Govt disregarding CHT accord: Santu Larma | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 15, 2014 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:53 AM, March 08, 2015

Govt disregarding CHT accord: Santu Larma

Govt disregarding CHT accord: Santu Larma

The Awami League-led government has continued making unilateral decisions by passing and amending laws related to the Chittagong Hill Tracts in disregard of the 1997 peace accord, indigenous leader Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma alleged yesterday.
“No doubt, the government's undemocratic, anti-public and anti-peace accord mindset is reflected in its unilateral decision to amend the CHT district council acts, formulate CHT DB [development board] act and the initiative to set up Rangamati Science and Technology University and Medical College going against public opinions,” he said.  
Popularly known as Santu Larma, the leader of the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti, with which the then AL government signed the accord, made the allegations in a statement during a press briefing at a hotel in the capital.
The briefing came 10 days after some members of the International CHT Commission were attacked by Bangalee settlers in Rangamati. The visit followed protests by adivasis over security forces and settlers walking hand in hand in grabbing their land.
The latest row over land grabbing has broken out after Border Guard Bangladesh displaced about 21 adivasi families at Khagrachhari's Dighinala upazila for building the headquarters for its Battalion 51.
“We are at our wit's end to understand why the state should need so many cantonments and BGB camps in addition to police in the hill districts,” said Santu.
According to him, there are six army cantonments in the three districts. In the statement, he said the AL held power for over nine years in phases since signing of the accord, which is mostly immaterialised till date.
Replying to journalists' questions, Santu said even the Rangamati MP, Ushatan Talukder, was unaware of the passage of the development board act and amendments to the zila parishad laws.
The CHT regional council act mandates getting consent from the council and the three CHT zila parishads before passing any law. Ever since the zila parishad acts expired before the 1997 treaty, the parishads had been constituted without any election. “The zila parishads have become the rehabilitation centres of ruling party men engaged in unbridled corruption,” said Santu. The state's decision of increasing the number of the parishad members from five to 11 people has taken adivasis by surprise, he added.
The indigenous communities found the government's decision to set up a university and a medical college in Rangamati ill-intentioned.  The statement cited the example of Kaptai Sweden Political Institute, 90 percent of whose students are outsiders. Adivasis see the new initiatives as an effort to send in more settlers. Oikya NAP's President Pankaj Bhattacharya, columnist Syed Abul Moksud, and Adivasi Forum's General Secretary Sanjeeb Drong attended the conference among others.

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