Academicians, journalists and rights activists on Sunday said the Chittagong Hill Tracts Treaty should be implemented fully upholding the ethnicity and values of the ethnic minorities to bring absolute peace in the region.
State minister for information Md Murad Hasan, however, said those living in the hill tracts were none of indigenous or ethnic minority or tribes, rather they were Bengalis and the words were used different times for their advancement.
‘They belong to no other nation, they all are Bengalis,’ he said while speaking as the chief guest in a roundtable on ‘CHT Peace Accord: expectation, achievement and things to do’ at National Press Club in Dhaka.
Institute of Conflict, Law and Development Studies and Bhorer Kagoj jointly organised the roundtable to mark the 22nd anniversary of signing the landmark treaty.
Mentioning land dispute as the main problem in implementing the accord, local elected representatives who are leaders of Awami League in the hill districts blamed regional political parties for not implementation of the accord for personal interests of their leaders.
The state minister as well as the hill-based Awami League leaders identified grabbing lands, establishing supremacy by the regional political groups, toll collection, brandishing arms and division of opinions among those political groups as the main problem in the hill tracts now.
Dhaka University history professor Syed Anwar Hossain, addressing as the key speaker, stressed the need of solving land problems of the ethnic minorities first and then to take expert opinions to solve the conflicting situation among regional political parties to end present conflict in the region.
The government will have to hold election to the CHT Regional Council, give the council financial independence for its functioning and development of the region, he said.
He stressed the need of keeping military there for safety and security but said, ‘there should be no military rule there’.
Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists’ former president Manjurul Ahsan Bulbul said though there were infrastructural development in the area, its result would not be beneficial for the people if ‘the crisis of trust’ among the regional political groups could not be eradicated.
‘The government should advance upholding the ethnic minorities’ languages, culture and ethnicity to end the problems. The hill tracts is for the hill people. Their issues should be given priority,’ senior journalist Abu Sayeed Khan said.
Presided over by ICLDS vice-chairman Abdul Mannan and moderated by Bhorer Kagoj editor Shyamal Dutta, the discussion was also addressed by CHT affairs secretary Md Mesbahul Islam, additional secretary Sudipta Chakma, ICLDS executive director Abdur Rashid, Lakshmichhari upazila chairman Babul Chowdhury, Rangamati upazila chairman Shahiduzzaman Mohsin Roman and Khagrachhari district
AL organising secretary Didarul Alam, among others.
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