Parbatya Chattagram Nagorik Parishad: a new drama of the ruling class

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Photo: Blockade of CHT Land Commission Office by Parbatya Chattagram Nagorik Parishad

Nipon Tripura

What is new about the conspiracy of the ruling classes and state forces in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) today? There is no end to the state conspiracy against the Jumma people of the CHT even after the formation of independent Bangladesh starting from that British rule. Even before formation of the Parbatya Chattagram Nagorik Parishad (CHT Citizens’ Council), many communal organizations of Muslim settlers were formed under state patronage. Such as Mukhosh Bahini (Mask Forces), Parbatya Gono Parishad, Sama Odhikar Andolan, Parbatya Bangali Chhatra Parishad and many other organizations. The Jumma people have fought against them, there was resistance. The Jumma people have always won this battle. Moreover, State-aided these organizations formed on basis of false ground have not been able to achieve continuity over time.

When these organizations became weak, they (the government & the state) give birth to new organizations. Last year (December 2019), under the auspices of the ruling party, a settler organization named Parbatya Chattagram Nagarik Parishad (Chittagong Hill Tracts Citizen’s Coucnil) with self-claimed followers of the spirit of the liberation war was formed, abolishing many such lame organisations, such as, Parbatya Gono Parishad (Hill People’s Council), Parbatya Bangali Chhatra Parishad (Hill Bengali Student Council), Bangali Chhatra Oikya Parishad (Bengali Student Unity Council), Parbatya Chattagram Sama Odhikar Andolon (Chittagong Hill Tracts Equal Rights Movement), etc., which is part of a deeper state conspiracy against the Jumma people.

In a press conference on 29 August, the leaders of this communal organization (Nagorik Parishas) claimed that they are people who believe in the spirit of the liberation war. But their language is full of communalism. Even, the history of the leaders believing in the spirit of the freedom fighters shows that none of them were born in the CHT. They are all illegal infiltrators in the CHT in the eighties. This organization is just a settler organization, whose job is to implement the agenda of the ruling classes.

For example, the birthplace of Engineer Al-Akkas Mahmud, the chief of the organization, is not in the CHT. He did not participate in any liberation war. Secretary General of the organisation Alamgir Kabir is the former mayor of Baghaichhari municipality. During his tenure as mayor, he had embezzled money and was involved with sexual abuse of women who filed lawsuits against him. The biggest incident was to demand extortion from Ushatan Talukder, a former MP from Rangamati constituency and to threaten him to death. A case was also filed in the Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court in this regard. He is also not a freedom fighter on paper.

Vice President of the organisation Kazi Mujibur Rahman was expelled from the post of General Secretary of Bandarban district Awami League. The Bandarban district Awami League expelled him from the party for various financial corruption, land grabbing and immoral activities involving women. Another leader Abul Kalam Azad, Chairman of Alikadam Upazila Parishad is involved with various scams. Among them, the eviction of indigenous Mro and Chak people from their ancestral land, embracing Mro’s widow at a reception last year, arresting him from Chittagong by DB police in 2018 for his involvement in Myanmar’s separatist organizations and anti-sovereignty activities, etc. were remarkable.

Followers of the Spirits of the Liberation War

Golam Mohammad Quader’s article ‘Spirit and Reality of Liberation War’ published in Daily Prothom Alo on 3 February 2015 said, “Nowadays, two words ‘Spirits of Liberation War’ are widely used. Mention of these words is often heard in any context. Sadly, many are seen doing the exact opposite for the sake of the spirit of the liberation war.” The same applies to the leaders and workers of the state-blessed Nagorik Parishad.

Golam Mohammad Quader further wrote in his article, “The reasons why the people of Bangladesh were disgusted with the then Pakistani ruling class and struggled to get rid of it can be called the spirits of liberation war. There comes first to protect own distinctness, that means to preserve own distinct identity with own language and other cultural features.” In fact, the spirit of the Liberation War means the spirit of ‘preserving a separate identity with its own language and other cultural features’ of the nation, similarly, to show respect and recognition to other nations for their ‘separate identities with language and other cultural features’ and to provide moral support for their protection. Needless to say, the Nagorik Parishad does not seem to have the slightest respect for the ‘separate identity with language and other cultural features’ of Jumma people.

The foundation of the spirit of the Liberation War is linked with the establishment of a democratic, non-communal and progressive society and governance system with equal rights and dignity by fighting against the ethnic oppression, discrimination, aggression and communalism of the Pakistani ruling class. The leaders of the Nagorik Parishad claim to be the bearers of the spirit of the liberation war on the one hand, and on the other hand they have conspired against the Jumma nation with ethnic oppression, aggression and destruction of their separate identity and existence. Can it be called the spirits of the liberation war? It can be said without any doubt that in order to gain the patronage of the government as well as the state machineries, these communal and vested groups have resorted to deception in order to exploit the emotions and spirits of the liberation war.

If they had followed the spirit of the war of liberation, they would not have been involved in any activities contrary to the CHT Accord and interests of other nations, such as, Jumma people. Soon after the inception of the organisation, the Nagorik Parishad would not have blocked the meeting of the CHT Land Commission held in Rangamati on 23 December 2019 including the convoy of Chairman of the Commission retired Justice Anwar-ul Haq, and Members of the Commission Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, Raja Devasish Roy et al. Similarly, they would not have blockaded Chairman and Members of the Land Commission in Bandarban for about half an hour on 3 February 2020. During these blockades, they would not have utter slogans, provocative or threatening statements against the Land Commission chairman-members, Land Commission Act and Regulation.

Because a person with the spirit of the Liberation War can never oppose the just movement and struggle of any other rights-loving nation, can never oppose the historic CHT Accord- the Charter of Rights which was acquired in exchange for many sacrifices and blood, or can never obstruct the work of the Land Commission in resolving land disputes. In fact, the main task of this ultra nationalist, ultra communal and fundamentalist organization called Narorik Parishad is to obstruct the implementation process of the CHT Accord, to occupy the lands of the Jumma people by carrying out communal and arson attacks on the Jumma people, to exterminate the Jumma people ethnically, and above all, to implement the conspiracy of Pakistani ruling class to turn the non-Muslim inhabited CHT into a Muslim inhabited region.

Therefore, none of the members of this clique of fake believing in the spirit of liberation war is a freedom fighter. If they believed in the spirit of the liberation war, they would not have spread communal hatred. They did not depend on the shelter of anyone else. They could always fight for justice and truth. They could speak in favor of implementation of the CHT Accord. They continue to be vocal against grabbing of lands belonging to Jumma people by the settlers, rape and abduction of Jumma women. So, beware of them!

Demand for banning PCJSS and UPDF including removal of Santu Larma

This group of settlers rose up against Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma alias Santu Larma with the help of the state at various times. Their main job was to spread propaganda and slander against him whether he goes to abroad or stays in home. There is no end to the various conspiracies against him. Recently they demanded to ban the signatory political party of indigenous Jumma people, Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) and to remove Santu Larma from post of the chairman of the CHT Regional Council.

It can be said that the settlers are now the agents hired by the ruling class in the hills. These settlers need to know that Mr. Larma did not occupy the position of Chairman of the CHT Regional Council by flying over there. He became the Chairman of the CHT Regional Council through a formality as per the CHT Accord by in exchange for a lot of sacrifice in waging more than two-decades-long struggle. The Bengalis of that time also greeted him with garlands of flowers while he was taking charge of the Regional Council.

Before questioning his voter ID card and birth registration, one should know that Mr. Larma is a true freedom fighter and a true follower of the spirit of the liberation war. He not only speaks for the rights of the Jumma people, he is always vocal for the rights of the down-trodden people of this country and the oppressed people of the world including the low-income indigenous-minority-Bengali people.

As part of the conspiracy, an anti-state case was filed by the settlers against him with Dighinala police station for hoisting the Bangladesh flag. It should be noted that ee did not wage a struggle for rights to self-determination to prove about his patriotism to the settlers. In this context, the question of the press conference reminds me on 2nd December last year. At that time, a clique of journalists asked the same question to the respected leader. They also wanted to foil the press conference but could not because the clique could not have such capacity. It is to ne noted that whether he has an ID card or not, whether he is a citizen of the country or a foreigner, those things are recorded in the official documents, they can check and see there.

A child in the hills now believes that the government will not implement the CHT Accord. The government is wasting time by repeated promising only. That is why the Jumma people of the hills now want to walk on the path of fighting anew, avoiding division and hesitation, believing in the right path and leadership. This is as much a headache for the state.

The government and the state do not want that the Jumma people of the hills continue their fight for the rights, unity and solidarity should be strong among them. That is why they are now using this clique strategically. They do not want the Jumma people to speak up for their land rights, to speak out against the rape of Jumma women by settlers, militarization and Islamization in the CHT, to be vocal for justice.

That’s why the government and state machineries have come up with a huge blueprint package. One of the projects of that package is the Parbatya Chattagram Nagorik Parishad. They are determined to divide among the peoples, to spread hatred among the communities. So, the permanent residents of the CHT irrespective of Jumma-Bengali people need to be aware of this conspiracy. We all need to make sure that no one can crack the harmony that has existed between us for a long time. Side by side, we also need a strong voice against state conspiracies.

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