On 16 June 2019 third meeting of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Accord Implementation Monitoring Committee was held at Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban in Dhaka. Presided over by Convenor of the CHT Accord Implementation Committee Abul Hasnat Abdullah, the meeting was attended by other two members of the Committee, namely, Jyotirindra Bodhiprya Larma, President of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) and Kujendra Lal Tripura, MP and Chairman of the Task Force on Rehabilitation of Returnee Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons. Besides, Bir Bahadur Shwe Shing, Minister for the Ministry of CHT Affairs (MoCHTA) and Goutam Kumar Chakma, central member of the PCJSS participated in the meeting. In addition, Acting Secretary of MoCHTA Md. Mesbahul Islam, Additional Secretary of the MoCHTA Sudatta Chakma, Personal Secretary of the Comvenor of the CHT Accord Implementation Committee Mohammad Khairul Basar and Senior Assistant Secretary of the MoCHTA Riva Chakma were present in the meeting.
The Meeting starts at 11:30 am by extending greetings to the participants by the Convenor of the CHT Accord Implementation Committee. During the discussion for adoption of the resolution of the 2nd meeting of the Commiittee held on 19 February 2019, President of the PCJSS put following amendments to the resolution:
1. To replace “CHT Regional Council” with “Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti” in the column of implementation authority of Decision No. 8(b).
2. To replace “to the District Council” with “to the Hill District Council through executive order of concerned ministry” in the decision column of Decision No. 8(f).
3. To add “All the temporary camps will be withdrawn by phases and” in the start of decision column of Decision No. 8(g).
4. To add “The subject of Police (Local) will be transferred to the Hill District Council through executive order and Hill District Police will be formed as per the laws” by insering a new Serial No. 8(m).
At the last, the resolution of the 2nd meeting of the Accord Implementation Committee was adopted unanimously by accepting the amendment proposals above-mentioned, except last one (serial no. 4). In request of Convenor of the Accord Implementation Committee, Acting Secretary of the MoCHTA placed progress report of implementation of the decisions adopted in the 2nd meeting are as follows:
(1) Decision 8(a) on coordination of three Hill District Councils (HDCs), CHT Regional Council (CHTRC) and MoCHTA: Acting Secretary of the MoCHTA informed that coordination among three HDCs, CHTRC and MoCHTA continues. As part of process, a meeting between the CHTRC representatives and MoCHTA was held on 15 May 2019 at the MoCHTA conference room. At that time, J B Larma, Chairman of the CHTRC and President of the PCJSS said that despite the CHTRC is bestowed power and function for coordination and supervision, however many functions are being implemented bypassing the CHTRC. In order to comply decisions, Abul Hasnat Abdullah, Convenor of the Accord Implementation Committee directed the MoCHTA and three HDCs to coordinate with the CHTRC.
(2) Decision 8(b) on progress of implementation of the CHT Accord: President of the PCJSS said that the progress report on implementation of the CHT Accord was submitted to the Convenor of the Accord Implementation Committee.
(3) Deceision 8(c) on making consistencies of CHT Regulation of 1900 with CHTRC Act and HDC Acts: In this regard, Acting Secretary of the MoCHTA informed that the CHTRC submitted two recommendations: (a) to cancel the memorandum issued by Special Affairs Division on 29-10-1990 stating that CHT Regulation 1900 shall be effective; and to issue a fresh memorandum stating that the “CHT Regulation 1900 shall be effective to the extent that is in consonance with the laws of three HDC Acts and CHTRC Act framed in light of the CHT Accord.” Acting Secretary also informed that Legislative and Parliamentary Division has sought to have certified copies of two cases and CHTRC assured to supply that certified copies.
(4) Decision 8(d) on finalization of the Rules of the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission: Goutam Kumar Chakma informed that on 1 January 2017 the CHTRC sent a draft of Rules of the Land Commission to the MoCHTA and accordingly, MoCHTA sent it to Land Ministry for finalization on 6 February 2017. Keeping the Rules pending for long time, Land Ministry organised two meetings for finalization of the Rules on 28 March 2019 and 10 April 2019 respectively. He also informed that Land Commission shall resolve the disputes in consonance with the law, custom and practice in force in the CHT. There is definition on ‘existing law’ only in the Land Commission Act, but no definition about ‘existing customs, practices and illegal/forcible occupation’. Hence, a decision was taken to hold next meeting for discussion on recommendations of the CHTRC regarding Rules 1 to Rules 6. Accordingly, Convenor of the Accord Implementation Committee assigned responsibilty to CHT Minister and Secretary for holding meeting by next week for this purpose.
(5) Decision 8(g) on withdrawal of temporary camps: Acting Secretary of the MoCHTA informed that according to the letter of Armed Forces Division dated on 1 October 2009, out of 552 temporary camps, 200 camps were withdrawn. At that time, PCJSS President opined that many camps were redeployed after signing the Accord. He cited an example of establishment of new camp at the premises of Sijak Doar Buddhist Temple in Baghaichari upazila. Convenor of the Accord Implementation Committee directed MoCHTA to send a letter to the army heaquarters in the regard.
(6) Decision 8(h) on cancellation of leases: Acting Secretary of the MoCHTA informed that as per information of Deputy Commissioner of Rangamati district, 8 leases, out of 13 leases, were cancelled due to violation of the conditions by the lease-holders. All the 31 leases were cancelled for failure to comply conditions in Khagrachari district. 416 leases, out of 1871 leases, were cancelled due to violation of the condition in Bandarban district. However, PCJSS President opined that almost all the cancelled leases were reinstated in Bandarban district by bribing and irregularities of the local administration.
(7) Decision 8(i) on holding of regular meeting of the Task Force on Rehabilitation of Returnee Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons: Acting Secretary of the MoCHTA informed that Divisional Commissioner of Chittagong Division was requested to hold meeting of the Task Force regularly and in response to that, Division Commissioner informed that holding of meetings of the Task Force is continuing. At that time, PCJSS President proposed to assign power and function to the Chief Executive Officer of the Task Force for providing secretarial assistance to the Task Force instead of Divisional Commissioner. Convenor of the Accord Implementation Committee directed to the MoCHTA to take action in accordance with the recommendation of the PCJSS President.
(8) Decision 8(j) on creation of posts and appointment of vacant posts of the CHT Accord Implementation Committee, CHTRC and Task Force: Convenor of the Accord Implementation Committee directed to the MoCHTA for taking necessary measures for the same.
(9) Decision 8(k) on seperate office, manpower and allocation of fund for CHT Accord Implementation Committee for running its secretarial functions: Acting Secretary of the MoCHTA informed that financial allocation has been made for CHT Accord Implementation Committee.
Overall Situation: Regarding overall situation in the CHT, the Convenor of the CHT Accord Implementation Committee said that the PCJSS signed CHT Accord with the government. So, the government has the responsibility to provide security to the PCJSS members. The fabricated cases filed against them should be withdrawn. He advised the Minister of the MoCHTA to take necessary measures for withdrawal of false cases lodged against PCJSS members.
Convenor of the CHT Accord Implementation Committee also added that problems in distributing rations to the PCJSS members has been reported in many places. PCJSS President submitted his letter regarding this issue to the Convenor of the CHT Accord Implementation Committee and Minister of the MoCHTA. He directed to the Acting Secretary of the MoCHTA to take necessary action so that PCJSS members can receive their rations without problem.
Remarks: It is observed that the government did not take necessary action in implementing the decisions of the meetings of the CHT Accord Implementation Committee, Task Force on Rehabilitation of Returnee Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons and CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission. For instance, in 2018, five high level meetings regarding implementation of CHT Accord, such as, a meeting between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and President of PCJSS Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma in January 2018, two meetings of CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission in February and June 2018, a meeting of CHT Accord Implementation Monitoring Committee in April 2018 and a meeting of Task Force on Rehabilitation of Returnee Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons in September 2018 etc. were held. Even one meeting each of Accord Implementation Committee and CHT Land Commission respectively was held in February 2019 and in March 2019. But it is alleged that the government did not take necessary action for implementation of the decisions of these meetings.