Friday, July 20, 2018 | ePaper

Unfortunately government has no political leadership to restore peace in Chattogram Hill Tracts

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THREE more activists of Parbatya Chattogram Janasanghati Samity (MN Larma) and United People's Democratic Front (Democratic) were shot dead at their homes in Rangamati and Khagrachhari districts between Friday and Sunday. Conflicts between different groups in Chattogram Hill Tracts have led to the death of at least 22 people in the last five months. More than 600 people have been killed since signing of the CHT Peace Accord in 1997.
Newspapers reports said four active groups in the CHT which were once part of a single organisation called Jana Sanghati Samity or JSS are now directly involved in the armed clashes. These organizations are Parbatya Chattogram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS), Jana Samhati Samiti (Reformist-MN Larma), United People's Democratic Front (UPDF) and UPDF (Ganatantrik). Of the dead, two high ranking leaders, including Advocate Shaktiman Chakma of PCJSS-MN Larma group and Topan Jyoti Chakma convenor of UPDF (Ganatantrik) group, were killed last month.
According to information available, these hilly organizations, though claiming themselves as political parties, indulge in extortion. These rival groups have apparently turned the hill region into a valley of death. Security officials said these groups usually lock in armed clashes over the big amounts of extortion done in the region, which is the main reason behind all the attacks, kidnappings and killings. After each incident, they blame each other. On the other hand, the law enforcement agencies are visibly unable to nab the key players behind such criminal activities. Common people have become hostage of these groups despite hoping that the CHT peace accord -- signed in 1997 between the then Awami League government and the Shanti Bahini led by PCJSS chief Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma -- would end bloodshed in this region. However, the breakaway group UPDF still denounces the treaty and seeks full autonomy in the region.
So far we know, the ethnic groups only fight between themselves to establish supremacy in the area so they can extort money easily. It's a matter of great surprise that no trial has taken place till date over the murders. It's a big question why the families of the victims did not get justice.
Successive governments have wrongly assessed the crisis and considered military solution as the only remedy for it. The government seems less concerned to seriously consider a political accommodation between different tribal groups. The truth is that the government lacks political leadership to solve any political problem. Those who are outside the government have been ignored for any help they could provide. So, the future of CHT remains a grave concern for the nation.

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