Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) is a military controlled area, where all the news are filtered by the military and the Bangladeshi government.CHT, where blood has shed for decades and hopes were burnt to ashes by the brutes, constitutes of people who want their voice to be heard. We are here to ensure that the voice of these unheard victims in CHT echo around the world despite the Bangladeshi government trying to suppress them in the biased state run media.
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In spite of the more than decade long existence of the CHT Peace Accord, one very pivotal area of discord remains festering to this day. This has to do with land disputes. These sometimes take on a violent form. It was evidenced on Sunday by a string of clashes between Bengalees and Adivashis in Ramgarh and Manikchhari in the CHT. The trouble originated in the ploughing of a disputed land by some settlers who claimed to have been using the plot for a long time. Then it spread out.
Although the situation seems to have been brought under control and the local authorities do not regard it as being 'serious', clearly tension prevails. Further backlash cannot be ruled out.
What this spurt in violence indicates is the urgency to come to grips with land rights and settlement issues. An under-staffed and ill-equipped Land Commission with an undefined mandate, hardly attuned to the demographic peculiarities of the region, virtually remains a non-starter. The fundamental problems centered around lack of land documentation based on land survey as would reflect realities on the ground. The Adivashi leadership should be fully taken on board by the concerned ministry, regional council and the Land Commission for devising ways and means to overcome the legalistic deficits in the land ownership patterns. Their rights to land would have to be fully protected and unassailably documented.
The Adivashi communities and the Bengalee settlers should learn to live in peace and harmony in their greater collective interest. For our part, we should give no cause for grievance to the Adivashis as to their distinct identity and cultural ethos that are a value addition to our national heritage. Similarly, the detractors of peace accord should abide by a sense of collective ethos for mutual co-existence. The fact that the CHT people are overwhelmingly in favour of a full implementation of the peace accord as a necessary precondition to all round development of the region is good augury. And this will have to be cashed in on.