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1 December, 2020 10:07:53 PM / LAST MODIFIED: 2 December, 2020 08:55:14 AM
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23yrs of CHT Peace Accord: Hills still bath in blood of Bangalis

DEEPAK ACHARJEE, back from Bandarban
23yrs of CHT Peace Accord: Hills still bath in blood of Bangalis

Although twenty-three years have elapsed since the signing of the Chattogram Hill Tracts (CHT) Peace Accord, political killings especially of the Bangalis are on the rise in last six years in three hilly districts —Bandarban, Rangamati and Khagrachari.

At the same time, illegal toll collections by extortionists in the three districts under CHT are increasing especially in Rangamati and Khagrachari.
Local people alleged that in the name of activities of the UPDF, UPDF (Democratic), Parbatya Chattogram Jana Sanghati Samiti-PCJSS (Santu), and PCJSS (Reformist), some miscreants are involved in the killings and collecting tolls from the locals.

According to the statistics of law enforcement agencies, a total 120 out of 256 people killed in the hilly districts in last six years were Bengalis.
In October this year, 10 Bangalis have been killed by miscreant while 14 were killed in the same month last year. In 2018, 13 Bangalis were killed by local miscreants but 12 Bangalis were killed in 2017. The number of Bengalis killed in 2016 was 24 and in 2015 the figure marked 34, according to the statistics.

Zerin Akter, Police Super of Bandarban told The Independent that local miscreant groups are very much active in committing various crimes including killings in the area for establishing their supremacy. 

“We have arrested some miscreants on charges of killings and collecting tolls illegally from locals. However, locals do not file any complaint with the police in this regard,” she said.

About full implementation of CHT Peace Accord which was signed on December 2, 1997, she said, it was something to be considered by the government only and they are merely maintaining law and order in the area.

Deputy Commissioner of Bandarban Mohammed Daudul Islam told this correspondent, though the locals of the hills are peace-loving but activists of local groups are involved in various criminal activities including killing.

“We are recovering arms and ammunitions from them. We are also punishing these activists,” he said.

When asked, Chattogram Hill Tracts Affairs Minister Bir Bahadur Ushwe Sing said he heard that a section of locals is committing crimes like killing.

“We have already asked the local administration, especially law enforcement agencies to arrest the killers and extortionists at any cost,” he added.

AKM Zahangir, President of Bandarban Awami League, told this correspondent that the members of the local political groups are trying to establish their supremacy in the hills by killing the Bangali people as the activities of ruling Awami League is very strong.

“The matter is not about implementation of CHT Peace Accord in the hill but showing power and supremacy in the area by the local political groups,” he said.  

Sources said some miscreants, under the banner of the UPDF, are dominating Khagrachari district while members of the three other local groups—the UPDF, JSS, and JSS (reformist) are active in Bandarban. Besides, members of the JSS have established dominance in Rangamati.
Mangal Chakma, a PCJSS spokesperson, denied their involvement in the killings and collection of tolls from the locals.
He claimed that they are trying to establish peace in the hills but vested quarters are out there to commit crimes,” he said.

“Local people are cooperating with us. We’re not collecting massive amounts from them,” he added.
Sources said at least 256 activists of the three rival groups had been killed and injured over the past six years during clashes over establishing supremacy in the area and illegal collections of tolls in their respective areas.

Law enforcement agencies have failed to stop killings in the hilly districts after failing to recover illegal arms from the local criminal groups. It has been alleged that some members of the four local political parties are smuggling in various arms and ammunitions from neighboring countries like India. As they were trying to establish supremacy in their respective areas, different groups in the local political parties are fighting against each other leading to unending and relentless bloodshed. 

A number of sophisticated weapons, such as MG, AK-22 Automatic Rifles, G-3 Rifles, MK-11 Rifles, AK-47, AK-56, and M-16 Rifles have also been recovered by law enforcers from the possessions of the local political parties.

CHT, sprawling over 5,093 square miles, covers Rangamati, Khagrachhari and Bandarban districts. The region is flanked by two international borders—on the southeast by Myanmar and on the north by India. The region is heavily populated by Chakmas, Marmas, Garos, Mizos, Tripuras and other tribes.

At present, people of the CHT constitute approximately 0.5 per cent of the country’s total population. The population density is about 113 persons per square kilometre as against 1,147 persons per square kilometre of the country. There are 13 ethnic minorities in the CHT region with Chakmas constituting 24.72 per cent of their total population.

HM

 

 

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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