzaman Ashraf -Ul- Alam Tutu, Adv.Firoj Ahrned. Prof Abu Ahmed. Anisur Rahini. Ahul Kalam Azad. Dr. Nazniul Ahsan, Nurul Huda. Ahul I-Iossain.

13th August ‘98: The district committee of Bangladesh Awanii Leagues. Satkhira was dissolved through a fax message of Mr. ZiIIur Rahman.

14th August ‘98: On visiting the place of occurrence of Debhata and Kaliganj and specially ‘Atsho Bigha Gram’, the leadership of ~Co-ordination’ and ~SoIidarity Committee’ made clear their firm stand against communalism. A large gathering was addressed by Shahidul Islam, Mukti Chakrabarti, Dr. Chitta Das. Ahul Kalam Azad, Ashraf -ul- Alam tutu. Saifullah Laskor. Kudrat-e- Khuda and others.

17th August ‘98: Leaders of the landless movement of Khulna and Satkhira called a press conference to express their positive stand to make Prime Ministersi meeting on 18th August a success.

* A delegation lead by the Mayor of Khulna City Corporation called on the President Justice Shahahuddin Ahmed and drew his attention to the atrocities on landless at Debhata and Kaligonj.

18th August ‘98: The Prime Minister SK. Hasina came to visit Satkhira at the clarion call of united anti eviction forces. In the meeting held at Dehhata 23 kms away from Satkhira, the Prime Minister asked concerned officials to find a permanent solution to the long standing dispute between the landless people of the locality aiid the lease holders of Jal Mahal’. ln her speech she gave assurance that the surrounding khas lands will be distributed amongst the landless people of the locality and a massive program to rehabilitate the homeless people through the 'Asrayan Project’ will he taken up soon.

The Honorable Prime Minister of Bangladesh

The same day in a press conference at Khulna press club, Mayor, KCC Mr. Tyebur Rahman, expressed his deep concern over the organized hooliganism against the landless of Satkhira.

Some views on the role of NCOs in The Anti eviction movement:
Adv. Firoze Ahmed, Leader of CPB:


Mr. Saifulla Laskar, Leader of “Krishak Sangrarn Samity”:




The role of the journalists in antieviction movement:
The local journalists of Satkhira played an enlightening role in the anti eviction moVen1ent of landless of Dehhata and Kaliganj. The newspapers of Satkhira, Khulna and Dhaka helped a lot in mobilizing mass opinion and co-ordinating pro-movement forces through circulation of true and realistic news. The jouiialists fought not only with their pen alone but also participated physically in the movement. Mr.Ahul Kalam Azad, Executive Director of the daily ‘Satkhira Chitra’ and Prof. Abu Ahmed executive director of the daily 'Kafela’ directly led the movement of the landless. Taking direct part in the struggle for exacting legitimate rights of the landless, is nodoubt a courageous act infused with the sense of humanity on the part of the Journalists. The news papers of Dhaka played a vital role in stirring up national conscience and mobilizing mass opinion through out the country. The way the jounalists faught with the pen and in the field in favour of the helpless humanity, is no doubt an illustrous source of encouragement for all time to come.

Role of the landless women:
The women of the villages, earmarked for the eviction of the landless, fought courageously in the struggle for khas lands. The male people of the villages pinned down by various repressive meaures of the Govt. could not come in the front line of the movement. The women community of Debhata and Kaliganj came courageously forward to fill up the vaecuam. In the peaceful anti eviction procession of 27th July, women community was in the forefront while the landless male people assisted them. Zaeda, the symbol of courage and sacrifice for the landless, was killed in police firing that day.
This anti eviction movment of landless of Debhata and Kaliganj will inspire the landless community to forge ahead in their struggle for khas land through out the country and strike terror into the hearts of the rich and influential upper stratum of the society hankering after khas lands. May the self-sacrifice of landless Zaeda steam the niovement of the landless throughout the country, forward to its ultimate destination.

Casualty list of Police Action on 27th July:

1. Zaeda Khatun (40) w/o Abdul Hamid, Vill-Bahurabad, Kaliganj.
2. A baby of I year and 6 months sb Ansar Ak Vill-Bahurabad. Kal iganj.
3. A baby of I year aiid 6 nionths sboNur Mohammed, Vill-Bahurahad. Kal iganj.

In lured:

(Those who underwent treatnient with serious injuries in different
Hospitals of Satkhira, Khaulna and Dhaka)
1. Ahovan (35), sb Sobhan, Iehapur, Kaliganj.
2. Jahar Ali (40), sb Gani Gazi, Babura bad, Kaliganj.
3. Abdul Hamid (35), sb Late Mandar All, Babura bad, Kaliganj.
4. Insur All (35), sb Anar All, Babura bad, Kaliganj.
5. Kuddus (20), sb Kader Bux, Bhangan Man, Kaliganj.
6. Ansar Ali (32), sb Nurban Sarder, Babura bad, Kaliganj.
7. Moharam (22), sb Ruhul Amin, Babura bad, Kaliganj.
8. Mohar Ali (32), sb Ahadulla Sander, Bhangan Man, Kaliganj.
9. Shamsu (32), sb Asiruddin, Babura bad, Kaliganj.
10. Jamat Ali (40) sb Asiruddin, Jhiamari, Kaliganj.
II. Ansar Ali (40), sb Shahadat Sarder, Jhiarnani, Kaliganj.
12. Shahadat (22), sb Late Jamat All, Dhebukhali. Kaliganj.
13. Moslem Ali (26), sb Noor All, Bhangan Marl, Kaliganj.
14. Nasima (24),wbo Hafizur Rahman, Babura bad, Kaliganj.
15. Zohra Khatun (26),wbo Zahiruddin, Bhangan Man, Kaliganj
16. Sarbanu (36), wbo Shujauddin Molla, Jhiamari, Kaliganj.
17. Mahfuza (40), wbo Abul Hussain, Bhangan Man, Kaliganj.
18. Asia (24). wbo Amir All, Babura bad, Kaliganj.
19. China (25), wbo Ansar Mi, Babura bad. Kaliganj.
20. Shahida (40),w/o Iman Gazi, Dhebukhali, Kaliganj.
21. Sabura Khatun (25), wbo Ansar Ali, Jhiamani, Kaliganj.
22. Iahanara Khatun (24), wbo Jamat All, Jhiamani, Kaliganj.
23. Wahed Ali (28), Sb Not known, Babura bad, Kaliganj.
24. Islam (30), sb Late Ahmed All Sarder.
25. Noon Mohammed Khan (35), sb Late Rahatulla Khan.
26. Sobur (30). sb Mowla Bux, Kala Bania, Debhata.

List of organisations leading the landless movement of Satkhira:

'Dehhata Kaliganj Bhumihim Uchhed Protirodh Committee’: Eviction Resistance Committee of Debhata Kaliganj) Date of formation: 07.05.98 No of Members : 7 Nos. Convenor: Mr. Ahdul Gani, Chairman Noapara of UP. Members: Mr. Golam Faruq Bahu. Chairman UP, Parulia. Mr.Asaduzzanian Scum, chairman Nalta UP, Prof. Ahdul Khalek, chairman Bhara sumla UP. Mr. Abdul Gafur, chairman, Tarali UP. Prof. Khuda Bux. Mr. G.M. Abdul Gaffar.
i) 'Citizen’s Forum of Satkhira’. ii) Date of Formation: 12.05.98.

Convener: Mr. Abdur Rahim a senior Politician of Satkhira. Member Sccretary: Mr. Saifulla Laskar, a peasant leader. Memers: Mr. Kudrat-e-Khuda. Mr. Kazi Saidur Rahman. Mr. Sarder Kazem Ali.

iii) Besides ‘Satkhira Zilla Bhumihin Samity’ (Satkhira District Landless Assosiation) played a vital role in the movement under the leadership of Prof. Abu Ahrned.
iv) In a combined meeting of the above three organistions, a committee named iSatkhira Bhumihin Uchhed Protirodh Sangram Samannay Committeei (Landless Eviction Resistance Coordination Committee) consisting of 71 members with Adv. Abdur Rahim as convener and Mr. Abul Kalam Azad as member secretary was formed on 16th June, 98. A steering committee consisting of II members was also formed the same day. It needs to be mentioned here that three members, one from each of the above three committees, were elected joint convener of the ‘Bhumihiii Uchhed Protirodh Sangram Samannay Committee’. Out of these three joint conveners one will be nominated convener for 2 months in cyclic order.
v) A meeting of local elites was held with Kazi Wahiduzzaman, chairperson of ADAB Khulna chapter in chair, a committee named ‘Bhumihin Uchhed Protirodh Sanghati Committee’ (Landless Eviction Resistance Solidarity Committee of Khulna) consisting of 7 members was formed to assist the movement of the landless.
Convener: Adv. Firoze Ahmed.
Members: Adv. Enayet Au. Adv. Manzurul Alam. Adv. Ahdulla Hussain. Mr. Haider Gazi Salauddin Runu. Dr. Baharul AIam.
Member- Secretary: Mr. Ashraf -uI- Alam tutu.

List of organisationa actively involved in the movement.
a. All NGOs under ADAB Khulna chapter. b. BMA(Bangladesh Medical Association). c. Khulna Unnayon Sangram Samunnay Committee.(Greater Khulna Action Coordination Committee for Development). d. Khulna Zilla Am Jibi Samity.(Khulna District Bar Association)

List of NGOs outside ADAB playing active role in the movement: a. Amader Parihartan. b. The Heart Raise. c. AOSEHD. d. Muktir Alo Role of NGOs in the movement:
ADAB co-ordinating agency of all NGOs played a vital role in the movement. On 19th July, 98. after visiting the affected areas the leaders of ADAB formed a co-ordinating team with three organizations working at Debhata and Kaliganj to assist the struggling landless.
The list of Member organisations of the co-ordinating team is furnished below- 1) Ideal. 2) Shushilon. 3) Uttaran
The help and assistance extended by the eo-ordinating team to the landless are as follows- i) Legal Aid.. 2) Organisational assistance.. 3) Advocacy. 4) Relief. 5) Medical facilities
Afterwords chairperson, ADAB, Khulna chapter and RFO were co-opted in the co-ordinating team to form ~Satkhira Bhumihin Sahayata Committee.’ With the financial assistance of PROSHIKA and on approval of this committee, Ideal and Shushilon are implementing credit and rehabilitation program amongst the landless. Relief Program was condueted in the area before hand with the financial assistance of Uttaran. From the very beginning the central leaders and leaders of ADAB, Khulna chapter, paid frequent visits to the affected areas. ADAB widely circulated one printed poster and leaflets and took up major responsibility for treatment of the injured after July 27th . Central leaders of ADAB met the hon’ble Prime Minister and the Deputy minister of land and ventilated grievances of the landless to them. In extending legal aids to the landless, apart from Institute of Human Rights and Legal Aids of UTTARAN, Bangladesh legal Aid services trust (BLAST) also proved helpful at critical juncture. ALRD played a vital role in extending legal aid and other necessary assistance to the landless.
The struggle for land of the landless at Satkhira is not the end in itselt. It is just the beginning of a long drawn and tortous struggle waged by the deprived millions in existing socio-politico economic context of the country. It is a milestone in the rough and twisted terrain of land reform an essential pre-requiste for a meaningful socio- economic development.

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