Govt must mend national minority issues to stop CHT conflicts

Published: 00:00, Jul 09,2020


THE death of at least six leaders and activists of the MN Larma faction of the Parbatya Chattogram Jana Samhati Samiti in a gun attack on Monday morning in Bandarban is shocking. The MN Larma faction has blamed the attack on the Santu Larma faction of the organisation, which has, however, brushed aside the allegation. And the police say that it was an exchange of fire between two PCJSS factions over supremacy in the area centring on ‘toll collection.’ All of what are said are nothing but allegations, pending investigation. Although no case was filed and none was arrested in this connection until Tuesday evening, the Bandarban police say that they were investigating the incident and were trying to establish the attackers and their motives. The government should, therefore, properly investigate the incident early and bring to justice all perpetrators so that there remains no scope for any delay to create any culture of impunity because this is one of many such incidents, out of reported rivalry between political organisations of the hill districts, to have taken place, with no end in sight.

Three United People’s Democratic Front activists were killed at Baghaichari in Rangamati on May 28; the UPDF chief, three of his associates and their driver were killed at Bethchari on the Khagrachari-Rangamati Road on May 4; a PCJSS faction vice-president was killed on May 3; and seven, including four UPDF-backed organisation leaders, were killed at two places in Khagrachari on August 18, 2018. But what remains worrying is that the relationship among the regional political organisations and between them and government forces often becomes violent. Such a violent relationship among the organisations and with the government forces is good neither for the people living in the hill districts nor for the government. A situation like this, which creates a fearful situation and a sense of insecurity among national minorities of the Chattogram Hill Tracts, should not continue. While all the regional political organisations should realise this and step up their efforts for better days, the government should also play a role to make this happen. It is believed all the conflicts, apparently internecine, among the political groups of national minorities in the Chattogram Hill Tracts are in a way results of the Chattogram Hill Tracts Treaty 1997, a political agreement and peace accord signed between the government and the Parbatya Chattogram Jana Samhati Samiti, left unimplemented for more than two decades. Successive governments, thus, have an indirect accountability for the situation at hand. The promises that the government made to them that time largely left unfulfilled till date have given rise to factionalism, which comes to prove dangerous, keeping the hill region continuously unstable and killing people one after another.

A full implementation of the Chattogram Hill Tracts Treaty but for a controversial provision related to the electoral roll as contained in the treaty could resolve many issues that would not lead the situation to such a pass. The government must, therefore, implement the treaty but for the provision in question to come out of this violence that has plagued the region for long.

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