ABID AZAD

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Santu Larma slams government for directives on CHT

The government is trying to tighten grip on the indigenous people of the Chittagong Hill Tracts through the recent directives of restricting communication by any local or foreign person or an organisation with the adivasis, PCJSS President Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma alias Santu Larma has said.

Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) and the Awami League government struck the accord in 1997 to end a decade-long armed struggle.

The government sent its 11-point decisions regarding the CHT to different administrative bodies and law enforcement agencies on January 22 for implementation. The decisions were made at a joint meeting on January 7 at the Home Ministry held to analyse the post-peace accord situation of the region.

At the meeting, CHT Affairs Ministry Secretary Naba Bikram Kishore Tripura claimed that Santu Larma refused to acknowledge that most of the 72 sections of the accord had already been executed.

On this, Santu, also the chief of CHT Regional Council, said: “Such a statement has been made only to serve political purpose. Among the 72 sections, only 25 have been implemented. However, the government is practising falsehood by claiming execution of 48 sections.”

PCJSS Information and Publicity Secretary Mangal Kumar Chakma termed the directives “expression of racism and communalism.”

He also criticised Naba Bikram’s statement that the indigenous leaders had been obstructing in holding the polls to three hill district councils for the last 22 years. “How an election can be held when there is no voter list
or regulation?

“The secretary made such statement to cover up failure of the government in implementing the peace accord.”

Mangal ruled out possessing huge cache of arms by the PCJSS as mentioned by the secretary at the meeting. “We do not understand why the Home Ministry included PCJSS along with the United People Democratic Front (UPDF), an anti-peace accord indigenous group, to claim that we have huge amount of arms.

“We surrendered our arms to the government when the accord was signed in 1997. Such observation has been made to create distraction and spoil our reputation among the indigenous people,” he alleged.

Mangal observed that asking the law enforcement agencies to work in collaboration with the 24 Infantry Division of Bangladesh Army was contrary to the accord and violation of human rights.

“When the government is supposed to withdraw army camps from the CHT area in line with the accord, it has taken a U-turn from establishing peace. The law enforcement agencies were supposed to be handed over to the district councils which is yet to be done,”
he added.

When contacted for comments over the remarks he had made at the meeting, Secretary Naba Bikram refused to make any comment immediately terming the matter “sensitive.”

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