The audio documentary on the land grabbing in Bangladesh was produced for Panos London. In rural Bangladesh commonly the poor become victim of land grabbing, sometime happen violence and loss life along with poverty by the powerful class. In this production a case in Bhaluka, Mymensingh district highlighted to express the reality. Listen …
Bangladesh: Reduced to beggars by land dispute
Disputes over land are the biggest single cause of court cases in Bangladesh. It’s usually the rich and powerful who win. Here one couple describes how they lost their home and their livelihood.
Man: My father sold some land because he was ill and needed money to pay for his treatment. Sadly a short time later he died. He had sold 12 units of land to a rich and powerful neighbour. But after my father’s death this person claimed he had been sold 48 units. I told him, I know only 12 units had been sold and I asked to see my father’s fingerprint on the original contract. But when I said this, the man got very angry and started making death threats.
Man: This man was one of the rich elite who participated in local government elections. He was also chairman of one of our regional committees. I was unable to take the case to court because I had little money, but also I feared for my life.
Woman: At night we had to stay alert, because we thought they would kill us when it got dark.
Woman: They did almost try to kill us with a knife once. Our village was built on flat land and armed men chased my husband through the streets. However, the neighbours protected us. Hundreds of villagers came out and helped us fend off the land grabbers. I really feared for my husband’s life that day. The men then set fire to our kitchen. After this my husband became very disturbed and he was gripped with fear.
Man: I didn’t take the case to court, but to put me under even more pressure the land grabbers filed three court cases against me.
Man: I was surprised by this. I was being forced to stand trial. I didn’t know what to do. So we ran away and took refuge in my father-in-law’s house. I wasn’t aware they were going to do this, because they did it all through solicitors. Neighbours told us about the case, but as we hadn’t heard anything, we didn’t appear in court when we should have. Then suddenly, one day the police arrested me on the street.
Man: Following my arrest, the men who had taken the land, chopped down all our big trees and demolished my house because they wanted to grow crops on the land. Everything was flattened. I couldn’t go back there once I was released from prison.
Woman: My mother-in-law cried as she told us everything they had destroyed. We had nothing. It was only with the help of my brothers that we managed to survive this ordeal. Our children couldn’t even get an education, because these men had even filed court cases against my sons. So they weren’t allowed to attend school.
Man: From that moment we had nothing. They had taken everything from us. We were living like beggars. It was only because of the generosity of my wife’s brothers and people in the village that we managed to survive.
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URL of Track: http://www.panos.org.uk/?lid=27387