Hill Voice, 28 February 2020, Dhaka: Language and cultural Diversity Festival-2020 of Dhaka University Jum Literature and Cultural Society (DUJLCS), a cultural organization to represent the indigenous cultures of the Jumma students of University of Dhaka from the Chittagong Hill tracts, was held on the premises of University of Dhaka. With the help of Association for land Reforms & development (ALRD), Kapaeeng Foundation, a human rights organization for Indigenous peoples of Bangladesh and International Labour Organization (ILO) in this program The Dean of the faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Dhaka, Professor Dr. Sadeka Halim was present as the chief guest. Also, prominent indigenous researcher and writer Pavel Partha, Executive Director of Kapaeeng foundation Pallab Chakma, general secretary of Bangladesh Indigenous Cultural Forum (BICF) Chandra Tripura and central member of DUCSU Chibol Sangma were present as guests. The program was Chaired by the vice-president of DUJLCS, Thoyai Nu Aung Chak (Keny) and conducted by Jashoya Dewan, general secretary of DUJLCS. The organizational secretary of the organization, Ratul Tanchangya, gave the welcoming speech.
In his welcome speech, Ratul Tanchangya states that, the program has arranged to represent the art, literature and culture of the Indigenous people living in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in the premises of the University of Dhaka. Moreover, he also said that a number of programs are arranged as an endeavor to create a bridge between the Indigenous Culture and the main stream Bengali Culture and ‘Language and literature diversity festival-2020’ is one of them.
During her address as guest speaker, the general secretary of Bangladesh Indigenous Cultural Forum Chandra Tripura notes that, our youth has to think and act thoroughly so that the indigenous cultural struggle continues to move forward. She also recommends that if we (the youth) only blame others; we will not be able to save our culture. Because if we do not preserve our culture, nobody will. She improvises that the struggle to save our language and cultural right should start from the very road where we are often harassed verbally due to our face and language. She emphasized not to get excited hearing those abusive words rather tell them about the indigenous language and culture.
Central member of DUCSU, Chibol Sangma states that, the spirit of 21 February does not signify within a language only, its magnitude is huge. So, he advices everybody to practice his/her own language. On the other hand, while addressing the present context of the University of Dhaka he says, we have not been able to represent the indigenous languages in the university campus. There are 23 organizations in TSC (teacher-student centre) and sadly, there is none to represent us. Then he expressed his sorrow that we (indigenous students) ourselves have not been able to represent the indigenous people properly. The DUCSU leader thus emphasizing on the importance and necessity of an organization to represent the indigenous people, recommends DUJLCS to continue its efforts.
In his speech Pallab Chakma suggests the indigenous students to make more friends (Bengali) who take the issues of the indigenous as their own. He also thinks that the most advanced minds study in the University of Dhaka. So, it is the indigenous students of this institution who should come forward to address the different issues of the indigenous peoples. Addressing the indigenous students as ‘Ambassadors’, he encouraged them to present the positive sides of the life and culture of the Indigenous people to their varsity mates. Because these friends will in future be the corporates and bureaucrats who will lead the country. Thus, the positive mindset about the indigenous peoples with which they brought up will reflect in their future activities. The indigenous students of the University of Dhaka mostly populated with Chakma, Marma and Tripura students in the past. But nowadays the presence of Mro, Chak and Khumi students has enriched the campus and so, he believes that Bangladesh will surely progress with this power of Diversity.
In his guest note prominent indigenous researcher and writer Pavel Partha has expressed his sorrows as the indigenous youth are gradually losing the different cultural elements and forgetting the use of different indigenous musical instruments. According to him, the different structures and institutions of the state rather than the indigenous society is responsible for the loss of these cultural elements.
He also reminded everyone the bitter truth that Dhaka was home to many indigenous places. One of them is Moghbazar which was Rakhaine populated, another one is Monipuri para where the National Assembly has been established, another one is Tejturi para where the country’s first airport has been established was home to the Turi Indigenous community, the National Press Club where the Robidas Indigenous people used to live and all these instances were done by force. The researcher argues the change of all the names of the Indigenous communities as an interesting matter and complains about the fact that even all the indigenous areas have been given a Bengali name to it.
In her speech, Chief guest Dr. Sadeka Halim expresses her dissatisfaction as the world is going through such a phase where we can see all types of discrimination. As she continues, when we talk about discrimination, we like to tactfully analyze the positive sides of these to alleviate these discriminations. According to her, it is not the Corona Virus rather the political turmoil using the religion as a tool has poisoned the earth and it is certainly not expected. But still we can see examples of Hindus and Muslims who are guarding their village together which gives us a very positive learning, says the Social Scientist. She adds that she had spent a long period of her life with her indigenous friends during research. This research has not only been a research rather it has brought her closer to her indigenous friends. She also believes that this has created a place of trust and faith on her by the indigenous people which is the result of long hardship and intimacy. She also recommends to strengthen the unity and interaction between the indigenous students.
The discussion came to an end through the speech of the chair of the program, Thowai Nu Aung Chak (Keny). Besides in the day-long program, a photography exhibition titled ‘Ek Tukro Parbotto Chattogram’(A glimpse of Chittagong Hill tracts) was arranged which signified and portrayed the life and struggle of the indigenous communities in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Then a debate between the indigenous students of 1st and 2nd year of University of Dhaka held where the theme was, ‘Indigenous Languages and Culture are being lost due to Cultural Aggression’. Indigenous students of different communities also expressed their feeling in their own language. Then, a magnificent cultural program followed the discussion session.
Finally, electing Ratul Tanchangya as the president, Nuthowai Marma as the general secretary and Aitizya Chakma as the organizational secretary, a new committee of 45 members DUJLCS was announced. The theme of the Language and Literature Diversity Festival of 2020 was- ‘the freedom of Language and culture through the power of diversity’.