Courtesy: New Age, Dhaka, 6 July, 2010., www.newagebd.org
Hill parties criticise govt’s new
plan to curb ethnic violence
The government’s move to intensify vigilance in the three hill tracts districts to curb ethnic violence for ensuring development has drawn sharp criticism from the regional political parties.
The regional parties, in their instant reaction, said that the plan contained elements that go against the spirit of the CHT accord.
The plans were placed at a review meeting on the situation in the hill tracts districts chaired by prime minister Sheikh Hasina on May 5.
The plans include rehabilitation of families affected by ethnic violence under ‘ashrayan prakalpa, readjustment of the boundaries of the three districts, transferring Baghaichhari upazila to Khagrachari from Rangamati, curbing poppy cultivation, rehabilitation of poppy growers and regulating the destabilising activities of the United People’s Democratic Front.
The government is likely to entrust the implementation to a strategic management forum to be headed by a minister or adviser, intensify coordinated vigilance and strengthen paramilitary forces to guard the borders.
The strategic management forum will include representatives from the ministries of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs, home, armed forces division, intelligence agencies, forest division, and the concerned circle chiefs.
The plan would require brining the regional political parties under registration and legal compliance, holding of elections to hill district councils and CHT regional council.
The Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti-led by Jyotindra Bodhipriya Larma, which signed the 1997 CHT deal, said that the plan contains many positive things, but it also contains elements that go against the spirit of the accord.
PCJSS assistant publicity secretary Sajib Chakma said that the plan is silent about implementation of the CHT accord, and in stead many of its provisions go against the spirit of the accord.
He said that the PCJSS would give its formal reaction after a thorough examination of the plan.
A breakaway faction of the PCJSS, led by Sudhasindhu Khisha, in a statement asked the prime minister to review the plan and involve all the three CHT lawmakers with the planning process.
It described the plan as ‘a non-political hard-line policy’ to be implemented by officers, not having a positive attitude towards the hill people.
It said that a policy like this cannot be called political.
It also said that the people in CHT do not expect a policy like this at a time, when they all favour implementation of the CHT accord of 1997.
It said that the government took the plan to pressurise the regional political parties to go closer to the national political parties and also to create scope for the national political parties to increase their activities in the hill districts.
It said that other elements in the plan would prompt sharp reaction and new unrest among the hill people for which the popular alliance government, led by Sheikh Hasina, alone would be blamed.
The United People’s Democratic Front, which was formed by a PCJSS faction opposed to the 1997 accord, said the plan would pave the way for greater military supervision in the hill districts.
It said that the plan, aiming at dealing with UPDF with heavy hands to make its grassroots activists inactive, exposed the government’s fascist character.
The UPDF general secretary, Rabishankar Chakma, in a statement said the government plan seeks to transfer the responsibility of its failure to maintain stability on the shoulders of UPDF.
It described the plan as an attempt to provide cover to ‘the real culprits’ responsible for creating instability in the hills.
Rabishankar said that the consequences of the move to restrict or control the activities of UPDF cannot be good as the party secured a significant number of votes in last two general elections.
He said that the people in the hill districts would not accept repressive measures against the leaders and workers of UPDF.