Hill Voice, 9 December 2021, Special Correspondent: The fifth meeting of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Accord Implementation and Monitoring Committee was held on 7 December 2021 at 11.30 am at the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban in Dhaka. The meeting was chaired by Abul Hasanat Abdullah, MP and Convener of the Committee, and was attended by two other members of the Committee, Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, President of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) and Kujendra Lal Tripura, MP and Chairman of the Task Force on Rehabilitation of India-returnee Tribal Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons.
Besides, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal and CHT Affairs Minister Bir Bahadur Ushwe Sing were also present in the meeting. Secretary of the Ministry of CHT Affairs Mosammat Hamida Begum and other senior officials of the ministry were present. The fifth meeting was convened after almost two and a half years since the fourth meeting of the Accord Implementation Committee held on 16 June 2019.
It is known from the relevant sources that the subjects, such as, approval of the minutes of the last meeting, implementation of decisions of the last meeting, transfer of subjects to three Hill District Councils through Executive Order, withdrawal of all temporary camp, formulation of Rules of CHT Land Commission, anti-people directives of the Armed Forces Division regarding traditional Jum cultivation including ginger and turmeric, controversial advice of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the visit of the Ambassador of Denmark to Rangamati, withdrawal of cases filed against members and supporters of PCJSS, illegal directives of the CHT Ministry for inclusion of Deputy Commissioners in the Teacher Recruitment Committee of the Hill District Councils, etc. were discussed in the meeting.
The Land Ministry has informed the meeting that the Rules of the CHT Land Commission is still under process for more consultation. On the other hand, it was discussed in the meeting that no progress in implementing the transfer of subjects to three Hill District Councils through Executive Order, immediate withdrawal of all temporary camps, transfer of ‘Police (Local)’ subject to the Hill District Councils through Executive Order and formation of Hill District Police Force as per law, withdrawal of cases filed against members and supporters of PCJSS, etc. have been made so far.
According to relevant sources, the meeting decided to cancel the directive of the CHT Affairs Ministry to include the Deputy Commissioners in the Teacher Recruitment Committee of the Hill District Councils as it was illegal. It is was opined in the meeting that the Hill District Councils have its regulations and according to the regulations, the Hill District Councils will appoint teachers.
Although it was decided to submit the full list of temporary camps withdrawn as per CHT Accord to the Accord Implementation Committee in the last meeting, but only the number of Upazila-based withdrawn camps was submitted from the army headquarters. It is learnt that the meeting again decided to send a letter to the army headquarters to provide the full list of withdrawn camps with the name of the camp withdrawn.
At that time, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal attended the meeting prior to start of the discussion on the overall situation in the CHT. Home Minister then raised the issue of setting up new police camps in the hill districts.
Santu Larma, one of the members of the Accord Implementation Committee and President of PCJSS, opposed the Home Minister’s opinion. He said setting up police camps on the site of the withdrawn army camp would be a direct violation of the CHT Accord. He said previous meetings of the Committee had decided to “transfer the police (local) subject to the Hill District Councils through the executive order and to form the Hill District Police Force in accordance with the law”. Accordingly, he expressed the view that it was essential to form police forces in the three hill districts as per the CHT Accord.
While discussing the overall situation of the CHT, Santu Larma raised the issue of anti-people directives of the Armed Forces Division regarding traditional Jum cultivation including ginger and turmeric and the controversial letter of the Foreign Ministry during the visit of the Danish Ambassador to Rangamati. It is learnt from the relevant sources that Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal and Abul Hasnat Abdullah, Convener of the Accord Implementation Committee, were also surprised to hear such controversial and racial directives. They are of the view that if such anti-public interest and politically motivated letter is received by the ministry, then there is no reason to forward it to the various authorities directly without any consideration.
Santu Larma raised the issue of conspiracy of a vested group against the effectiveness of the CHT Regulation of 1900. It is to be mentioned that Justice of the High Court, SK Sinha, ruled that the CHT Regulation of 1900 was not a dead law but alive law. A self-interested group recently filed an appeal against this verdict in the Appellate Division. In this regard, a decision was taken in the meeting to take legal action on behalf of the government in favor of the effectiveness of the CHT Regulation of 1900.
In the meeting, it was decided to form a committee in the CHT Affairs Ministry to withdraw the cases filed against the members and supporters of PCJSS. Discussions were held in the meeting to implement the decision taken at the third meeting of the Committee regarding the creation of posts and filling up of vacancies in the CHT Accord Implementation Committee, CHT Regional Council and Task Force, the relevant sources confirmed.