J H Lauren Bawm
The Pahari Chhatra Parishad (Hill Students Council) enters its 33rd year of glorious historical struggle. It continues to aspire to keep the Jumma student society united ideologically based on four pillars – Education, Unity, Equality and Progress in the struggle for establishment of right to self-determination. Ever since the very inception, Pahari Chhatra Parishad (PCP) has kept onward marching undaunted along the path of struggle against all forms of anti-humanity designs including the state-run suppression and oppression. The PCP aims to achieve the objectives directing to preserve the basic rights of the oppressed, exploited and excluded Jumma people. The PCP came to existence on 20 May amidst the agitation and protest of hill students against barbaric massacre meted out upon the Jumma people of Longadu on 4 May 1989. Most unfortunate to mention that the killers had been though identified, have not yet been brought to trial even after 33 years of the hair-raising hellish genocide.
The conscious youth-student society also had its role and spontaneous participation in the armed struggle that lasted for prolonged two decades. Besides, the youth-student society of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) also had participation in all the progressive movements waged for realization of democratic rights at the national level. The youth-student society, having amalgamated under the flag of PCP has built up resistance against conspiracy and aggressive suzerainty of the ruling class. We have also noticed as much the gravity of atrocities and tyranny of the ruling class got escalated, the PCP leaders and activists have offered resistance with more firmness.
The most significant governing right of the self-determination of the Jumma peoples was attained through signing of historic CHT Accord on 2 December 1997. To say, we had been able to make the government sign the CHT Accord but at the cost of immeasurable sacrifice, self-sacrifice of hundreds of martyrs and in exchange of self-dignity of innumerable mothers and sisters. CHT Accord is the historic Charter of Rights of the Jumma peoples. But the government has proved itself to have resorted to extreme fraudulence and spelled abject failure to implement the CHT Accord.
I am stunned to see that the ruling Awami League Party though speaks of democracy very often, is steering along the reckless suppressive path following the foot print of the military juntas foregone in 1980s. The military rule is prevailing in CHT for decades. The basic human rights of the Jumma peoples have been being trampled beneath the heavy boots and weapons under administration of the Generals for the decades together. The ‘Operation Dabanal’ (Operation Wildfire) by merit of which the military rule used to run before signing the Accord, has now renewed as ‘Operation Uttoron’ (Operation Upliftment). Various ethnic-based organizations have been sprouted afresh to spoil the unity and integrity among the indigenous ethnic groups of the Jumma peoples. The prime task of those sprouted organization is to oppose the Accord and conduct ill propagation against the PCJSS.
The Marma Liberation Party widely known as Mog Party and the Kuki-Chin National Front known as Bawm Party are the two organizations created afresh by some of the pro-Jammat-E-Islami ultra- communal army officials and local Awami League leaders, are one kind of the genre. In recent days, it is noticed that the ill propagation being articulated by the Bawm Party on the Facebook social media reveals that the extent they voice for the rights is for name sake but they are strongly vocal in spreading motivated propaganda against the CHT Accord and majority ethnic groups of the Jumma peoples and over all, they are found busy in slandering the personal issues of PCJSS leaders and leadership by way of telling fabricated tales.
This has unmasked the mean political character of the Bawm Party. Propaganda of this kind, once, used to be performed by the anti-Accord communal leaders and workers of the Muslim settlers and now, these tasks have been taken in lease by the newly-army-created Bawm Party. The Bawm Party, itself, is publicly articulating that the army is their lord; they have confidence in the army and their agenda lies in the army, whereas it is army, the pioneer agency that is playing the key role of ethnic cleansing of the Jumma people – through which the Jumma people have easily comprehended political agenda of Bawm Party. Now, it necessitates to unveil their scheme and mask of their fake identity. It is urgent to reject with hatred those rogues who bring the dignity of respective ethnic people under knees just to meet their narrow selfish end at the cost of immersing national collective interest of CHT. The youth-student society must have to be conscious of their brazen political bluff and somersault.
It is the saga of just 12 years ago – everything that had happened under eye sight. There was given birth to a sprouted organization named Mro National Party (MNP) or in other words Mro Bahini (Mro Forces). Afterwards, the surrender drama of Mro Bahini was staged with great pomp in Kurukpata area of Alikadam at 2:00 pm on 5 November 2015. Alluring to financial support, conversion program of some Tripura indigenous people into Islam was undertaken and an organization named: “Tiger Liberation Bangladesh Tripura” was created but that could not last for a long time. The Mro leaders who would claim themselves to be lovers of own race, have never ever been seen to have raised their voices against land grabbing, suppression, oppression and eviction of the Mro people from their ancestral land. In continuation to that trend, the Mog Party and Bawm Party have been given birth to sprouted organizations.
The ruling class always brings forth various pleas to expand militarization and military strength. These sorts of organizations are sprouted to substantiate the escalation of military exercises in CHT claiming that the law & order situation in CHT is very delicate; terrorist activities prevail elsewhere; the incidents of killings, kidnapping and extortion are overwhelming, etc. Hence, there is necessity to establish and expand the military stations – argument raised and it is for this purpose the sprouting organizations are being created. At this, by getting the organizations employed in extortion, some army officials are thickening their pockets. On the other hand, the opportunity of getting promoted to higher ranks remains open through staging fake drama of intercepting terrorists and recovery of arms. Alongside, secret missions of kidnapping, realization of ransom, killing and making disappearance of PCJSS leaders and activists and pro-Accord Jumma people are being conducted by inciting the terrorists belonged to the sprung up organizations. With employing these sprouted organizations is a continual form of deep conspiracy to weaken or thwart down the Jumma people’s movement for their right to self-determination.
Today, it is as clear as the day to the Jumma peoples that proper implementation of the CHT Accord is the only way to get rid of military steam roller and establishment of democratic governance in the hills. Expectation for perennial peace will find no meaning if democracy has not been determined with establishment of good governance through implementation of the Accord. Needless to mention that Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, President of PCJSS and also Chairman (State Minister Status) of CHT Regional Council is striving relentlessly to establish perennial peace, democracy and good governance in the hills, but the way of inhuman and undemocratic behavior the government has begun to exert physical might or application of force in dealing with the Jumma people necessitates to put to an end. Such behavior is ultra-communal, undemocratic, race hating, one-eyed and racially aggressive. Let there be a total stop to arrogant behavior of ultra-Bengali national chauvinism, fraudulence and deception to disregard and suppress the just right of the Jumma peoples.
If all avenues of survival with self-identity and self-respect are blocked, then harder movement and struggle become inevitable. This the universal truth in the history of mankind. Everybody must take a lesson from the history. Jum lands and hills, the lands of our ancestors now sustain severe wounds of bare paws of outsider land robbers and forest eaters. None of us is in good shape. Today, we have become empty as we have lost our homesteads, plantations and lands for cultivation of traditional Jum. We are just leading a traumatic life with pauses of breathing, overburdened with intolerable hardships and uncertainty ahead. Our life and livelihood is flattened beneath the heavy boots and weapons.
Needless to say, the Jumma people are not anti-development. This is just an ill propagation on part of a vested quarter in the government. We are in favor of pro-people development. But we protest against the development imposed from above in the name of so-called development to attain mean objectives while ignoring opinion of the people. We have experienced: construction of military stations in the homesteads after eviction; eviction in the name of forestation; and many incidents of eviction and land occupation through conducting communal and arson attacks by the settlers. The Jumma people do not want such race-ruining, culture hating and anti-environmental developments.
The right to determine own development by self is a recognized practice in every democratic country and every national has the right by default. To that end, the provision of introducing a special governance system incorporating the three Hill District Councils with the CHT Regional Council atop has been accommodated in the CHT Accord; to devolve political, administrative, economic power and functions including general administration, law & order, police, land & land management, forest & environment, tourism and so on to these councils. As per the Accord, we want to have devolved the political, administrative and economic power and functions to the CHT Regional Council and the three Hill District Councils and through the proper and special governance system having determined our own development by ourselves, we want a pro-people, environment friendly, cultural balanced and sustainable development.
The land issue comprises as the key and complicated aspects of the CHT crisis. The government has retained the land problem alive as yet. Alongside, problems afresh are being created, in addition. The settlement program of the outsider Muslim continues as an open secret. Today, the very root of national existence of the Jumma peoples is being pulled out. This is the harsh reality to them and the ruthless reality is being reflected at all the fronts by now. The government is all set to destroy the unique tradition of the Jum hills of the Jumma peoples forever. Hence, if the national entity of the Jumma peoples is to be preserved, we have no way to escape leaving the streets and green Jum hills behind.
Let the youth society be inspired by Jumma nationalism. Let the vision of progress be expanded. Let the struggle for the establishment of the right to self-determination begin a new chapter at an irresistible pace. Let the flame of consciousness remain ever burning. May all the conspiracies against the CHT Agreement be burnt in the spark of that consciousness.