Chota Kumira (A rural Hilly village of Bangladesh) is a place in Chittagong district, Bangladesh. Though situated beside the Dhaka-Chittagong Highway, it remains untouched by the touchstone of development. Rather the black smoke of the industries is polluting the environment of Kumira. Some aborigines live in the remote, mountainous area of Kumira. These peoples are both deprived of land owning and social security. The population of Tripura para is around 450 of which nearly 150 are children. Some 80 families live here whose origin is rooted in Tripura, India. Away from Dhaka-Chittagong highway three kilometers of zigzag, mountainous tramp will take you to the Tripura village. Walking is the only means to go there.
The history of Tripura para is about 100 years old. At past the local landowners permitted some of the people from Tripura to live here in exchange of yearly rent for the land. From then on Tripura para has expanded a little. Regarding the present situation, the Patriarch (Leader) of the Village named Karna Tripura says, “We give five-thousand taka (75 US Dollar) as rental money each year for this land. We cultivate various seasonal vegetables by Jhoom cultivation, a process to grow food in the slope of mountain. We have to share our crops with the landowner. As a result the landowner is taking 1 and half Lac (2239 US Dollar) to 2 Lac (2986 US Dollar) taka each year from us.
Rabindra Tripura, a local schoolteacher of Tripura para, says that as they have no land of their own, they do not get any aid from the Government. When we go to the union Chairman for any help, he usually says that as we have no land of our own, we cannot get any facilities from the Government. With a sad voice the schoolmaster Rabindra adds, we have placed our demand for land before the TNO (Thana In-charge Officer) and before our local Member of Parliament L. K. Siddique. But nothing has been done regarding our survival. We heard that a big place has been allotted for the villagers of Tripura Para by the Government. But our MP L. K. Siddique didn’t sign the proposal and as consequence we remain as helpless as we were. Why he has not signed the proposal, we yet don’t know.
A poor School
Tripura para village has only one school. 13 years ago from hence an NGO called ‘World Vision’ established the School. World vision quitted Tripura Para when their project work was finished. Then, four years ago from now, a local NGO called Young Power in Social Action (YPSA) took the responsibility of the school. But a spot visit proves that its present condition is very poor and it is on the brink of extinction. No good teacher is available here for good teaching. Rabindra- a local youth of Tripura para village is a teacher of this school. He says, we are unable to provide quality education in this school. We only teach up to class ‘two’ (standard II) and nurture the little students to make them able to study in a primary School. The Patriarch of the village Karna Tripura says that they run the school by their joint economical support. ‘But we cannot afford good teacher form the good part of Chittagong district. Only support from the Education Ministry can change this poor condition of our only School’- he says.
There are other schools in the low land but as there is no proper road leading to the low, plane land, the children cannot join to these schools. Economical poverty is another bar for sending them to those schools. As consequences only 10 to 12 children out of 130 go the schools of the plane land. Their education life is limited by learning only the Bengali alphabets. When these children’s grow up, they concentrate on their ancestor’s profession of ‘Jhoom’ cultivation. Rabindra Tripura is the only man of this village, who was able to complete his class Ten education.
The plane Landers know and utter that these high Landers are also Bangladeshi, but they actually cannot take them as Bangladeshi from the core of their heart. This discrimination is clear in the price differences of crops cultivated by the highlanders and crops cultivated by the place Landers. Patriarch Karna says, we work harder in our Jhoom cultivation than the plane land cultivators. They sell their crops 15-taka par Kg whereas we get only 8 to 9-taka. They cannot take us as Bangladeshi. So they deprive us of the real price.
Problem after problem! When a Tripura para villager carries a basket of crop to the market he has to pay money in several stoppages as toll. Every Tripura para villagers have to give 5-taka toll at every stoppage, per basket.
Out of Law-police or RAB area
“We have never seen RAB (Rapid Action Battalion) here. We cannot recall the last time that police visited our village. If we face any problem, we go to the police. They don’t come to our village because they think that it is utterly impossible to arrest any criminal here in this remote, mountainous area and that our security is not their subject. Thus, how insecure life we are bearing”- says an old villager Phunkha Rai, with sorrow.
Though there are no RAB or Police activities in the village, there are some check posts on the way to the village. People at every check post take toll for each basket-full of crops. These people also interrogate those plane leaders who want to go to the village for purpose. These are the so-called security men assigned by the landowner of the village. Instead of providing security, they actually are robbing the villagers wealth and peace of life.
There was a time when the villagers of Tripura Para were unable to vote. Other people of other locality abused the voting right of these poor illiterate villagers. But at present, with the help of some NGO activities these people are getting some facilities. They have now gained their voting rights and got VGF card and old-age allowance etc. Regarding these few facilities the Patriarch Karna says, “Now we get our voting right. But all the candidates promise many things before the election. After winning they all become invisible. Only few older villagers get very small amount of wheat every year, as they have VGF cards.”
Pure drinking water is a big problem for the villagers of Tripura Para. The only tube-well, few miles away from the village, is out of order now. So a near by mountain-spring is the only way to get drinking water for the villagers. Old Phunkha Rai informs that water is scarce so they fetched water during the rainy season. This water storage is their main source of drinking water.
Medical facilities are not at all available. Anything miserable happens they have to wait a weeks. Cause The only way for their treatment is the weekly satellite clinic run by a local NGO. But this clinic does not have any concern regarding the birth control of the locality. So a woman becomes mother of almost 5 or 6 children within her 10 years of marriage. And it is not hard to imagine the health problem of all these mothers and their children. Karna says, “We are neglected people of this country. We get no treatment facility and every year many of our people die without treatment.”
There are thousands of problems like these in the lives of Tripura Para villagers. “Now we cannot rely on anybody. We are weak and illiterate- so there is no one to speak for us. Thus we born and thus the way we die”- Says a villager with disgust.
The people in Tripura Para are afraid to dream now. They don’t know how the policy changes with the politics, how the live changes with changing border line of a country, how the words and promises lost in air. Only the things they know is a better future, the time while they don’t have to dream for it rather they will have all the facility and the right in their hands.