Our backs are against the wall: Santu Larma | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 03, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:46 AM, December 03, 2019

Our backs are against the wall: Santu Larma

Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, commonly known as Santu Larma, yesterday alleged the government “is not sincere” about fully implementing the Chattogram Hill Tracts (CHT) Peace Accord, which was signed in 1997 to bring peace in the hills.

Twenty-two years have already passed, but only a few clauses [around 24 out of 72] of the accord have been implemented so far, while the core subject -- ownership of land -- still remains unresolved, said the CHT leader.

“The jummo people’s backs are against the wall. They are now getting ready to overcome this impasse,” said Santu Larma.

He made the remarks while speaking at a discussion, held at Women’s Voluntary Association auditorium in the capital’s Dhanmondi. Jatiya Nagorik Uddyog, a civic platform, organised the event to mark the 22nd anniversary of the Peace Accord.

Urging the government to implement all clauses of the treaty immediately, Santu Larma, president of Parbatya Chattogram Jana Samhati Samiti, said they had a lot of hope from the accord, which they do not want to see go in vain.

He also demanded relocation of the Bengali settlers from the CHT areas as the government had committed to do so beyond the treaty.

Speaking at the event, Dhaka University (DU) Professor Mesbah Kamal said the government is supposed to prepare an action plan for implementation of the treaty, but they are “repressing” the hill people instead.

Echoing Mesbah, Prothom Alo Joint Editor Sohrab Hasan said the government has to accept its failure in not being able to implement the accord properly. He also observed that an unstable situation may occur once again in the  CHT if the hill people’s demands over the treaty are not fulfilled  immediately.

DU Professor and former National Human Rights Commission Chairman Mizanur Rahman said the government claims that about 48 clauses of the accord have already been implemented, but the number is 25 as per CHT leaders. This debate has to be resolved, he added.

Bangladesh Adivasi Forum General Secretary Sanjeeb Drong said CHT people are supposed to celebrate the anniversary of the peace accord with festivity, but it has turned into a matter of frustration instead.

“People of the hills are passing their days in misery. Proper implementation of the accord is a must to bring peace and stability in the hills,” he added.

Oikya NAP President Pankaj Bhattacharya, writer and columnist Syed Abul Maksud, DU Professor Robaet Ferdous, Bangladesh Nari Progati Sangha Executive Director Rokeya Kabir and DU Associate Professor Zobaida Nasreen also spoke at the programme, among others.

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