Take CHT issue seriously and get a permanent solution
THE Chattogram Hill Tracts Accord, signed 22 years ago, is yet to be fully implemented due to lack of political commitment by successive governments, ethnic and rights groups resent. The present government, however, claims that most provisions of the accord have been implemented in phases during their three tenures. But rights groups working for ethnic communities believe that only some of the articles were either fully or partially implemented. The AL-led government had signed the peace pact on December 2, 1997, for ending armed conflicts between ethnic communities and security forces, ensuring protection of their land rights, and revival of their cultural uniqueness.
Community leaders in the region claim that disputes on possession of land by settlers is still unresolved as the land commission formed by the government to formulate solutions could not become functional due to bureaucratic tangles. Provisions for withdrawing security and civil defence forces, transferring hill matters to be dealt by regional and hill district councils, rehabilitation of returnee ethnic families, encouraging tourism, fixing job quota for ethnic people and general clemency to ethnic individuals charged with secessionist offences before signing the accord were partially implemented. Meanwhile several local ethnic groups and the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party opposed the accord.
The reality is that it would always be difficult to implement the accord as discord exists between the indigenous people and the Bangali settlers. The proportion of the latter has gone up from 2 percent of the population in the CHT areas to over 65 percent. In land starved Bangladesh it will be difficult to remove the Bangali population from the CHT areas. For that reason, it needs a new way of thinking to dissolve the tensions in the area and get a permanent solution to the crisis.