22 Years of CHT Accord: Government killing time by pronouncing mere commitments for implementation
The Awami League-led present government, as though being one of the signatories of the Accord and in the power at a stretch for 11 years, has not yet paced forward to implement the Accord, among the Jumma people, in one hand as there prevails extreme despair, discontent and resentment while tremendous fright for insecure and uncertain future, on the other. The government, while keeping two-third sections of the Accord unimplemented, has undertaken a reverse course by way of spreading untrue, concocted and baseless propaganda at home and in abroad claiming ’48 sections out of 72 of the Accord have been completely implemented’. During the last 11 years, the government has been killing the time by pronouncing mere utterances of solacing repeated commitments for implementation of the Accord, says Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma alias Santu Larma.
President of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) and one of signatories of the Accord, Mr. Larma also added that the Jumma people have waited implementation of the Accord for 22 years. The Jumma people have given a lot of time to the government and ruling class. The Jumma people are feeble and backward in all respects. For being so, they cannot be an object of negligence and to be ignored. The Jumma people long for their rights and salvation and this very aspect is their sole capital. At this critical juncture, the Jumma people are at their firm stance to protect their national entity and entity of their birth land. The Jumma people, as citizens of the country, want to live in with equal rights and equal status. Hence, in perspective of the prevalent situation, they are obliged to ponder deeply as to what could be their Dos. It is needless to say that today, two counter parties are standing face-to-face in CHT. One party wants implementation of the Accord while the other party is about to trample it down.
Mr. Larma expressed this outrage at the press conference organised by PCJSS on the occasion of 22nd anniversary of CHT Accord, in Dhaka on 01 December 2019. Mr. Larma delivered main speech at the press conference while Education and Culture Affairs Secretary of PCJSS, U Win Mong Joly, facilitated the event. The press conference was also attended by President Oikya NAP Pankaj Bhattacharya, teacher of Dhaka University Mesbah Kamal and Robaet Ferdous, General Secretary of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum Sanjeeb Drong, et al.
In a brief discussion, President of Oikya NAP Pankaj Bhattacharya said that without constitutional recognition of the indigenous peoples, this state cannot become a liberal state. It is nothing but a failure of the government to implement the Accord, which was signed 22 years ago. Pankaj Bhattacharya urged the government to expedite implementation of the CHT Accord.
Participating in the discussion, Dhaka University teacher and Secretary of Parliamentary Caucus on Indigenous Peoples, Mesbah Kamal said that there are seventy eight other ethnic groups in Bangladesh, in addition to the Bengali people. Indigenous peoples want to live with their basic rights, equal rights. He said the problem of CHT is a political issue. Hence, the CHT Accord was signed to solve CHT problem politically. He raised the question to the government, if CHT Accord is not implemented in long 22 years, then how long will it be implemented?
The text of main speech of Santu Larma are as follows:
PRESS CONFERENCE of PCJSS on the occasion of 22nd anniversary of CHT Accord signed in 1997:
01 December 2019, Friday, 11:00 a.m. Hotel Sunderban, Dhaka
Dear Journalist Friends,
On behalf of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS), I would like to convey our heartiest wishes to you all present in today’s press conference organized on the occasion of 22nd anniversary of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Accord 1997.
You are aware that during partition of India based on two-nation theory, the non-Muslim inhabited CHT was annexed to the Muslim State Pakistan on 17 August 1947. Immediately after annexation, formulation of blue-print for turning the non-Muslim area into a Muslim-dominated region began and crippling of the British-introduced Chittagong Hill Tracts Regulation 1900 started. The local Tribal Police Force established in 1881 was disbanded; the Inner-Line Permit System was cancelled; and having the opportunity for infiltration, the illegal settlement program of sheltered India-left non-tribal refugees (Muslims) in CHT began violating the CHT Regulation 1900; filing cases and issuance of arrest warrants began against the Hillman leaders involved in the movement for inclusion of CHT in India. Consequently, all this led to creation of abnormal and formidable situation in CHT.
It is relevant to be mentioned that though the British-introduced CHT Regulation 1900 was recognized in the first National Constitution of Pakistan in 1956, yet in 1954, the Pakistan government, with a mean political intention, undertook the conspiring plan to construct a dam across the Karnafuly River without justifying opinion of the Jumma people. Despite strong object of the Jumma people, the dam was constructed at a place named Kaptai in 1960. Asa result of this dam, the most fertile and developing lands measuring 250 square miles got inundated and 100thousand Jumma people became displaced. The government had assured of giving lands in exchange. Measure for proper rehabilitation would be undertaken. But indeed, no measure as such was taken. It was learnt that the government did not spend even a half of the amount so granted for rehabilitation. Consequently, an uncertain and insecure situation overshadowed the CHT. As a result of the prevalent situation, 40 thousand people obliged to migrate India while 20thousand people to Myanmar. Due to Kaptai dam, ranging from the social, cultural, lands, agriculture, political, economic situation to holistic lifestyles of the Jumma people got completely jeopardized; boundless plight, cries and disaster swept all aspects of life. So, the Kaptai dam has stood as a death-trap to the Jumma people. Thus, how the complicated and unprecedented national problem cropped up in protecting and developing the national entity of the Jumma people, in establishing their administrative and political rights, in protecting their lands and economic rights and in protecting their social and cultural lifestyles.
Dear Media Friends,
Under the circumstances as aforesaid, the independent Bangladesh found its place in the history of mankind in 1971. The Constitution of independent Bangladesh was originated. A demand of a special democratic administrative system for protection of the national entity of the Jumma people was raised in 1972. In perspective of distinctive governance history, national identity and economic backdrop, the CHT leaders including Manabendra Narayan Larma submitted a demand for Regional Autonomy to the government in 1972. But despite strongmandate of the people, the demand was ignored and rejected. Instead, the government began to adopt suppressive policy one after another. To that end, 3 army cantonments at Dighinala, Alikadam and Ruma were established in 1973. A State of Emergency was declared in CHT. The Jumma people were defined as Bengali in the constitution. Multi-faceted atrocities, oppression and suppression came upon the innocent Jumma people in the name of subduing Razakars and Mujahidins. With promulgation of martial law in 1975, all the democratic approaches got closed. On the other hand, operation and atrocities of military and para-military forces upon the Jumma people got momentum. Thus, the Jumma people led by PCJSS had to embark upon armed struggle of resistance aiming at protection of national entity, rights to lands and self-protection.
Relevantly, it is highly reckonable that in continuation to the Islamization conspiracy hatched by Pakistan during partition of the country, with active assistance of the army, more than 500thousand Muslim Bengalis from plains were settled down on the homesteads and lands of the Jumma people under government plan and finance within the span of time from 1979 to 1985.In1980, a guised military rule was introduced by promulgation of ‘Operation Dabanol’ (Operation Wildfire) in CHT. Thus had been the way of how the CHT crisis got escalated from complex to more complex under the then ruling class due to adoption of wrong and motivated policies prompting military suppression and atrocities, getting the Jumma people minority by illegal settlement of outsiders, illegal land occupation and forcible eviction of Jumma people from their ancestral lands and homesteads, causing communal attacks, carrying out massacres, so-called development under military control, arbitrary arrest, violence against women etc. Consequently, to get rid of such suppression, atrocities and injustice and in the hope for security, more than hundred thousands people were compelled to take refuge to India and Myanmar in 1978.
Dear Friends from media,
At a certain phase, as a result of irresistible struggle of the Jumma people led by PCJSS and having fallen under tremendous pressure of public opinion at home and in abroad, the ultra-nationalist and ultra-communal government, instead of pursuing the wrong policy, obliged to sit in formal dialogue with PCJSS to resolve the CHT crisis politically and peacefully through discussions. The first round of dialogue with the then Ershad government with PCJSS was held on 25 October 1985 and in continuation to the same, 6 rounds of dialogue was held with the Ershad government (1985-1990), 13 times with BNP government (1991-1995) and 7 times with Hasina-led government (1996-1997) – thus the dialogue was held for altogether 26 times and in the end, with a view to resolving the CHT crisis politically and peacefully, having kept the national and international communities as witnesses, the CHT Accord was signed on the basis of modified 5-point charter of demand on 2 December 1997.
After signing the Accord, though passing of 22 years, the government has left the core and significant issues unimplemented as to this day. It is needless to cite here that during tenure of the government with which the Accord was signed, at present it is that Awami League-led grand alliance government even though seating in the power consecutively for 11 years, has not yet undertaken any effective initiative and step to implement the unimplemented issues to this day. On the contrary, the government has been pursuing uninterrupted conspiracies to abolish the national entity of Jumma people including the CHT Accord for once and all. The guised military rule has been kept on-going by replacing ‘Operation Dabanol’ (Operation Wildfire)with ‘Operation Uttoron’ (Operation Upliftment) since the year 2001.
The Awami League government, as though being one of the signatories of the Accord and in the power at a stretch for 11 years, has not yet paced forward to implement the Accord, among the Jumma people, in one hand as there prevails extreme despair, discontent and resentment while tremendous fright for insecure and uncertain future, on the other. The government, instead of relocating the Bengali Muslim settlers outside CHT with dignity and honour as per the Accord and while keeping two-third sections of the Accord unimplemented, has undertaken a reverse course by way of spreading untrue, concocted and baseless propaganda at home and in abroad claiming “48 sections out of 72 of the Accord have been completely implemented.” During the last 11 years, the government has been killing the time by pronouncing mere utterances of solacing commitments: ‘Government is sincere in implementing the Accord’, ‘The CHT Accord will be 100% implemented’ and ‘The remaining portion of the Accord will be implemented by phases.’
Dear Media Friends,
Indeed, with a mean objective to abolish the Jumma nations for ever, the government is executing its conspiracy of Bengalization and Islamization simultaneously. To that end, all in a vested group comprising of ruling party, government and certain quarter of the government-controlled executive, judiciary, legislative and defence are discharging all round ill-attempts to null the Accord implementation process, to ruin the PCJSS leadership and to resist all programs directing to implementation of the Accord. Above all, law enforcement and military forces in conjunction with the local leadership of ruling party and its associate organizations, including their stooges and collaborating forces in direct association with the communal groups, have unleashed arbitrary arrest and sending to jail, enforced disappearance and killing, meting out inhuman torture at camp, perpetrating various harassment in the name of searching for extortionists by the law enforcers and security forces while installing check-posts on roads and waterways, indecent behaviour, searching villages, picking up etc. have strengthened.
Terror has been being perpetrated upon the members of the Accord-signatory PCJSS and supporters of the Accord by way of deploying the armed cadres of JSS (MN Larma) and UPDF (democratic), the stooge organizations of the local army and intelligence forces, in Subalong Bazar of Barkal upazila, Tintila of Longadu upazila and in different places under Khagrachari hill district. Alongside, these armed elements are carrying out their extortion of millions of moneys from the people right under eye of the administration and in front of the security forces. On the other hand, taking members and supporters of the Accord-signatory PCJSS arrested irrespectively, filing up fabricated cases against them one after another, taking the bail-granted victims arrested again and sending them back to jail etc. are being executed uninterruptedly. As of this day, PCJSS members have been entangled in more than 100 projected cases and a conspiracy is being ill-attempted to identify the PCJSS as a terrorist organisation.
Dear Journalist Friends,
It may be considered that the government is stubborn to direct the CHT crisis to different course. To that end, the local Awami League leadership, especially, of Rangamati and Bandarban, in league with the state machineries and direct support, by providing shelter and support to the army-backed armed terrorist group known as ‘Reformists’ who are interested to introduce themselves to be JSS (MN Larma) and a split faction of Arakan Liberation Party (ALP), who sometimes introduce themselves to be ‘Mog Liberation Party’- a foreign armed element; and using both the terrorist groups against PCJSS and implementation process of CHT Accord and by them has established a reign of killings, terror, extortion and kidnapping while capitalizing the incidents so perpetrated, irrespective military operation, house searching, atrocities, suppression and oppression upon Jumma people are being carried out throughout CHT. In continuation to this trend, having violated the CHT Accord and existing CHT Regional Council Act and three Hill District Council Act, meetings on law & order in CHT were organized on 16-17 October 2019 in Rangamati; and in presence of the Minister of Home Ministry and Minister of CHT Affairs Ministry in the said meeting, having one-sided allegation of terrorism, conflict, extortion and arms-activities brought against PCJSS, the speakers contributed provocative deliberations and threatening by saying: ‘formidable days are ahead’ in CHT. This ill-effort, on part of the government, has been nothing but to foster extreme fear and terror among the Jumma people as to suppress their demand for implementation of the Accord and to silence their protesting voice against atrocities of the army and law enforcers.
Dear friends from media,
Today the situation in CHT is extremely delicate. The Jumma people are being obliged to abide in unthinkable suppression and oppression, lacking of security and uncertain future. It can safely be concluded that the political party, which had signed in the Accord for political and peaceful resolution sake, it is that political party in the government, which is at its firm stanch to nullify the CHT Accord by identifying the PCJSS as a terrorist and extortionist organization. On occurrence of any incident, having the PCJSS members falsely alleged, hundreds of them have been turned absconding while breaking down the structure of PCJSS and sending many members to jail.
In 70s, having evaluated the CHT crisis in view of ultra-nationalist, undemocratic, colonial and ultra-communal outlook, the 4-point charter of demand for Regional Autonomy of Jumma people was rejected with hatred; the path of suppression and oppression was resorted to; and non-flexible attitude was maintained in fulfilling any demand of the Jumma people. On top of it, all avenues for assertion of right to self-determination under democratic norm were closed down. Similarly, also at the present time, the overall situation of CHT is being pushed by the government towards that direction. At present, all subjects including general administration, law & order and development have been handed over to the army and intelligence agencies. Under this circumstance, it is needless to say that the Jumma people are being governed, exploited, deprived and oppressed in colonial manner.
Dear Journalist friends,
The ordinary people of Bangladesh hardly know about identity and lifestyles of the Jumma people who have been living in for the centuries together. In fact, the ruling class of this country has been keeping the issue of movement of Jumma people for right to self-determination and CHT Accord in dark very consciously and cleverly. Hence, the non-communal and democratic society of this country is not being let know the correct information about the matters that the colonial-style military rule is on-going in CHT; application of might, atrocities and oppression are on; conspiracy to abolish the national entity of Jumma people is undergoing; and throughout the country, there goes an organised drive of ultra-national chauvinism and Islamization. Even no government has ever been noticed to have encouraged the democratic, progressive, humanitarian, non-communal and leftist individuals, organizations and political parties to undertake or implement any program directing to implementation of the Accord and establishment of just rights of the Jumma people; rather the government continues to create obstacle in every step.
Dear Media Friends,
In conclusion, I would like to express a few more words on behalf of the CHT residents with humbleness – as the chief of PCJSS delegation and President of PCJSS that I had signed the CHT Accord at the behest of CHT inhabitants. The inhabitants of CHT had encouraged and inspired me to sign the Accord in the hope of getting a secure life peaceful and free from exploitation and oppression. But even after waiting for prolonged 22 years, the hope and longing of CHT inhabitants have not been fulfilled. That hope is now a far away. The CHT inhabitants cannot forget this. The Jumma people cannot let the CHT Accord go in vain. While leaving aside the political and peaceful policy for resolution of CHT crisis, resorting to trampling down the CHT Accord, getting the outsiders infiltrated, occupying the lands of Jumma people, through military suppression and oppression, closing the doors of all democratic means, entangling the PCJSS members in false cases, turning them to absconding, taking them arrested, killing, holding the Jumma people as hostages and labeling the PCJSS members as terrorists and extortionists − the kind of conspiracy so adopted in the name of resolving the CHT crisis cannot bring in auspicious result in the greater interest of the country.
It is needless to say that the back of PCJSS as well as Jumma has already stuck to the wall as it had been earlier. They are left with no space to move back any further. The Jumma people have waited implementation of the Accord for 22 years. The Jumma people have given a lot of time to the government and ruling class. The Jumma people are feeble and backward in all respects. For being so, they cannot be an object of negligence and to be ignored. The Jumma people long for their rights and salvation and this very aspect is their sole capital. At this critical juncture, the Jumma people are at their firm stance to protect their national entity and entity of their birth land. The Jumma people, as citizens of the country, want to live in with equal rights and equal status. Hence, in perspective of the prevalent situation, they are obliged to ponder deeply as to what could be their Dos. It is needless to say that today, two counter parties are standing face-to-face in CHT. One party wants implementation of the Accord while the other party is about to trample it down.
In fact, there is no alternative except proper implementation of CHT Accord for resolution of CHT crisis.
Many heartiest thanks to you all.
(Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma)
Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti