Peace still remains elusive in the Hill Districts03 December 2021
Editorial Desk :
It has been 24 years since the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Peace Accord was signed; yet the situation in the region is still very much fragile. The question is when the deal was supposed to put an end to the conflicts and violence in the three hill districts, why are they still taking place? What is the reason behind this situation, and who is responsible for it? It is said that the process of properly implementing some of the key promises are yet to be materialised, thereby making the Parbatya Chattogram Jana Sanghati Samity (PCJSS) unhappy. PCJSS is a key stakeholder in treaty signing and it keeps insisting that the government should live up to its promises like land right settlements in CHT, enforcement of CHT Regulation 1900, preparation of voter lists with permanent residents and election of Hill District Councils and the Regional Council.
However, the government often claims that the PCJSS is responsible for the violence. The reality is that though the deal was aimed at resolving the crisis in the hills, it is yet to be fully implemented. On December 2, 1997, PCJSS inked the peace deal with the then-Awami League government ending over two decades of tribal insurgency and bloodletting in the hill
districts. Needless to say, anarchy has been created in the area by allowing conflicts, fightings, killings, abductions and extortions through sheltering and indulging anti-accord elements. Besides, arbitrary arrests, search operations, extrajudicial killings, and trapping of innocent villagers in false cases are alleged.
The Peace Accord was negotiated against the backdrop of over two decades of armed conflict that killed thousands of people and displaced many more. If the Accord was properly implemented, if the regional council and the three hill district councils were in control of general administration, if the occupied lands were returned to their original owners, if the local residents were given the jobs available in the CHT - it can be said for certain that the anger, dissatisfaction and despair among the hill people would have never appeared.