Rights and political situation in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) is worsening and conscious citizens of the country should pay due attention to resolve the hill people's problems, speakers said at a discussion yesterday.
They said solutions to the troubles affecting hill people is also linked to overall progress of the country.
Jatiya Mukti Council arranged the discussion on "Present Political Situation in Chittagong Hill Tracts" at Jatiya Press Club.
Monti Chakma, general secretary of Hill Women Federation, said hill people faced obstacles from government agencies responsible for maintaining law and order whenever they tried to demonstrate on rights issues.
A “neo masked group” has emerged in the region and it was involved in the recent killings of hill people, she alleged, adding, “proper investigation is needed to find out about their patrons”.
Socialist Party of Bangladesh General Secretary Comrade Khalequzzaman said rights violation incidents in the hill districts are not isolated. The ruling class had a role in creating divisions among people there, he said.
The country could have been more enriched through adding values of different ethnic communities to the mainstream cultural practices, he added.
Shunayan Chakma, general secretary of Greater Chattogram Hill Tracts Hill Students Council, said situation in the hills started to deteriorate in November 2017 -- following the emergence of a local group.
The group was formed by some ousted members of United People's Democratic Front, a regional political party, he said, adding that the recent killings and abductions started after that and the situation gradually worsened.
“The crisis in CHT is political which should be resolved for the sake of national interest,” he added.
Nasiruddin Elan, director of rights group Odhikar, said rights violation situation in the hills was similar to that of elsewhere in the country.
Due to challenges in documentation, the real picture of rights violation in CHT was unclear, he said.
In the country, 3,543 people were victims of extra-judicial killings from 2001 to March, 2019 while 519 people became victims of enforced disappearance since 2009 to March this year, he said, citing Odhikar data.
Faizul Hakim, secretary of Jatiya Mukti Council, and Md Main Uddin, president of Parbatta Odhikar Forum, among others, spoke.