Parbatya Chattogram Jana Samhati Samiti president Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma on Monday said Chittagong Hill Tracts affairs minister Bir Bahadur Ushwe Sing himself stands against implementation of the landmark Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord.
Jyotirindra, popularly known as Santu Larma, made the accusation responding to Bir Bahadur’s claim that Santu Larma does not want implementation of the deal.
‘He is a beneficiary of the treaty. He stands the way of implementing the treaty as if it was fully implemented he would loss benefits,’ said Santu Larma.
He also said none of the main five clauses of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord was implemented in the past 22 years since the landmark treaty was signed on December 2, 1997.
Santu Larma came up with the remarks at a discussion organised by Jatiya Nagarik Udyog at WVA auditorium in Dhanmoni marking the 23rd anniversary of CHT treaty signed between the government and the PCJSS.
Santu Larma, said non implementation of the clauses contributes to absence of peace in the region.
Santu Larma said his party started negotiating with the government since October 25, 1985 with five-point demands — protection of distinctive cultures of the ethnic minorities living in the area, ensuring their rights to land, their rights to be self-governed, their control over law and order in the area, and taking consent for initiating any development activities in the area.
‘We had six meetings with the Ershad-led government, 13 with the BNP-led government and seven with the Awami-league led government before officially signing the agreement on December 2, 1997,’ Shantu said.
Of the 72 clauses of the treaty, he said, in international forums the government was claiming for the past 10 years that it implemented 48 clauses when PCJSS said only 24 less significant clauses were fully implemented and 15 others were partially implemented.
‘But, the main five-point demands and 29 other important clauses remained unimplemented and the government is grossly violating those,’ he added.
Santu said his party was cheated by the government as Sheikh Hasina had verbally promised to gradually relocate the Bengalis living in the area.
‘She did not keep the promise. We also face criticism from our communities for not being able to incorporate the provision in the treaty,’ he said.
He said the problem in the CHT began during the religion-based partition in 1947 and it deteriorated during the Pakistan rule following construction of the Kaptai hydro-electricity project.
‘The post-independence government became repressive against us with false charges even though the fact that we could not participate in the war of independence for non-cooperation of the then cabinet secretary of Mujibnagar government HT Imam and Awami League leaders of Chattogram,’ Santu said.
‘Ziaur Rahman-government, too, was repressive against us and made the problem more complicated by rehabilitating over five-lakh Bengalis in the region,’ Santu said.
Even the current government that signed the treaty was not faithful and cordial to implement the treaty in the past 10 years, he said.
‘The CHT region is not governed by any ministry rather it is governed by the army and different agencies,’ Santu said.
He said their back now got stuck against the wall.
He criticised Bangladesh Nationalist Party and other progressive parties for not addressing the problems of the CHT people in their programmes.
Former chairman of Human Rights Commission Mizanur Rahman said CHT Accord would remain meaningless unless the essences of the treaty such as rights on land had been implemented.
‘It’s immaterial and wastage of time to discuss how many clauses had been implemented unless the ethnic communities had not rights on their land,’ he said.
‘The agencies are active to divide unity of the ethnic communities so that they cannot press for executing main principles of the treaty,’ he said.
Dhaka University history professor Mesbah Kamal said both military and civil bureaucrats had been appearing as hurdles for executing the clauses of the treaty as they failed to realise that a political problem should be solved politically.
Oikya NAP president Pankaj Bhattacharya said all the clauses of the treaty must be executed without further delay.
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