Hill Tracts Chittagong- where is the end of clashes?

  Hill tracts chittagong- one tenth area of our Bangladesh. Several times there are clashed between trival and bengali people because of land and sometimes for power. Recently we have noticed that for a silly fact tribal and bengali students were clashed in Rangamati college. But one thing that we always observed, after any fact- big or small,  some tribal groups, national and foreign aboriginal organizations, JSS (Jana Sanghati Samiti)-UPDF (United People’s Democratic Front) leaders, christian missionaries rise their voice on blindly support to tribal people and every year after the 9th August that is, in ‘aboriginal day’- they want to farewell the settled bangali families from hill tracts and want to separate the chittagong from Bangladesh. They excite normal tribal and bengalis besides their organization’s people. But the question is where is the end of this situation? what’s the solution? First of all before  giving any  solution for this haphazard situation first we have to know the history of hill tracks, initial cause of  present violence and give focus on ‘peace contact’ by Santu Larma. The late Chakma king Tridev Roy explained the hurtness, dissatisfy of tribal people in his book ‘The Departed Melody (PPA publications, islamabad, pakistan july 2003). He said forcely that- ‘after 1971, only for bengali natonalism in every sector and in constitution of new country upset tribals. Then politically they became neglected and constitutionaly become cornered’. Yes, at that time no constitutional safeguards were provided for tribals families. Next in explaining about the chakma’s situation He wrote in a headline ‘traumas of the chakmas’ that –‘widespread repression and atrocities during Mujib regime were committed by Rakkhi Bahini (paramalitary security force of the post-independent government) against the tribal people….., at a rally at Rangamati, Sheikh Mujib declared that all tribal people would be known as bengali and would have no other identity’. That behaviour create dissatisfy in tribal families. But Government didn’t take any step to calm them. And finally  that dissatisfaction take a face of separation.


Once upon a time, the Chittagong Hill Tracts known as ‘excluded area’, had a separate status as a ‘tribal area’. In 1760 the Mughol Governor of Bangla province handover  the chittagong district to East India company. Then after a century, in 1860 British founded ‘Hill Tracts Region’ with some areas of chittagong. Then in 1900 the British govt. made some regulations, rules, permission for hill tracts chittagong which was known as ‘hill tracts manuals’. Next in 1935 according to act 92 Hill Tracks declared as ‘excluded area’ and this title was unchanged also into pakistani contitution in 1956. And in 1962 according to article 222 and 223 of constitution the hill tracks chittagong remained as a ‘tribal area’. But after written a new contitution of independent Bangladesh all previous titles are normally canceled. But it was noticed that- no constitutional safeguards were provided for tribal people in the new constitution. and we can say, that was the start of enternal upset of tribal people. Then at 15 th february 1972, a team leaded by Manabendra Narayan Larma met with Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and told for four demands-

1/ Establish self governance and special rule making institution in Hill Tracks Chittagong.

2/ Retention of the Chittagong Hill Tracks Regulations 1900.

3/ The chambers of tribal kings should be reinstated.

4/ The correction of ‘Hill Tracks Chittagong Regulation 1900’ should be banned and making a rule for bengali so for that they can’t settle in  Hill Tracts.

(Colected from the verdict of High court, delivered at 2007)


But with the name of ‘self governance’ the demand of separation and driving away of settled bengali were rejected by the government. Then at 7th March 1972, under the leadership of M.N.larma, an organization PCJSS ( parbotto chottogram jana sanghati samiti) were formed. And later on 7th January 1973 this organization formed an armed force named ‘Shanti Bahini’ (peace force) and this Shanti Bahini became a guerilla force against govt after death of President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975 at 15th August. Till then to now this force, making instigation to separate our beautiful land Chittagong from our country.


Then to calm the entire anger of tribals and making a bonding of relationship the late president Ziaur Rahman took decision for mixing bengali and tribal people in Hill Tracts. Actually President’s that act was necessary for protection of Bangladesh. He settled landless bengali families in the sparsely populated areas of the hills. In February 1980 truckloads of poor Bengali families mainly from northern Bangladesh poured into hill tracts by the government scheme they were provided by five acres of hills land, four acres of mixed land and 2.5 acres of paddy land. But now the tribals want to drive away this government settled bengalis. They told Bengalis as foreigner  and introduce themselves as aboriginal people. But the true is our little assemblies lives in hills are not aboriginal. The famous anthropologist Morgan mentioned the definition on his book- ‘An introduction to Anthropology’, (1972). He said- ‘the aboriginals are the group of human race who have been residing in a place from time immemorial……….. They are the true sons of the soil’. But our tribal people are not the son of the soil. They came from near and far places to our Chittagong. And according to definition the ‘Boomerang’ people of Australia, ‘Maori’ of New zealand and similarly ‘Inca’, ‘Amazon’, ‘Maya’ of America are the aboriginal people. Actually some national and international aboriginal organization create pressure to government and want to separate this land.


Now it is important to discuss about the rules of self governance and peace contract. Because now a days Chakma leader Santu Larma want to established it in Chittagong and create pressure to sheikh Hasina government again and again. Before the peace cotract in 1997 an law was passed in 1989 on about ‘local government’ in three area. – Bandarban, Rangamati and Khagrachori. But a point is noted that many leaders of three areas were signed except the leaders of ‘jana sanghati samiti’. After a long political processing at 2 December, 1997 the PCJSS and NCCHT (National Committee on Chittagong Hill Tracts) signed a contract on ‘Regional assembly’ (ancholik porishad) which is known as ‘peace contract’. And in 24th May 1998 the parliament pass the law named ‘Hill Tracts Chittagong regional assembly Law 1998’. But the truth is this assembly may create a self governance land and our constitution don’t support of any self-governance in Bangladesh (article no.1 of constitution). So, contract on ‘regional assembly’  issue is simple a fraud with constitution. On the other hand the peace contract 1997 go beyond the 145 no article of constitution because this contract were not sign between two independent groups or organizations or countries. And there is no reflection of bargaining of any amount. It is noticed that this contract were not between the whole tribal people, because jana sanghati are not the voice of all tribal and bengali people. This organization tells only about their own benefit and separation. Few days ago  on this issue a tribal people said they don’t want any pahari-bengali clash. They have no problem in live with bengalis. Yeah, sometimes because of land there create some disappoint, but these tribal organization give instigate to normal  people against own country.  So, this type of one sided contract should not be fulfilled. On the other hand by the name of self governance the tribal organizations don’t want the presence of  army in hill tracks. But it is true that our armies are not like that Rakkhi bahini whose are against tribal people but our army always protect all people of hill tracts. They maintain peace in that area and guard our border. Recently at 23th October 2012, two tribal groups clashed because of spreading power on land. But with the presence of army the situation was became calm. One point also noted that if army are withdraw from hill tracts then various guerilla groups may be raised and spreading their control on that area.


We must concerned about the activities of christen missionaries, in hill track Chittagong. Because- they target the poor people of hill tracks, show the cupidity of money and job, then convert them into christen religion. The Daily AmarDesh pulished a report at 22th August 2011 on this issue. It was reported that in Khagrachori, Bandarban almost in ten to twelve years the missionaries converted about 10 thousand families into christen religion. We know how the christen missionaries worked in East Timor and separate it from Indonesia. Actually the people who change their religious identity for money or job, they may also become treacherous to their country. So the government should give facilities with education, health, agriculture to those poor tribals, monitoring the work of various international organizations. So that the missionaries can’t use their poverty as a shield.


We know, recently the government make 13 corrections in land law but it is said from the land ministry  that if this law become effective in future then not only settled bengali people but also government become enactive  in Hill Tracts Chittagong. We know that there are many local and foreign pressure  on government on this issue but as all people of Bangladesh are unity so government should not afraid. We know. last year at 16th May in aboriginal forum, at New York the government focused the real identity in front of the world. So we hope that our government will take a perfect and right decision, solving land problem- which don’t divide but bond together, bring a peaceful situation in Hill Tracks Chittagong.


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