• Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019
  • Last Update : 01:22 am

Basanti Chakma's speech sparks outrage in CHT

  • Published at 03:52 pm March 11th, 2019
File photo of MP Basanti Chakma Collected

Locals and the Awami League have been protesting against the member of parliament's speech

Member of Parliament Basanti Chakma's speech, at a Jatiya Sangsad session, has received a negative reaction from different quarters in the three Chittagong Hill Tracts districts.

Locals and the Awami League activists protested against Basanti's speech—in the Matiranga and Ramgar upazilas of Khagrachhari, on Monday—and demanded she be removed from her  MP position plus apologize for her statements. 

Khagrachhari Sadar Union Parishad Chairman Hiron Joy Tripura, and Parbatya Bangali Chhatra Parishad central committee Chairman Abdul Mazid, gave speeches during the protest in Matiranga upazila.

Meanwhile, upazila Awami League President Shamsul Haque said Basanti's comments about the Bangladesh Army and the people of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, are tantamount to treason. 

"Basanti's speech was based on her personal opinions, and the Awami League does not support her views," he said. "She should apologize for her speech and step down from the parliament for breaking her oath of office."

Parbatya Bangali Chhatra Parishad central committee Chairman Abdul Mazid said: "Basanti's speech bears similarities with the views of the local Chittagong Hill Tracts organizations. She is using her position to implement the agenda of these treasonous forces. 

"These insidious forces are trying to destroy the peaceful coexistence of the indigenous and Bangali population in the hill tracts," he said. "I expect the prime minister to intervene, and charge Basanti with treason."

Basanti's effigy was burned in Muktijoddha Square during the protest in Matiranga.

In Ramgarh upazila, a press briefing was held at Ramgarh press club under the banner of "concerned citizens," who warned that they would engage in a fierce political movement if Basanti is not removed from her office within 72 hours.

Convener of Parbatya Bangali Chhatra Parishad of Ramgarh, Md Saiful, read out a written statement with the demands. 

When contacted, Basanti told the Dhaka Tribune over the phone: "If you hear closely, you will realize that I was talking about the time before the peace treaty was formed. There are many painful memories behind the success story of every person. How can we forget them?"

She added: "I hope the people will not misunderstand me. I do not differentiate between the adivasis [indigenous people] and the Bangalis. The locals are like a family to me; I want to work with all of them."

On February 26, Basanti Chakma gave a speech in a Jatiya Sangsad session about the 1986 riots between the adivasis and the Bangalis, and the role of the Bangladesh Army. 

Her speech sparked outrage among the population in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, prompting them to hold protests demanding Basanti's suspension from the MP position and an apology for her speech.