Discussion meeting on the occasion of the 26th anniversary of CHT Accord in Agartala

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Hill Voice, 2nd December 2023, Agartala: Today 2nd December 2023 a discussion meeting titled “Human Rights Situation of the Minority in Bangladesh: In the Light of the 26th Anniversary of the historic Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord” was organized by “Campaign for Humanity Protection” (CHP) at the Agartala Press Club.

CHP member Priyalal Chakma moderated and CHP president Niranjan Chakma presided over the discussion meeting where Sanjib Dev, Editor of North East Color magazine was present as the chief guest. Apart from that, Usha Ranjan Mog, former Vice Principal of Ramthakur College Professor Dr. Rabindra Dutta, veteran journalist Srota Ranjan Khisa, Nayan Jyoti Tripura and Biman Jyoti Chakma were also present as special guests.

In the speech of the chief guest, Sanjib Dev said, if we judge the context of the misery that the people of CHT have to live with, I can see that the mistake lies in the time when the country was divided after our independence, due to the mistakes or negligence of our national leaders. As a result, even though the country was divided on the basis of religion, CHT were included in Pakistan that day, despite 97 percent of CHT being non-Muslims. But on that day the people of CHT protested and kept up the Indian flag for almost three days. But unfortunately, our Indian leadership did not feel the need to interfere in that matter that day. As a result of which today the people of CHT have to face an anarchic situation.

He also said, we have seen that the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) was born out of a historical necessity after being deprived for a long time. After the party was formed under the leadership of Manbendra Narayan Larma, there was resistance. But in spite of that, due to the killing, arson and various tortures by the Bangladesh government, CHT tribal people have to spend their life as refugees in this state of Tripura.

Later, the historic CHT Accord was signed on 2 December 1997. Today marks 26 years of that agreement. The agreement was made in the hope that if this agreement is implemented, the people there will be able to live in peace, with human values. But unfortunately, even after 26 years it has not been implemented. When the government that came to power could not show sincerity to implement this historic Accord. Bangladesh government has not implemented most of the 72 clauses of the Accord.

Special guest Usha Ranjan Mog said that there are a total of 48 small castes in Bangladesh including CHT, they are called tribals. In CHT Hill Tribes constituted 89.91% in 1947 and only 9.09% were “Non-Tribes”. In CHT of Bangladesh 87% in 1961, 80.79% in 1974, 61.07% in 1981, 51.43% in 1991 Hill Tribes. On the other hand, “Non-tribes” increased from 9.09% in 1956 to over 48% in 1991. I don’t know maybe it has gone above 52% now. For example, religious Buddhists have dropped from 85% in 1947 to below 50% in 2011, Hindus from 10% in 1947 to 1% or less. The demographic change here is clearly noticeable. He also said that land is being dispossessed in CHT. The tribals are being evicted.

Srota Ranjan Khisa said, you all know more or less how human rights are being violated in CHT. In the CHT, tribals have been continuing movement democratically to protect their existence. They signed a historic agreement with the Bangladesh government on December 2, 1997 to protect their land and self-determination, but the government has not implemented it even after 26 years. Rather, they are still under military rule. Their existence is on the verge of crisis today.

He also said that during the partition of the country in 1947, despite having a 98% non-Muslim majority, the CHT was annexed to the Muslim-majority East Pakistan unfortunately, which was supposed to be annexed to India. Since 1947, Muslim Bengalis have been settling in the CHT since its accession to Pakistan, which has not stopped even today. I have grown old and I have seen with my own eyes that the majority tribes of 1947 have turned into minorities in 2023, displaced in their own land. If this continues, it will not be long before the tribal area of CHT becomes a Muslim Bengali dominated area in the near future.

He also said that the Bangladesh government must be forced to implement the historic peace agreement to protect the tribals of the CHT and urged all the tribals of India to come forward.

Dr. Rabindra Dutta said that although 26 years have passed today, only one-third of the CHT Accord has been implemented. Although the land problem is supposed to be resolved as per the Accord, but land is being dispossessed continuously. Tribal villages and land are being set on fire for land grabbing. The Daily Star reported on 30 April 2022 that arson attack had killed birds, hill streams was poisoned, and fish was killed. Land leases have been given to non-locals there. People are being oppressed because of this lease. He said that this type of discussion meeting should be organized one after another so that concerns can be presented to the government of Bangladesh.

In the president’s speech, Niranjan Chakma said that in the Accord there is a provision to protect the land of Jumma people and to return the dispossessed land. The Accord also stipulated that the settlers who were settled down from the plain districts in the CHT would be relocated from the CHT. The government said they could not write anything into the treaty about the settlers. But they will relocate the settlers to plain land. But the settlers have not been taken back even in the last 26 years. Rather, attacks, murders, disappearances, rapes etc. are happening on Jumma people with the help of settlers.

He also said that the Accord also stated that all temporary camps except 6 cantonments will be withdrawn. Although some camps have been withdrawn, the government is at present setting up more new camps. The Accord provides for the establishment of autonomy in the CHT with the powers and functions of Regional Council and three Hill District Councils. That too has not been implemented yet. President Niranjan Chakma said that the implementation of the CHT Accord is necessary for the establishment of peace in CHT and a political solution to the hill problem.

The discussion meeting was attended by people from different areas including Sabrum, Gandachara, Longtlai Valley, Chamanu.