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21 years into signing: Conflicts prolong CHT Peace Accord execution

  • Published at 12:14 am December 2nd, 2018
CHT Peace Accord 1997
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina observes, while then the chief whip Abul Hasanat Abdullah and Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) President Santu Larma sign the Peace Accord of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, on December 2, 1997 Collected

Different programs will be arranged in the three hilly districts Khagrachari, Rangamati and Bandarban, on Sunday marking the anniversary of the Peace Accord

Though 21 years have elapsed since its signing, the Chittagong Hill Tracts(CHT) Peace Accord is yet to be fully implemented, for reasons such as legal barriers, non-cooperation from and conflicts among some regional groups.

The agreement was signed to establish peace in the region, but it is still to be reached due to conflicts among the regional groups which frequently claim lives in the area.

Sources at the local intelligence and law enforcement agencies said around 53 people belonging to different ethnic minority groups were killed, 46 others injured and 78 were abducted by Pahari terrorist groups in the three hilly districts in the last 11 months till November 30.

Besides, 14 Bengalis were killed, 25 injured and 12 abducted by the terrorists during the period.

The total figure from January 1, 2014 to November 30 of 2018 stood at 166, 259 and 312 respectively for the Pahari people while 98, 572 and 148 respectively for Bengali settlers.

The Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord was signed between the government and the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) on December 2, 1997 during the first tenure of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, ending bloody conflicts in three hill districts.

The then Chief Whip of the Parliament Abul Hasnat Abdullah signed the agreement on behalf of the government while Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma (popularly known as Santu Larma) signed on behalf of PCJSS.

A group of ethnic minority people, led by Prasit Bikash Khisa, formed the United People's Democratic Front (UPDF) in 1998 opposing the peace accord.

The PCJSS also saw a split as some left the organization in 2007 and formed PCJSS (Reformists), led by Sudha Sindho Khisa, while an armed group of the UPDF also separate ways forming the UPDF (Democratic), led by Tapan Jyoti Chakma(alias Borma and Jalwa) on November 15, 2017.

The Pahari groups have allegedly been engaged in various crimes, including extortion, kidnapping and killing, in the hilly regions. Sometimes they lock in clashes among themselves which claim lives of both the Pahari and Bengali people, hampering development activities in the region.

Contacted, Chairman of Taskforce on Tribal Refugee Affairs Kujendra Lal Tripura told UNB that two-thirds of the CHT Peace Treaty has already been implemented. 

"It'll take some more time to fully execute the treaty as it is not possible to implement all the clauses overnight," he said.

Replying to a query, he said: “Regional groups like UPDF, UPDF (Democratic) and PCJSS (Reformists) are engaged in attacking each other to establish supremacy in their respective areas and they are also hampering the implementation of the peace accord.”

Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Khagrachari M Shahidul Islam said: “48 out of the total 72 clauses of the CHT Peace Treaty have already been implemented while 15 others partially implemented and the remaining nine clauses are under implementation process.”

He said several land-related cases are pending with the court, which too, is hampering the implementation process. "It'll take some more time as there are some difficult issues involving land as well as legal matters to be settled."

Meanwhile, different programs will be arranged in the three hilly districts Khagrachari, Rangamati and Bandarban, on Sunday marking the anniversary of the Peace Accord.