Appalling development activities of the Kuki-Chin National Development Organization

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Kyawba Marma

We observed that an entity named Kuki-Chin Development Organization (KNDO) was established at Ruma Sadar in 2008. We came to learn that the organization was established at the initiative and leadership of one Nathan Bawm, a lad of Aden village under Ruma Sadar. By then, it was all of a sudden, I happened to learn through print media stating that the program of KNDO was inaugurated by the then 69 Army Region Commander Brigadier Md. Naqib Ahmed Chowdhury (now Military Secretary to the Prime Minister of the government of Bangladesh), as the Chief Guest. I can recall that Mr. Brigadier gave Taka 10,000 in donations for development programs of the organization on that very day. The event led to series of discussions on organizational activities for several days following which the organization maintained silence for many years.

In recent times it is noticed that the KNDO has been transformed into a political organization called the Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF). The organization was prompted to raise a  demand for formation of a Kuki-Chin State incorporating nine upazilas (sub-districts) iof which four upazilas from Rangamati district, namely, Bilaichhari, Jurachhari, Barkal and Baghaichhari, and five upazilas from Bandarban district, namely, Alikadam, Lama, Thanchi, Ruma and Rowangchhari, through the act of which they have employed their best efforts against the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS), the parties and individuals already engaged in the longstanding movement for protection of national entity of the Jumma people  and  establishment of their right to self-determination in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). It is seen all the time that this reactionary design goes on articulating ill propagation and fabricated tales against the PCJSS and its leaders and activists.

Not only this, while showing their own armed force, they have been also intimidating the people with threatening of mass killings as it had been conducted in the past  ̶  the events historically marked as the brutal Kuki riot,  ̶  the head hunting raid. Meanwhile, it has been learnt that the armed members of the military wing of the Kuki-Chin National Front have killed a devoted activist named Action Chakma with an automatic weapon in a surprise attack upon members engaged in the movement for implementation of the Accord. Astonishing enough to notice that the publicity wing of Kuki-Chin National Front is also publicizing themselves to be of peace-loving and pacifist, although the gulf of difference that lies in between their claim and action is easily detectable to any person.

The name of my native upazila, Rowangchari, does also appear as a part of the state claimed by this Kuki-Chin National Front. Before signing of the CHT Accord, i.e. towards 1995-1997, when the movement of Pahari Chhatra Parishad (Hill Students Council) was in full swing, in order to name the Ruma Upazila as Bawm state, a discussion between the Commanding Officer (CO) of Ruma Army Zone and late Lal Ngak Bawm, the then Jatia Party leader who became a Bangaldesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader and also Member of Bandarban Hill District Local Government Council from the Bawm community. The CO of the army zone was heard to have given commitment that the Ruma Upazila would be upgraded to a Bawm State.

Certainly, many people might have knowledge about late Lal Ngak Bawm. He was the wretched to have spoiled the first ever conference of the Hill Students Council in Bandarban and with an intention to meeting out attack upon the Jumma students, carried batons from Lai Para and Faruk Para to Bandarban, in reciprocation to the regime’s plan, mere to meet his personal end.

Instances are not so less in the history where the suzerain authority makes use of the weaker section of the ruled and influential persons thereof to act against interest of the people of own ethnic group and society, and on the other hand, the self-end-seeking individuals also make themselves available to get used and mislead the people of own people and society by various ways and means. As such people of the genre were among the Marma community by then, so were also available among the other communities of the Jumma people. It may be said that it was none but the Marma influential leaders of the time who would lead those self-end-seeking people in Bandarban area.

I am not so sure of how much impact the talk about the illusory promise of establishing a Bawm State in Ruma Upazila had had upon the Bawm society. But I am sorry to say, for various reasons, we did not get mature leader or leadership from the Bawm community in the collective movement for rights of the Jumma people. This does not mean that no student or youth leader has ever emerged from the Bawm community (in respect of bearing good character and leadership quality). But it is a fact that they could not continue for long in the struggle. I remember that the founder president of Ruma Upazila Hill Students Council was an educated Bawm young man with commendable leadership qualities. I can’t recall his name right now. He led the Hill Students Council in Ruma for a year or so and formed the organization there. But he withdrew from the movement for having been threatened by the army authority in one hand while fell into temptation, on the other. After his withdrawal, Hill Students Council of Ruma moved forward under the leadership of Aungthowaiching Marma, the former Chairman of Ruma Upazila Parishad.

After signing of the CHT Accord in 1997, the deal of talk of forming Bawm State got vanished into the air. Afterwards, Loyal David Bawm once member of the Central Committee of Hill Students Council became a nominated member of the CHT Regional Council from among the six nationalities (Bawm, Lushai, Khyang, Pangkhoa, Khumi and Chak) determined in proportion to the population subject to terms of the Accord. The people in the ruling party also tried to keep him cornered by creating various controversies.

In the history of indigenous Jumma people’s struggle for their right to self-determination in CHT, the ruling class has been noticed to have resorted to making fabricated issues incorporating various self-end-seekers and interest-greedy individuals (who have never taken part in the movement or pronounced a single word in favor of  collective interest of indigenous Jumma  peoples) and they have always kept themselves engaged in weakening the Jumma people’s movement by creating unrealistic fantasies imbibed with ultra-nationalist and narrow nationalist thoughts. With such design, the ruling class has always used to keep some ethnic sections of the Jumma people away from the movement or to keep them inactive or to create conflict with each other or to unleash them in rivalry to the movement and even those sinful sons of the Jumma people, also having drawn themselves in fascination made themselves conducive to getting used merely to meet their own petty interests.

But in the end of the game, the ruling class is slowly driving all the Jumma people to the brink of destruction while saving none. The economic, social, cultural and existential spheres of all the ethnic groups of the Jumma peoples are getting manipulated with the continuous shrinkage of the lands day by day. At present, such scenario is being seen to be growing more acutely. But unfortunately, the Jumma people are not in a position to learn a lesson or obtain knowledge even though they see or know what the self-seekers and selfish people are doing or not doing.  There is an adage in the society that goes: “If consciousness does not grow at the age of nine, it does not grow even at the age of ninety.” The case is no longer exceptional to the sons of Jumma people.

It is seen that the Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF) has been transformed from the Kuki-Chin National Development Organization (KNDO). The KNDO or KNF is highlighting about the six ethnic groups from among the Jumma people and they are: Bawm, Khumi, Lusai, Khyang, Pangkhoa and Mro. In their proclaimed State, the lands belonging to their own people are being occupied by the majority population of the ruling class while the people of their defined ethnic groups are being forcibly evicted from their ancestral lands and homesteads and thereby getting endangered; but neither the KNF nor KNA (Kuki-Chin National Army) has come up with any statement on the issue. They have miserably failed to realize that it is the Bangladesh army that acts as the main tool of the ruling class to occupy the lands of Jumma people, and to carry out suppression, oppression, expulsion and exclusion of their rights. It is a factual reality, which is supposed not be difficult for anyone to understand that the labor room of Kuki-Chin National Development Organization lies in the Bandarban Army Brigade Headquarters of the Bangladesh Army is its mother. The president and other leaders of the Kuki-Chin National Development Organization and the Kuki-Chin National Front found their womb in the military cantonment. The KNF and KNA found their mother’s womb with no other government agencies but the army garrison. In view of the context, the Kuki-Chin leaders may be said to be extremely talented and knowledgeable.

I have never seen the Kuki-Chin organizers playing positive role in any movement – be it anti-land grabbing movement, protestation against atrocities upon Jumma people or movement for the establishment of indigenous Jumma people’s rights. If anyone has seen it, they can point it out. The Kuki-Chin organizers were not seen in the movement against acquisition of more than 9,000 acres of lands in five mouzas under Ruma Upazila by the Ruma Army Cantonment authority and in the Long March staged from Ruma to the Press Club in Bandarban district town.

The villages of Faruk Para and Lai Para under Bandarban were being illegally occupied by an army officer. I don’t know, where the Bawm people of those villages would have gone after forcible eviction, had there not been staged a strong protest movement under the PCJSS leadership. I was in that movement myself along with Loyal David Bawm and Chinglamong Chak. It was due to our movement together with the concerned villagers, the lease given to that army officer faced cancellation. I was in that movement myself; were Loyal David Bawm and Chinglamong Chak. It was very unfortunate that we did not get support from any influential Bawm leader or present Kuki-Chin activists by then.

Today, in different places including Lama, Alikadam, Naikhyongchari, Bandarban Sadar, the indigenous Jumma people are overwhelmed with fear as they are losing their lands and being oppressed but the Kuki-Chin leaders are indifferent; they have no interest and no protest against. They are busy in trying to weaken and erect obstacles against the movement for right to self-determination led by the PCJSS through spreading noxious smoke by propagating that the Chakma community or the majority communities have deprived them and in settling rivalry among the ethnic groups of Jumma indigenous peoples. Just ponder over the issue, the feud once gets arisen among the ethnic groups of Jumma peoples, where the demand for Kuki-Chin State will get melted and where will be the ruinous phase of the Jumma people?

Just have a glance over the statements of Kuki-Chin organization. Their statement contains: the Chakmas are enjoying all the facilities and if the Accord is implemented, the Jumma land will become independent. The statement of which is exactly ditto of the statements made public by the military and the ultra-communal quarters. The Mog Party has also been spreading propaganda against the PCJSS by saying that the Chakmas have taken away all the opportunities and extended facilities. They do not even know from whom the rights should be sought or realized. Even they are not in their sense that right now, if the PCJSS abandons the movement, their demands will no longer exist. Such a demand was also made by the Mro National Party (MNP) in the recent past. When the MNP’s activities were at full swing by the time, I was on an organizational tour in Poyamurti area. Even then I observed the anti-PCJSS statement being made by MNP.

I happened to meet many Mros returning from work while passing through a little stream atop the Poyamuri Army Camp, towards Youngring Para (locally called Boubeti). While talking to them, it was learned that they had gone to cut soil for making a helipad since the Brigadier of Bandarban would go there for a visit within a few days. At the time, the MNP leader Mr. Manrum Mro would live a half of an hour walk distance from the Youngring village. Within seven days after our return to Bandarban, Mr. Manrum was killed. Thereafter two or three days, the MNP members surrendered to the army. In Bandarban jail, I happened to meet and talk to several MNP members including Mr. Luhup Mro, the third top leader of that armed wing. They expressed that the administration did not keep its commitment. But the administration became gainer and could reap harvest by showing that various terrorist groups were active in CHT and to that end, it was utmost necessary to continue the militarization and law and order programs for the security sake of the people. Needless to say, this aim is being fulfilled by the army-sponsored armed groups of various titles and the Kuki-Chin National Front has emerged as one of such genre. This is the roadmap of dreadful development activities of the Kuki-Chin party.