Saturday, January 10, 2009

Now, a TV that switches itself off when no one’s watching!

London, Jan 9 (ANI): Lazy couch potatoes’ wish has been granted: a ‘fairy’ in the form of Sony company has developed a TV that keeps an eye on viewers and turns itself off when no one is watching. The new range of BRAVIA VE5-series Eco TVs have a built in motion sensor that will automatically switch off the power if it detects no movement in the room for a period of time.

The revolutionary electronic equipment was launched at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, reports the Telegraph.

Sony''s chief operating officer Stan Glasgow said: "The TV will automatically switch itself off if you fall asleep or leave the room and forget to turn the set off."

The motion sensor will be available worldwide this summer on all Sony Bravia VE5 series LCD models with screes 40" in diameter or bigger. (ANI)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Oil sector officers call off strike

NEW DELHI, Jan 9 – The oil sector strike that disrupted fuel supplies across the country was today called off, after government threatened to crackdown on agitating officers with threats of arrests and dismissals, reports PTI. The strike was called off by executives of individual oil and gas companies one after the other, as the government talked tough and ruled out conceding any of their demands for higher wages while they held the country to ransom.

Earlier, the government today cracked down on the striking oil PSU executives, ordering arrests and calling the army to restore normal fuel supply that was thrown into disarray on the third day of the nationwide stir.

Government cracked the whip after Oil Minister Murli Deora briefed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the failure of talks with Oil Sector Officers Association (OSOA) last night, goading Bharat Petroleum, Oil India and Engineers India executives to return to work to avoid dismissal and arrests.

OSOA struck work on January 7 to press for higher wages, holding the country to ransom by stopping oil and gas output and disrupting fuel supplies that brought road traffic to a halt and delayed domestic and international flights.

About 12,000 petrol pumps of the largest fuel retailer, Indian Oil, and over 3,000 of BPCL was out of stock, leading to mile-long queues at HPCL outlets.

Mumbai ran out of compressed natural gas (CNG) that runs some two lakh buses, taxis and autos but Delhi had enough CNG and piped natural gas stocks to last 7 to 10 days.

However, with gas available from ONGC, as many as 138 CNG stations would be fully functional by tonight, Petroleum Secretary R S Pandey said.

Petrol, diesel supply situation will improve with BPCL executives calling off the strike and army taking despatch and loading operations of IOC at Delhi.

“Tough is an understatement,” Deora said, even as Pandey said that army has been called in and arrest orders are being issued against those who are not relenting.

Officers of ONGC and IOC continued to boycott work.

IOC Chairman Sarthak Behuria said list of officers has been sent to district authorities with instruction for arrest if officers do not join duty by tomorrow.

“All resources of government including army will be harnessed to deal with a very difficult situation created by oil officers, who are rather well paid,” Pandey said while summarising the events of the last three days including the failure of talks with OSOA late last night.

The Crisis Management Group met early this morning and decided on deploying army at supply installations so that petrol and diesel tankers are moved to filling stations.

Deora also briefed the Cabinet on the emerging crisis.

“Cabinet showed total solidarity with the ministry and oil companies. We have been given a mandate to use all resources available with the government to restore supplies,” said Deora.

Home Minister P Chidambaram, who has been asked by the Prime Minister to head a committee to resolve the grievances of the oil PSU officers, said that the Centre has advised state governments to take firm action.

Our Duliajan Correspondent adds: The tough stance of the Union Government ultimately compelled OSOA to call off the indefinite strike demanding a hike in pay scale today at the end.

The exploration, operation and production of the 3.3 MT annually producing PSU resumed after the officers returned to their normal duties which were being maintained at minimum operation level considering the interest of the company during the strike period. According to internal OIL sources, during the strike period around 200 officers assisted the Head of Fields, Sri P.C Khound, the General Managers and the work persons of the company attended their duties to maintained a near normal production of crude oil which is associated with natural gas to maintain a steady supply of gas mainly to the three power plants of the region- Namrup Thermal Power Station (NTPS), Lakwa Thermal Power Station (LTPS) both of ASEB and Assam Gas Based Power Plant of NEEPCO with combined generation capacity of around 500 MW which consequently resulted in constant power supply in the region during the strike period.

Besides two out of the four petrol pumps of the oil township went dry and in the morning till noon serpentine queues were seen in the filling station.

On the other hand the Digboi refinery of Assam Oil Division (AOD, IOCL is still running at optimum level till the filling of this report as the IOCL officers are yet to call off the indefinite strike.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Transporters strike hits North-East

Guwahati: The nation-wide transporters strike which entered fourth day on Thursday has adversely affected supply of essential commodities to North-East. Official sources said here that with the N-E dependent on essentials from other states mostly supplied by road, there was scarcity with the goods-laden trucks refusing to move.

The Assam chamber of inter state carriers said nearly 30 per cent of the trucks that come to Assam with essentials to be supplied to other states in NE have come to a standstill following the strike.

The movement of freight trains have also been affected as the commodities are loaded in the wagons after it is ferried by trucks.

The halt in trucks coming with essentials from states as Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, have also affected other NE states as they are totally dependent on roadway in the absence of rail network.

Kamrup Chamber of Commerce President Mahavir Jain said the supply situation is being monitored and sufficient stock of essentials have been kept to avoid a crisis. (PTI)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

No place for corrupt persons in Mizoram Congress Govt.

The acting Chief Chief Minister, Mr. H. Liansailova said, there will be no place in the Congress Government for corrupt persons. Addressing Party workers at the meeting held in South Hlimen Community Hall today, Mr. Liansailova said, the Government is to launch a drive against corruption without giving exemption to the Ministers, government servants and party workers as well.

Referring to the Party victory in the Assembly elections, the Agriculture Minister asked the Party workers not to claim the victory as a result of their own effort but to remember that it was a result of prayer by God fearing people. He also asked the party workers in the unit, block and group levels not to create problems for amelioration of the poor and the down trodden people. He also said that the Congress party manifesto has become a manifesto of the Government after it formed a Government and the eagerly awaited NLUP will be implemented to benefit the poor people after making fund provisions in the new budget. The Chairman of the meeting, Mr. KS Thanga, MLA and Parliamentary Secretary also thanked the people for voting him and the party to power. He also asked the Party workers to pray to God for strength. In this meeting, the Deputy Speaker of Herald for Christ, Mr. Lalsawmliana Pachuau asked the party workers to create rooms for the poor and needy persons who expect upliftment from the new Government.

NGOs of Kolasib District asked the BRTF to repair a portion of the National Highway no 54 falling within Kolasib District. In a joint meeting organized by MZP Kolasib Hqrs. today, the NGOs resolved to remind the BRTF authority of the need to repair the National Highway without delay. They also warned that the road may be blocked indefinitely if the repair work is not started before the 15th of this month. The meeting was presided over by the MZP President, Mr. C. Zomuanpuia.


Mizoram Computer Institution Owner Association discussed the need to work in a coordinated manner. A General Assembly held in Aizawl Press Club today, Mizoram Computer Institution Owner Association also discussed various problems being faced by them and asked the Government to find ways for recognition of their institutes.


Rajya Sabha MP, Mr. Lalhmingliana inaugurated Thakthing Zawlbuk today……….. The Zawlbuk was constructed at the cost of over 20 lakh rupees by the Branch YMA. The 3 storeyed building accommodates Committee room Badminton Court and YMA Information centre.


Four MDCs of Mara Autonomous District Council who withdrew their support to the MNF-MDF Government headed by M. Laikaw have formed MNF Reformed Party today. This was communicated to media persons at the Press conference in Saiha today and the Ex-MDC, Mr. HC Valai has been elected President of the new party. The MNF Reformed Party also elected Mr. Lengduna as their Legislature Party leader. In reply to questions, Mr. Lengduna said, the future of the new party is yet to be decided by the party Assembly which will be summoned in the near future. As already stated, 4 MDCs who withdrew their support to M. Laikaw’s Government have formed United Legislature Party with 8 member of the Congress and staked their claim for formation of alternative government in the District Council.


Mizoram Ayush Doctors asked the government to create regular posts for their absorption. This was resolved in the Ayush Doctors Association General Conference held in Tourist Lodge, Chatlang today. They also asked the people to avail their services and the medicines which can be used for free treatment of patients by Ayush doctors posted in all the District Hqrs. Addressing the Conference as the chief guest, the Health Director, Dr. N. Palai said that Ayush medicines and treatment is new to the people of Mizoram and the patients need awareness of its effectiveness for treatment different ailments.


In the on going process of Special Summary Revision of Mizoram Electoral Rolls Booth level and Designated officers of Champhai North and Champhai South constituencies were given training in Champhai yesterday. Addressing the training, the Election Officer, Mr. R. Lalremsanga asked the officials in the grass root level to work with sincerity and dedication. Highlighting the porous border and possible entry of a large number of foreign national into Mizoram he also asked them to enrol only bonafide Indian citizens in the Electoral Rolls. As already stated, the Draft Electoral Rolls of Mizoram have been displayed in all the District Hqrs. and office of the Designated officers from the 5th and the display is to continue up to 20th of this month for inviting claims and objections.


Chief Secretary, Mr. Vanhela Pachuau asked the Government servants to work with transparency. Talking to our Correspondent today, the new Chief Secretary underlined the need to work for the people without anything to hide. He also said that enforcement of proper discipline among the Government employees should not be a problem if the Government servants are ready to inculcate a habit of doing things in proper time. Replying to another question, the Chief Secretary said, enforcement of rules governing the government servants will not be a problem if there is willingness from the government. He also underlined the need to spend funds received from the Centre in a judicious manner for its right purpose to achieve the desired result.


Today, the maximum temperature of Aizawl City is 26.3 degree Celsius and the minimum was 14.6 degree Celsius. The winter day of Mizoram become warmer everyday and today is warmer than yesterday nearly by 1 degree Celsius.


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Thai trade info centre coming up at Imphal

IMPHAL, Jan 9: With the objective of fostering better trade relations between Manipur and South Asian countries, the Thailand Government is setting up Thai Trade Information Centre and Tourism Information Centre at Imphal in March this year.

A reliable source informed The Sangai Express that the trade information centre at Imphal would be opened by the New Delhi based Royal Thai Embassy in response to the Government of India’s Look East Policy.

Councillor Commercial of Royal Thai Embassy Tharadol Thongraung would be visiting Imphal soon to inspect the site for the Thai Trade Information Centre and Tourism Information Centre. He would personally open the trade information centre at Imphal.

The centre which would be run under the aegis of the North East Federation of International Trade would provide information about mercantile activities of Thailand as well as information on Thailand tourism besides displaying certain products of that country.

Meanwhile, the Czech Republic has expressed intention to launch helicopter service between Imphal and Moreh in a bid to boost the bilateral trade between India and Myanmar through Moreh.
For this, the helicopter which may be put into service would have the capacity to carry two tonnes of goods and 20 passengers. For the Imphal-Moreh helicopter service, mobile helipads may also be used, conveyed the source.

In a step to launch the service which may be later known as Ultra Light Helicopter Service, head of Political, Development and Trade of Czech Embassy at New Delhi Jan Kreuerter visited Imphal last month. He also talked with the Chief Minister during his visit.

However, the Czech Republic is looking for a local partner to run the Imphal-Moreh helicopter service. For similar helicopter services in Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh, necessary preparatory works have been completed. On the other hand, the list of items sanctioned for trade between India and Myanmar through Moreh has been increased to 40 from the previous 22 items by adding 18 more items.

The newly added items of trade include utensils of stainless steel, cotton clothes, jewellery, sugar, common salt, spices, bicycle parts, X-ray photo papers etc. In order to facilitate smooth trade interaction between Indian and Myanmarese authorities, cable laying work for a hotline between Moreh UBI branch and the planned Myanmar Economic Bank at Tamu is under progress, added the source.


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Gaan-ngai fest kicks off amid gaiety

IMPHAL, Jan 9 : Gaan-Ngai, the grandest post- harvest festival of the Kabui community commenced at various places within and outside the State from today. Kabuis of Manipur as well as the Rongmei group of the Zeliangrong tribe scattered in Assam and Nagaland States celebrate Gaan-Ngai to thank the Almighty for the bountiful blessing of food crops.

The State level celebration held at Iboyaima Shumang Leela Shanglen, Palace Compound began with the traditional ritual of offering indigenous brew to the ‘Tingkao Ragwang’ deity, chanting in praise of the almighty, fire jumping, extraction of fire in the traditional manner as well as presentation of cultural items including dance and song. The festival will be celebrated for five days.

The Palace Compound celebration was formally inaugurated by the Health and Family Welfare Minister Ph Parijat and Lok Sabha MP Mani Charenamei as the chief guest and president respectively with the former also lighting the celebration lamp from traditionally extracted fire.

Dwelling on varied aspects and ethos of the Gaan-Ngai festival, the chief guest said partaking in the celebration would pave the way for shedding parochial attitude amongst the people and shield the society from destructive forces as such an event provides common platform for all community to share love and warmth.

In his address, Mani Charenamei expressed satisfaction that through celebration of the indigenous festival, the Rongmei people had been able to sustain age-old belief and preserve tradition and culture of the community.

The Outer Manipur Parliamentary representative also stressed on sustaining the indigenous culture and tradition as many indigenous tribal groups after embracing Christianity are at the cross-road, deviating from their original culture and traditional practices.

Reiterating that celebration of indigenous festival has become inevitable in keeping alive the age-old tradition, Charenamei further hoped that the festival would usher in and promote peace and harmony in the society.

Among others the post-harvest festival of the Kabuis was also celebrated at the Zeliangrong Building, Paona Bazar in all its traditional aspect under the joint aegis of the Zeliangrong Union and Zeliangrong Youth Front.

Attended by representatives of several civil society organisations, former MP Prof Meijinlung Kamson as special invitee of the occasion elaborated on the religious and traditional essence of the Gaan-Ngai festival.

At Thangmeiband Nam-thanlong village, Gaan-ngai festivities were kicked off with the participation of representa- tives from different communities of the State.

The programme was organised by All Manipur Ethnical Socio Cultural Organisation (AMESCO) with an aim for promotion of co-existence of all communities in the State.

As a part of the festival, representatives from different communities of the State under the banner of AMESCO brought athen-pot (varieties of gifts comprising eatables, cloth and religious items) from Khoyathong to Namthanlong village.

Residents of the village headed by elders warmly welcomed the guests at the village gate and ushered them inside the village with the shouting of hoi. To strengthen the bond of brotherhood, members of Kabui community exchang-ed gifts with the members of different communities.

Irabot Foundation president Th Iboyaima, AMESCO and AMUCO advisor Dr Dhanabir Laish- ram, Poirei Leimarol Meira Paibi Apunba Manipur president L Memchoubi, AMESCO president LS Guite and Namthanlong village elders L Paosuang and KG Aphunna were the members of the dais in the programme.

In his keynote address, AMESCO general secretary S Nando said that the organisation has been taking part in Gaan-ngai festival in different Kabui villages since 1994. He also said the festival is one of the six selected festivals of the State celebrated by AMESCO with the communities concerned.

The festivals are celebra-ted by AMESCO in order to follow the advice of the elders for a peaceful co-existence, he added. Speaking on the occasion, Dr Dhanabir Laishram expressed concern over the chaos prevailing in the State. He said bigger communities must not undermine the smaller ones so as to bring communal harmony in the State.

AMESCO president LS Guite emphasised on the need to maintain mutual respect amongst the commu- nities. Later the gathering had a grant feast together. Meanwhile, Kshetrigao A/C MLA Thangjam Nand-akishore presented a 500- litre water tank to the villagers of Keikhu Kabui village on the occasion of Gaan-ngai festival. The tank was handed over to the village chief. The MLA also distri-buted prizes in connection with the sports festival organised by Keikhu Chabon Cultural Organisation.


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Friday, January 09, 2009

Ccpur disease situation uncertain with 10 discharged and four readmitted

Lamka, Jan 8: Ten patients of Misao Lhahvom who are undergoing treatment at the district hospital were discharged later yesterday, according to the hospital authorities. Meanwhile, four persons were readmitted, including one who was discharged yesterday. Another four persons were allowed to go today thus making the total number of patients 28 at the moment.

Meanwhile, four bags of rice as well 33 blankets were supplied today for use by the patients from certain NGOs with light fitting arrangement being made today.

On the other hand, a team of medical experts from the state malaria department yet again paid a visit to the district to investigate the disease.

The team comprised Dr. Nimaichand Singh, the state programme officer for vector borne disease control programme, Dr. Y Krishna Singh, the state entymologist VBD control programme and Dr. T Kamini Singh of the VBDTC.

As per an official source the blood samples taken from the patients have been sent to Guwahati and some other test centres and only upon getting results of the tests the cause of the sicknesses would be ascertained.

Source: The Imphal Free Press


Cause of mystery disease in CCpur being probed

Source: Hueiyen News Service

Imphal, January 08 2009: STATE AUTHORITY is yet to confirm the mysterious disease that spread among the villagers of Churachandpur district today.

Sudden death of 17 chickens and subsequent hospitalisation of 32 villagers mostly women with a mysterious illness since Sunday had once evoked a bird flu scare in the district particularly in the affected Misao Lhahvom village,72 kms south of state capital.

Though experts confirmed that there's no bird flu,they're still collecting blood samples of the hospitalized villagers to verify the disease.

Close on the heels of Additional Director of the state health services Dr Th Bhubolchandra's visit to hill district headquarters on Wednesday, a team headed by State Program Officer Nimaichand from state vector borne diseases came down to Churachandpur town today.

"They collected the blood samples of the patients besides visiting the village today" a villager said.

According to an employee of Churachandpur district hospital, most of the patients admitted there complained of high fever followed by unconsciousness.

Presently 28 patients mostly women were given treatment at the hospital after 10 of them were discharged, he added.

Locals believe that the cause of the disease might be related with food poisoning of the recent Christmas celebration.

However Dr Motilal, Director of state health services said it was viral fever.

Meanwhile due to outbreak of another unknown disease/epidemic hundreds of cattles or livestocks including cows, bulls, buffaloes and their calves have been reportedly dying over the last three weeks at Nungba area in Manipur's Tamenglong district.G Poukhuilung,president of Nungba Area Village Authority Association in a memorandum to the Minister of Veterinary and Animal Husbandry sought government's help.Responding to his memorandum,a team of state veterinary doctors have also rushed to the hill district along the necessary medicines.

However there's no report of confirming the details of the disease that hit the remote hill villages till the filing of this report.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


-Islam, Syed Serajul

INTRODUCTION: Bangladesh is the only nation-state in South Asia that is considered to be uniquely homogenous, yet it is not free from the crisis of national integration. The tribespeople in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) region, constituting less than 1 percent of the total population of Bangladesh are demanding separation and have been waging an insurgency movement. The insurgents have been unable to achieve independence or complete autonomy for the region. This raises an important question: What is wrong with the separatist movement?

In the late 1960s, Huntington stated that a revolution or a violent separatist movement occurs in a political system that is incapable of accommodating the democratic participation of the separatist group.1 According to some scholars, a separatist movement may occur due to "relative deprivation," "the determination of an ethnic group to retain control of their own culture, language, and territory," "manipulation of ethnic sentiment by ethnic minority elites for promoting their own career and status," or a combination of all these factors.2 According to Huntington, whatever the historical, political, or social circumstances of a separatist movement, a successful movement must be led by a strong political organization headed by strong leaders who are able to mobilize internal and external support.3 In a recent study, Gurr found that the success of a separatist movement depends on four factors: (i) the severity of the separatist group's "relative deprivation," (ii) the application of "sustained force" by the regime against the separatist group, (iii) the cohesiveness of the group, and (iv) international support.4

Three common propositions can be derived from Huntington's and Gurr's analyses. First, if the state uses too much force and other socio-economic and political measures to suppress the minority group, the group will feel more alienated and more frustrated. Thus, an aspiring minority elite will exploit this sentiment to foment the separatist movement. The greater the degree of deprivation, the greater the chances for the separatist movement to succeed. Second, a separatist movement is likely to be successful if it is led by a cohesive political organization under strong leadership. Finally, the separatist group must be able to mobilize sufficient internal and external support.

In light of these propositions, one may ask: Do they apply to the case of the tribal insurgency in the CHT region of Bangladesh? Bordering Myanmar (Burma) and India, the CHT region consists of 10 percent of the land (5.095 square miles) and 0.45 percent of the total population of the country (see map). The region is a geographically isolated region of Bangladesh. Ethnoculturally, the tribespeople in the region are different from the majority group: the Bengalis. They are of Sino-Tibetan descent and are mostly Buddhists, Hindus, or Christians; the Bengalis are primarily Muslims. The tribes are divided into thirteen tribal groups.5 Since 1971, when Bangladesh became an independent nation-state, they have demanded independence or complete autonomy and have initiated guerrilla insurgency movements. After three decades of struggling, it appears that they have been successful in achieving partial autonomy. Hence, a number of questions arise: What are the root causes of the separatist movement?

What are the demands of these tribal ethnic groups in Bangladesh? What are the dynamics of the movement? How has the government of Bangladesh responded to their demands? Have they been successful in their mission? This paper seeks to answer these questions.


The CHT region was ceded to the British East India Company in 1760, but it was administered as a separate and independent region for strategic reasons. It was ruled by tribal chiefs who collected revenues for the British government. In return, the British did not interfere in the customs and regulations of tribal life.

In 1900, the British colonial government declared the CHT region to be an excluded area (see Appendix A) and replaced the existing Mughal land tenure system with a hierarchy of three: Chief, Headman, and Karbary.6 The tribes remained segregated from the Bengalis.7 In 1935, the British government declared the CHT region to be a totally excluded area. The region remained immune from the turmoil of the anti-British nationalist movement of the Indian subcontinent.

However, on the eve of India's independence, the British government decided that India would be partitioned. In order to maintain geographical contiguity, the CHT region would be given to Pakistan. The people of the region were frightened about their union with predominantly Muslim Pakistan because the logic of the 'two-nation' theory'8 did not apply to the people of the CHT region, who were Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, and animists. They wanted to either join India, as most other tribal areas of Assam and northeast India were asked to do, or form a princely state with other tribal areas of Assam.

A delegation of CHT tribespeople met the leaders of the Indian Congress to press their demand for union with India. Despite the support of the Indian Congress, the Bengal Boundary Commission, headed by Cyril Radcliffe, awarded the CHT region to Pakistan. The rationale was:

the whole economic life of the people of the HT depends upon East Bengal.... There are only one or two different tracts through the jungle into Assam, and it would be disastrous for the people themselves to be cut off from East Bengal.... In a sense, Chittagong, the only port of East Bengal, depends upon the HT.9

The inclusion of the CHT region into the state of Pakistan marked the beginning of hostilities between the state and the tribespeople. The tribespeople had already hoisted the Indian flag, which was lowered by the Pakistan Regiment. A Muslim League leader commented, "If necessary, we shall tame the tribals like elephants."10

Since the inception of the state of Pakistan, the people of the CHT region were branded as "pro-Indian." This mindset of the Pakistani leadership was not inclined to politically accommodate the CHT leaders. However, after independence, the Pakistani government did not take any drastic measures regarding the CHT region because it was preoccupied with other political issues that eventually led to the collapse of the civilian government in Pakistan and the beginning of the military regime in 1958.

The military government, headed by General Ayub Khan, proclaimed the Constitution of Pakistan in 1962, which changed the status of the CHT region from an "excluded area" to a "tribal area" for the first time. In 1963, the first amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan eliminated the tribal area status of the CHT region. In spite of the protests of the tribal leaders, the Dhaka High Court struck down Rule 51 of the CHT Manual, which had given the District Magistrate the power to expel nontribal people from the area. The Court ruled that the provision of expulsion of nontribals from the CHT region was unconstitutional because it violated the citizens' fundamental right to freedom of movement, as stipulated in the Constitution of Pakistan. Another amendment to Rule 34 of the Manual was promulgated by giving property rights to nontribals who had resided in the area continuously for 15 years.11 All these constitutional orders and decrees deepened the sense of alienation among the people of the CHT region.

Once the administration of the CHT region was integrated with the central administration, the Pakistani government attempted to accelerate the process of industrialization in the area. To this end, a hydroelectric project was constructed on the Karnafuli River in the Rangamati District of the CHT region. The construction of the Kaptai Dam facilitated the industrialization of East Pakistan.

Although some industries benefitted from the project, the dam brought devastation to the tribal population.12 The Kaptai Dam submerged an area of about 400 square miles, including 54,000 acres of arable land that is 40 percent of the district's total acreage. It disturbed the normal patterns of livelihood and destroyed the self-sufficiency of the hill economy.

Due to the shortage of arable land, food production decreased. People either moved uphill into the jungles or crossed over to the Tripura and Mizoram states in India. The government hastily decided to rehabilitate the families by giving land from its reserve holdings. In total, the government was able to allocate only 20,000 acres of flat agricultural land of relatively inferior quality to settle 11,761 of the 18,000 displaced families. Each displaced family received only three acres of land that was, on average, half of the original landholding.13

Nearly 100,000 people were displaced without adequate compensation or rehabilitation. The government estimated about US $59 million for compensation, but only $2.6 million was actually provided. It was alleged that the Revenue Compensation Office, which was fully staffed by Bengali officials, was engaged in corruption and discrimination between the tribespeople and the Bengali settlers. It was further alleged that the Bengalis were the first to receive compensation, whereas the tribals had to bribe officials to get their compensation.14

Finally, the dam did not benefit the tribals to any great extent; fewer than 1 percent of them were employed in industries generated by the Kaptai Dam. Most of the business generated from the projects was dominated by the Bengalis. For example, in the areas around Kaptai Lake, fishing became the primary source of livelihood for tribal cultivators. However, they could not get a fair price for their catch because all commercial fishing was controlled and regulated by the Bengalis, who paid an unfair price to tribal fishermen for their catch.

According to one study, 69 percent of tribespeople felt that their food and economic crises were the result of the construction of the Kaptai Dam, 89 percent said that they were displaced by the inundation of their homes and land, 87 percent said that they faced serious hardship building new homes, 69 percent complained about insufficient compensation and the corruption of government officials, 78 percent complained of having no opportunities for jobs on the project, and 93 percent said that they were better off before the Kaptai Dam.15

The construction of the Kaptai Dam heightened the feeling of deprivation among the indigenous inhabitants of the CHT region. The tribespeople justifiably attributed all of their economic woes, social degradation, and political radicalism to the impact of the dam on their livelihoods and culture.

The government of Pakistan remained indifferent to the massive human sufferings of the tribespeople. In 1971, Bangladesh became independent, but the government of Bangladesh continued the policies of the government of Pakistan in the CHT region.16 The Constitution of Bangladesh made no special provisions for the CHT region, and the first national budget of Bangladesh in 1973 made no developmental allocations for the CHT region.

On the contrary, in the name of national development, the government of Bangladesh adopted measures to exploit the land and forest resources of the CHT region. In light of past experience, it was quite natural for the tribespeople "to distrust the development projects of the state, for in each instance, they had been the victims of the state-sponsored projects of progress and development."17

The Constitution of Bangladesh further aggravated the situation. It declared the nationality of the people of Bangladesh as "Bengali"18 rather than "Bangladeshi," which primarily denied the separate identity of the tribespeople. It also adopted the unitary system of government, which ruled out a separate legislature or autonomy for the CHT region.

When Ziaur Rahman (Zia) came to power in 1976, he changed the provision of "Bengali" to "Bangladeshi," which should have been acceptable to the tribespeople. However, Zia's "Bangladeshi" nationalism was different from the tribal leaders' expectation of it.19 Although the tribespeople expected a "Bangladeshi" nationality in the context of a secular nation, Zia's "Bangladeshi" nationality was based on the context of the Muslim identity of the majority Bengali population in Bangladesh.20

The Zia regime eliminated the principle of "secularism" from the constitution and replaced it with "the principles of absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah."21 Instead of being an integrative force, this change deepened the sense of alienation of the tribespeople from the Bengalis because they felt that religion and culture were being used as tools of domination by the majority Bengalis. This was reconfirmed during the regime of General Ershad.

Through the eighth amendment to the Constitution of Bangladesh in 1988, Islam was declared the state religion of Bangladesh,22 which aggravated the sentiments of the tribespeople and other religious groups. Most importantly, the migration of the Bengalis continued after the independence of Bangladesh. The natural migration of the Bengalis was not opposed by the indigenous people because the settlers did not come as land grabbers. However, in 1979, the pattern of migration changed from a "natural" one to a "political" one. The government decided to move landless Bengali families to government-owned "khas," or reserved land, into the CHT region in phases. In the first phase, it decided to settle 30,000 families and give each family five acres of land as well as financial support for the first few months. The second phase was initiated in August 1980 when each family was given either 2.5 acres of arable land or four acres of poorer quality land.

By the end of 1984, an estimated 400,000 Bengalis had settled in the CHT region. In 1948, the tribespeople had formed 98 percent of the population of the region with Bengalis constituting the remaining two percent. These proportions changed radically. By 1962, the Bengalis constituted 12 percent of the population of the region while in 1991 this figure had risen to 50 percent.23

All these political moves alienated the tribespeople. The settlements grossly violated their traditional land rights because the Bengalis were settled on lands traditionally farmed by the indigenous tribes. It also violated Rule 39 of the CHT Manual by which the District Magistrate was obliged to consult the Chiefs or Mouza headmen before making such a decision. In the words of Kazi Montu, the Bengali settlers appeared to them (Hill people) as avaricious intruders and plunders (sic) who are forcibly evicting the Hillmen from their ancestral homesteads and grabbing their lands, controlling retail trade and marketing, monopolising the transport operations in the area, dominating the fishing industry, seizing every opportunity for their own economic advancement and ruthlessly exploiting the Hill people.24

In fact, the intrusion of the state into the economic activities of the CHT region, undertaken in the name of national development, marginalized the indigenous people, which made them suspicious of these activities. They gradually felt the erosion of their rights over their resources. The state of Bangladesh was seen by its indigenous tribes as hostile and repressive. In such a situation, the indigenous tribes were angry, restive, and "ready for insurrection against the core society."25


The seeds of separation that began in the CHT region during the 1960s took some time to transform into a separatist movement; it reached its climax in the 1970s. Initially, the leaders of the movement mobilized support inside the tribes and then gradually sought the support of external sources. The main external support came from India, although moral support came from some international agencies.

Internal Mobilization

In the 1960s, a large number of educational institutions were set up in the CHT region; as a result, the literacy rate among tribespeople soon reached 50 percent.26 The Chakmas were the main beneficiaries of the spread of education. This created a new and literate middle class that opposed the autocratic Pakistani government and their own social and political structures.

The social regeneration and enlightenment of the tribespeople led to ethnic solidarity rather than integration with the modernizing state.27 Some of the tribal elite, such as the Chakma Raja, Tridiv Roy, were accommodated by the Pakistani ruling elite. In its strategy to aid the Naga and Mizo insurgents in India, the government of Pakistan needed the support and cooperation of the tribes in the CHT region.

Thus, despite the devastating effects of the Kaptai Dam, it was difficult to radically mobilize the people against the Pakistani regime. However, some students influenced by Marxist ideologies sought to create an exploitation-free society in the CHT region. Consequently, in 1957, an underground Pahari Chhatra Shomity (Hill Students Association) was created under the leadership of Maobendra Larma. In 1970, Larma formed the Rangamati Communist Party (RCP) to bring about a revolutionary transformation of tribal society.28 Larma was subsequently arrested and jailed, which increased his popularity among the tribespeople.

During the 1971 War of Liberation of Bangladesh, the people of the region were divided among themselves. The Chakma Raja, Tridiv Roy, supported the Pakistan government, so those loyal to him were in solidarity with Pakistan. Even after the independence of Bangladesh, he remained in Pakistan.

On the other hand, though Larma remained quiet, some educated youths joined the Mukti Bahini (Freedom Fighters). When the Pakistani Army surrendered on December 16, 1971, the Indian Army conducted operations in the CHT region and rounded up as many as 1,000 Mizo activists who were fighting for the independence of Mizoram.29

The Bengali Freedom fighters began to attack those tribespeople who had collaborated with the Pakistani regime. They tortured innocent tribesmen and razed their homes. However, when these activities reached a climax in February 1972, a delegation of the tribes led by Larma, the lone elected representative to the Bangladesh Parliament from the CHT region, called on President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (Mujib) and made the following demands:

a. autonomy of the CHT region, including its own legislative assembly;

b. retention of Regulation 1900 in the Constitution of Bangladesh;

c. continuation of the tribal chiefs' offices; and

d. a constitutional provision restricting the amendment of Regulation 1900 and imposting a ban on any futher migration of outsiders into the region.30

All these demands were unacceptable to Mujib. He advised them to forgo their ethnic identities by merging with the Bengalis: "Forget your ethnic identity, be Bengali."31 Mujib's expressed opinion about tribal identity was given wide publicity in the CHT region; it was told and retold to the tribespeople by the mobilizing elite that the government of Bangladesh wanted to make them Bengalis. The tribal elite vowed to fight for the survival of their distinctive social and political identities.

Frustrated with Mujib's unresponsive attitude toward the tribes, Larma returned to Rangamati and formed the umbrella tribal political party known as Parbotta Chattagram Janasanghati Samity (PCJSS). Its armed wing was called Gono Mukti Fouj (People's Liberation Army), popularly known as Shanti Bahini (Peace Force).32

The proclamation of the Constitution of Bangladesh in December 1972 reconfirmed Mujib's intention of inserting Bengali nationalism as one of the state principles, with an emphasis on the Bengali language and culture. Larma refused to endorse the constitution and stated:

This constitution does not recognise the existence of other national communities in Bangladesh.... It makes no mention about the CHT. The British had given recognition to our separateness, the 1962 Constitution of Pakistan duly recognised our separate status...but from the Constitution of Bangladesh we have not gained comes as a surprise to me that the framers of Constitution have forgotten my land, my people.... We have been deprived of our rights.... You can not impose your national identity on others. I am a Chakma, not a Bengali. I am a citizen of Bangladesh, Bangladeshi. You are also Bangladeshi but your national identity is Bengali.... They (tribal people) can never become Bengali.33

Consequently, Larma walked out of Parliament and began to mobilize the tribes for an armed movement based on the Communist ideology and tactics that he had cherished all his life. The movement enjoyed extensive support among the Chakma tribespeople and others. The mobilization process was slow but steady. The armed cadre initially consisted of hard-core party activists and the coopted members of the Civil Armed Forces who were hiding in the jungle and who had access to large caches of arms and ammunition left by the fleeing Pakistani Army.

School teachers indoctrinated students by emphasizing their differences from the people from the plains and by pointing out their economic and cultural domination by the Bengalis. The people were motivated and mobilized by slogans that stressed their differences in their ethnic identity, the economic disparity, the migration of Bengalis to the CHT region, and the Islamization of the country. The formation of identity across diverse tribes with different languages was possible because it served as a defensive mechanism against the dominant and encroaching core society.34 The socialist ideology of the PCJSS helped to organize the separatist movement. The dominant society was viewed as:

an oppressive class and the party was waging class-war for the liberation of the suppressed community. Class and ethnicity were blended to define the ideology and motivation behind mobilization for collective action. The prospects for economic development after emancipation from Bangladesh provided the incentive for collective action.35

Larma's ideology was complex and unclear to many hard-core members of the PCJSS. Some party members found him uncompromising, rigid, and blind to geopolitical realities and needs. In 1982, Priti Kumar Chakma, a powerful member of the Central Committee, advocated a quick solution to the movement, even if it amounted to joining the Indian Federation as a state.36 Larma did not endorse such an idea because he considered India to be a hegemonic and imperialistic power. He wanted to continue the struggle to show his conviction in the ideology of socialism.

Priti Kumar Chakma formed a parallel organization called the Jana Sanghati Samity (People's Solidarity Association). The two groups clashed, and Larma was assassinated in 1983. Fearing reprisals from the Larma group, most members of the Priti group eventually surrendered to Bangladeshi Security Forces. Priti Chakma was given protection by the Indian government, and he was granted political asylum.

External Mobilization

The support from the government of India helped the CHT insurgents continue their separatist movement. After the 1975 assassination of Mujib, who had maintained close ties with India, the Zia regime followed a foreign policy leaning more to the West and to the Arab countries, even to Pakistan, and moving away from the Indian sphere of influence. This resulted in the rise of India-Bangladesh tensions.

Larma had already crossed over to India in order to operate the insurgency from its Tripura base in India. The Indian government began to offer sanctuary, finances, training facilities, arms, and ammunition to the insurgents.37

During the 1960s, the Naga National Army began to struggle against Delhi's authority in the Naga Hills. Pakistan availed itself of this opportunity. Its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) offered arms and sanctuary to the guerrillas, who operated from the CHT region. Later, the Mizo insurrection, operating from remote CHT bases at Ruma, Bolipara, Mowdak, and Thanchi, received similar assistance from the ISI. These clandestine operations assumed top priority in Pakistan's CHT policy. The region became an ISI preserve.38

China became involved in supporting these covert operations after the Sino-India War in 1962. China did not support the emergence of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971. Moreover, following the independence of Bangladesh, its leadership and foreign policy was obviously pro-India.

However, the Indocentric perception of South Asian security championed by India is not shared by small neighbours like Bangladesh, which has given rise to tensions between India and her smaller neighbours. Subsequently, as Bangladesh developed friendly relations with China and Pakistan, the Indian government helped the insurgents.

In the post-1975 period, Bangladesh received huge moral support from Pakistan and military aid from China, the two archenemies of India. India, therefore, considered providing full scale support to the Shanti Bahini as a useful bargaining tool against Bangladesh. John Laffin affirms that the Shani Bahini were trained and equipped by India and Russia, just as the Nagas and Mizos were trained by China.39

Consequently, after 1975, the CHT insurgents received a regular supply of arms from India. The Indian intelligence organization, Research Analysis Wing (RAW), became very active in the area. The Indian army offered training to the insurgents in various military and paramilitary academies. In 1991, Animesh Dewan, a captured captain from the Shanti Bahini, confessed that India had given 300 G-3 rifles to the insurgents during 1989 to intensify their operations.40

Chittagong Cantonment in Bangladesh maintains a museum of the collections from its counter-insurgency operations in the CHT region, where there is a display of a large quantity of captured Indian arms and ammunition.41 India also uses the refugees of the CHT region against its own Mizo and Tripura dissidents. It believes that the refugees will support the Indian government because they are dependent on the government for their own survival.

The insurgents have also tried to draw the attention of international agencies. The PCJSS activists went to different countries with travel documents provided by India. The insurgents have been able to get international publicity through the Indian media. In addition, refugee camps in India have helped the insurgents arouse international humanitarian concerns.

The activists gained the attention of several humanitarian organizations, such as Amnesty International, the Anti-Slavery Society, and the International Working Group on Indigenous Affairs (Denmark).42 They have also raised the issue in the United Nations and have requested that the conflict be settled. However, they have not been very successful.

In brief, the insurgents of the CHT region have mobilized internal and external support, but it is very weak. Internally, the activists are divided, and the movement lacks strong leadership. Externally, it is still not very strong even though India has shown some sympathy, provided aid to the refugees, and offered training to the activists.

The eruption of separatist insurgency in Assam, waged by the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and their alleged contacts with Bangladesh authorities, has raised new concerns in the minds of Indian policy makers, and they have reviewed the cost of supporting the insurgency movement in Bangladesh.

Such an insurgency in Assam potentially could isolate northeastern India from the rest of the country and pose serious threats to the integrity of the country. China and Pakistan would only be to happy to see India downsized or even dismembered. Alarmed by the rapid development of dissent in Assam, the present Indian government has refused to supply arms and ammunition to the CHT insurgents and have been told to settle their demands peacefully with the government of Bangladesh through negotiations. A cease-fire is now in effect, and the peace agreement signed in 1997 by the government of Bangladesh and the PCJSS foretells the end of ethnic violence that has engulfed the area for nearly half a century.


During British colonial rule and in united Pakistan, the CHT tribespeople remained silent, despite their exploitation. The insurgency movement really began after the independence of Bangladesh. The government of Bangladesh initially pursued the "control model," but since the late 1980s, it has followed a "persuasion" model of compromise and conciliation by providing some autonomy to the region and by accommodating the elites in central and local administrations.

Under the first model, the government attempted to eliminate the separate identity of the tribespeople and then attempted to populate the area with Bengalis in order to make a demographic shift in the region. In order to develop the area, the government undertook massive development projects. Rather than stopping the insurgency, these initiatives aggravated the sentiments of the tribespeople. As has been mentioned earlier, it was only in 1997 that the government of Bangladesh signed a peace agreement with the insurgents.

In the aftermath of independence, the tribes were asked to forget their ethnic identity and become Bengalis. In an electoral speech in 1973, Mujib declared, "From this day onward, the tribals are being promoted into Bengalis."43 This attitude helped to crystallize the sense of nationhood among the tribes. Furthermore, the Bangladesh Parliament passed a bill in 1974 declaring Bangladesh a unicultural and unilingual nation-state. The stage was thereby set for carving a homogeneous nation-state patterned around the dominant Bengali culture.

Larma expressed the anxiety of his people at this cultural intrusion by the central power structure when he stated in Parliament, "Our main worry is that our culture is threatened with extinction.... We want to live with our separate identity."44 From the ideas of one language, one culture, and one nation, the Mujib government moved toward the concept of one national party in 1974. He had little sympathy for any dividing tendency.

The second strategy of the government aimed at ameliorating the centuries-old neglect of the area by undertaking massive development projects. The government hoped that rapid development of the area would bring economic benefits to the people and reduce the gap between the core and the periphery.

In 1973, the government decided to set up a separate board for the development of the CHT region; the board was finally established in 1976. The major objectives of the board were "to encourage the local participation and decentralization of decision-making in the preparation and implementation of development programs throughout the CHT [region]."45

In order to achieve the objectives, many new schools, colleges, roads, hospitals, and cottage industries were established in the region. However, the tribespeople viewed the development projects suspiciously. They regarded the educational institutions as a state-sponsored program of mental regimentation in order to acculturate the tribes people into Bengali culture and to integrate them into the mainstream of Bangladesh society. They alleged that the roads were built in order to provide easy access to the Bengalis and to the army. The roads also allowed for the unbridled exploitation of the resources of the CHT region.

In 1983, the government provided entrepreneurs with special incentives for investing in the area-tax relief, interest reductions on bank loans, and tax holidays-for 12 years, but because the tribespeople lacked necessary capital and skills, these incentives were primarily designed to benefit the Bengali business community. All these complaints arose primarily because tribal leaders were neither members of the CHT Board nor were they consulted before the formulation of development strategies. In reality, the government totally disregarded the wishes and aspirations of the tribespeople.

The government also undertook the strategy of populating the area with Bengalis, who were provided with numerous benefits and incentives. The migration of Bengalis to the CHT region became particularly problematic because of the political designs of the Bangladeshi government. The real motive behind this settlement was the government's intent to colonize the CHT region by bringing about a demographic shift in the region. Once the Shanti Bahini started killing the migrated Bengalis, the government sent security forces and the army into the area. A full-scale guerrilla war ensued.

The army began to act independently of the civil administration because it received unlimited power. A multitude of reports detailed the killings, destruction of villages, plunder, rape, and torture committed by the army. By 1981, continuous clashes between the forces of the army and the Shanti Bahini had created thousands of casualties, which led to an exodus of as many as 70,000 tribespeople to India.46

After the death of Ziaur Rahman, General Ershad came to power in 1982. The regime initially followed the force model, but within three years, it began to adopt a policy of compromise. The government first declared a general amnesty for members of the Shanti Bahini and urged the refugees to come back. Then the government asked the Bahini to list its demands.

The Bahini responded with the following demands: (1) self-determination within Bangladesh with a separate legislature; (2) restitution of all lands taken by Bengali immigrants since 1970; (3) constitutional arrangements for the preservation of the indigenous cultures and their identities; (4) free movement and commerce within the district; (5) freedom from official harassment; and (6) a paramilitary force recruited from among the ethnic groups.47 In response to these demands the government partially conceded and approved a bill providing for decentralization on March 1, 1989. It signified the first real hope for an end to the vicious and bloody conflict in the CHT region.

Accordingly, the CHT region was divided into three districts: Rangamati, Khagrachhari, and Bandarbon. In each district, a local council of officials directly elected by the people of the region was set up. The councils were largely autonomous bodies responsible for civil administration, including the appointment of the police. The chairmen of the councils, invariably tribesmen, were given the rank of deputy minister. The councils were entrusted with the power to approve or prohibit the transfer or sale of land rights and also to repossess land fraudently or corruptly obtained.

Furthermore, the tribespeople were given special quotas for government service as well as for admission into schools, colleges, and universities. However, these steps did not satisfy all members of the Shanti Bahini. First, it was alleged that the District Councils Act of 1989 had no constitutional basis because it was only an act of Parliament that could be replaced or changed at any time. Second, the act was conspicuously silent on the issue of Bengali settlers. Third, there was no provision to return land occupied by Bengalis. Consequently, the militant members of the Bahini continued their underground operations, and the demand for full autonomy continued to be made. The tribal refugees also remained in Tripura, India.48

In July 1992, the government constituted a nine-member committee on the CHT region to recommend a solution to the government. In the backdrop of the initiative of the government, the PCJSS unilaterally declared a cease-fire for 3 months beginning in August 1992. Until March 1996, seven rounds of talks were held between the committee members and the PCJSS leaders, but nothing was achieved.

In October 1996, the government formed a new eleven-member committee on the CHT region. After a year of meetings and negotiations between Committee members and the PCJSS leaders, a peace accord was signed and executed on December 2, 1997, which apparently brought peace to the region, despite strong protests by opposition political parties and extremists in the Shanti Bahini.

The most salient feature of the accord (see Appendix B) is the establishment of the CHT Regional Council comprising the local government councils of the Three Hill Districts. It has 22 members, and its tenure is five years. The regional council chairman, who shall be a tribal and who has the status of state minister, as well as other members of the Regional Council, are elected by members of the Three Hill District Councils.

Two thirds of the Regional Council members, 12 male and 2 female, are elected from among the tribal population, with a special quota for each tribe.49 One third of the Regional Council Members, 6 male and one female, are elected from the nontribal population of the CHT region, with members of each of the three Hill District Councils electing 2 male members of the Regional Council. There are no geographical conditions attached to the election of the nontribal female member.

The Regional Council has a coordinating function with regard to the development activities in the three Hill Districts: general administration, law and order, NGO activities, disaster management, and relief programs. In the event of a lack of harmony or any inconsistency, its decision is final. The government gives special priority and additional budget allocation for the implementation of existing projects and formulates new projects for the development of the CHT region. Any new law in connection with the CHT region is to be enacted in consultation with, and on the advice of, the Regional Council.

It was further agreed that PCJSS members surrender their arms and the government grant them general amnesty. Each family of the repatriated members of the PCJSS will be given Taka 50,000 (US $1000) in one lump sum for rehabilitation. Previous bank loans and interest will be waived, and they will be reinstated in their jobs in government and other autonomous bodies. Age restrictions for family members will also be relaxed. The government will sustain the quota system and will make provisions in civil service and higher education for the tribal population.

It was also agreed that no 'khas' land in the CHT region be purchased, sold, or transferred without the permission of the council. A land commission headed by a retired judge appointed by the government will be formed to finally determine land ownership of the tribespeople by settling land disputes upon proper verification, and they shall record their lands and ensure their rights thereto.

Disputes will be settled by the Land Commission within 3 years in consonance with the law, custom, and practice in force in the CHT region. The decision of the commission will be final. The accord commits both sides to "uphold the characteristics of tribal creed and culture." Finally, under the accord, a Ministry for the CHT region will be established, with a minister appointed from the tribal people.

After the declaration of the accord, the government went ahead with implementing the accord, but it began to face a number of difficulties. First, the opposition political parties, BNP and the Jamaat-I-Islami, staged street protests against the peace accord by declaring it as a loss of Bangladeshi sovereignty.

More importantly, the disaffected political groups in the CHT region consider the accord to have failed to respond to their aspiration of full autonomy. These include Pahari Gono Parishad (PGP, or Hill Peoples Council), Pahari Chhatra Parishad (PCP, or Hill Students Council) and Hill Women Federation (HWF), who argue that the accord has failed

to reflect the genuine hopes and aspirations of the peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts...constitutional guarantee of full autonomy, restoration of traditional land rights, demilitarization of the area, and withdrawal and resettlement of the Bengali settlers in the plain land.50

The disaffected activists of the Shanti Bahini condemned the accord and continued to create law-and-order problems in the area. Tensions emerged between the main tribal group, which had signed a peace accord with the government in December 1997, and the smaller dissident groups, whose demands for full autonomy and independence had not been met by the accord. Each group accused the other side of targeting its members.

In early 2001, three foreign nationals were abducted in the forests of the Rangamati Hill District. After a month of negotiations, the hostages were released. The Bengali settlers consider the accord to be inherently discriminatory in nature. Long-term prospects for peace in the area remain uncertain.


After a long struggle, the CHT tribespeople have been successful in achieving at least partial regional autonomy, if not independence. Since colonial times, the government has been interested in the political domination of the tribes and the economic exploitation of the resources of the CHT region.

After independence, thousands of Bengalis migrated to the CHT region on the urging of the government in order to supersede the tribal majority in the region. In fact, the tribespeople now constitute only 50 percent of their own homelands. "Land grabbing" by the Bengalis became very obvious in the region.

Since independence, various multinational corporations were invited to set up industries in the region that were geared to meet the export market rather than local needs.51 Thus, it became the major area to earn foreign exchange for Bangladesh. The Kaptai Dam is the main source of hydraulic power in the whole country. This pattern of economic development disrupted the tribal economic order and drove the people to the economic periphery. Politically speaking, the government used the force model to integrate the tribespeople into mainstream Bengali culture. Their economic conditions were stagnant, their social conditions were in jeopardy; and their laws, culture, and customs were in danger of disintegrating. Thus, the tribespeople saw no other choice but to resort to violence and a "war of attrition."

It appears that the severity of deprivation made the insurgency movement in the CHT region more aggressive, a factor that met the first requirement of Huntington and Gurr for the success of a separatist movement. However, a successful movement also requires a stable, complex, and adaptable institution. No movement can succeed if it is led by a weak organization. The tribespeople in the CHT region have organized liberation fronts, but the spokesperson of the liberation movement, the PCJSS, remained weak compared to organizations in many other parts of the world.

The leader, Manabendra Larma, lacked coherent, effective political tactics, and he was consequently assassinated by his own people. His death gave birth to another organization, but none of the organizations has any record of creating a large number of revolutionary cadres such as one could find in the MNLF or MILF of Mindanao in the Philippines or any other successful separatist movement. The revolutionary organizations in the CHT region seemed to be struggling against each other rather than against the government.

A revolutionary movement requires not only strong organization but also the support of social groups. The tribepeoples in the CHT region have failed to mobilize support internally and externally. At home, the tiny minority tribespeople are divided among themselves. There is a common consciousness among the tribespeople in the CHT region about their identity, but this consciousness needs to be translated into real terms. First of all, they are divided into thirteen tribal groups.

There is a dominant belief among the tribes that even if the region becomes autonomous, it will be overshadowed by the dominant tribe, the Chakmas.52 In fact, a majority of the members of the militant group of the Shanti Bahini are Chakmas. As such, the tribespeople lack the common cultural and social denominators-language, religion, culture, social norms, customs, and history-that may identify them as a single national or cultural entity, as claimed by the PCJSS.

Mackenzie's and Lewin's accounts also tell us that in the past there was constant warfare among the different tribes. After the peace accord, a fraction of the Shanti Bahini has condemned the PCJSSS for settling for less than their stated goals. Externally, no other country besides India has really helped the insurgents. However, even India has stopped helping them because the present regime of Bangladesh is friendly with India. Besides, India must deal with its own problems of separatism in the northeastern region of the country.

In conclusion, it can be stated that unity based on a religious or ethnic identity may not necessarily lead to the success of a movement unless that group in question is severely affected by social, economic, and political deprivations. If the government is accommodating, then a separatist movement falters. It is the magnitude of a state's socioeconomic and political intrusions and its repression of minorities that seem to have much to do with the success of a separatist movement.

One may find similar trends in other separatist movement cases. The Sunni Muslim Berbers in Algeria and Morocco, for example, have failed in their separatist movements because both governments have made concessions to the cultural interests of the Berbers and have accommodated them with a degree of economic and political powers.

Similarly, the Sikhs in India's Punjab have failed to achieve an independent Khalistan for a variety of reasons including the weakness of the deprivation factor. In fact, Sikhs dominate politically at the state level, and hold top positions in the Indian civil and military bureaucracies. Furthermore, not all or even most Sikhs favored independence. For example, the Akali Dal, Punjab's premier Sikh political party, did not support the separatist cause. Consequently, the separatist movement failed to mobilize sufficient internal or external support.

Conversely, the separatist movement in Bangladesh in 1971 was successful because the Bengalis were severely deprived. The movement was led by a strong organization, the Awami League, which was aided and supported directly by India and the Soviet Union during its War of Liberation. In contrast, the tribespeople of Bangladesh's CHT region have supported a separatist movement that did not achieve independence because the government successfully negotiated political accommodation. In November 1997, it signed a peace treaty with the Shanti Bahini and partially met their demands. Thus, though religion or culture may provide a separatist movement with an initial bond of unity and identity, such a movement becomes successful only if there exists little accommodation, if the movement is led by a strong and cohesive political organization, and if it gains support at home and abroad.


1. Samuel P. Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1968), p. 275.

2. For details, see Michael Hechter, The Celtic Fringe in British National Development (Berekeley, CA: University of California Press, 1975); Walker Connor, "Eco or Ethno-nationalism?" Ethnic and Racial Studies 7:3(July 1984) pp. 342-59. Anthony Birch, "Minorities Nationalist Movement and Theories of Political Integration," World Politics 30:3 (1978) pp. 325-44; Anthony D. Smith, The Ethical Revival (Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 1981) and David Brown, "From Peripheral Communities to Ethnic Nations," Pacific Affairs 61 (1988), pp. 51-71.

3. Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies, p. 276.

4. Ted Robert Gurr, Minorities At Risk: A Global View of Ethno Political Conflicts (Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace, 1993), pp. 123-38.

5. They are Chakma, Marma, Tripura, Tanchangya, Riang, Murang, Lusai, Bunjogees and Pankhos, Kukis, Chak, Khumi, Mro, and Kheyang. The Chakmas, Marmas and Tripuras constitute 90 percent of the tribal population. For details see, Mizanur Rahman Shelley, The Chittagong Hill Tracts: The Untold Story (Dhaka: Centre for Development Research, 1992), pp. 44-52.; T.H. Lewin, The Hill Tribes of Chittagong and the Dwellers Therein With Comparative Vocabularies of the Hill Dialects (Calcutta: Bengal Print; H.H. Risely, 1892); R.H.S. Huchinson, An Account of Chittagong Hill Tracts (Calcutta: Edward T. Dalton, 1872); Lucien Bernot and Lucien Denise, "Chittagong Hill Tribes," in Stanley Maron, (ed.) Pakistan: Society and Culture (New Haven: Human Relations Area Files, 1957); Pierre Bessaignet, Tribesmen of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (Dhaka: Asiatic Society of Pakistan, 1958), Alexander Mackenzie, History of the Relations of the Government With the Hill Tribes of the NorthEast Frontier of Bengal (Calcutta: Home Office Department Press, 1884).

6. The Chiefs were equivalent to tribal rajas. A Headman was a representative of the Chief, placed in charge of a 'Mouza' comprising a number of villages. Each village head was called a 'Karbari.'

7. The Bengalis are a mixed group of Austrio-negroid, Dravidian and Aryan peoples.

8. The Muslim League's rationale for Pakistan was based on a 'two nation theory' which argued that in British India the Muslims and Hindus, as political communities, formed two different nations and hence the Muslims should have a separate state. See Louis D. Hayes, Politics in Pakistan: Struggle for Legitimacy (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1984), pp. 50-51; and K.B. Sayeed, Politics in Pakistan: The Nature and Direction of Change (New York, NY: Praeger, 1980).

9. In fact, the Congress leadership made every effort to include the CHT into India. The Congress leader, Sardar Patel, also wrote a letter to Lord Mountbatten. See, Urmila Phadmis, "Woes of Tribals in Bangladesh," Times of India, January 5, 1981; H.V. Hodson, The Great Divide (London: Huchinson & Co Publishers Ltd. 1969), p.350.

10. Cited in Amena Mohsin, The Politics of Nationalism (Dhaka: University Press Ltd., 1997), p.37. For reaction to this statement, see Sidharta Chakma, Prasanga Parbatta Chattogram [With Reference to Chittagong Hill Tracts]( Calcutta: Jointa Shah, 1985).

11. For details see Mohsin, The Politics of Nationalism, p. 46 and Shahed Kamal, The Ethno-Nationalist Movement in Northeast India and Bangladesh (Kingston: Queen's University, an Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, 1995), p. 186.

12. Syed Nazmul Islam, "Karnafuli Project: Its Impact on Tribal Population," Public Administration, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Summer, 1976), pp. 31-33; M.Q. Zaman, "Tribal Issues and National Integration : The Chittagong Hill Tracts Case," in Mahmud S. Qureshi (ed.) Tribal Cultures in Bangladesh (Rajshahi: Institute of Bangladesh Studies, 1984), p. 77.

13. Syed Nazmul Islam, "The Kharnafuli Project.." p. 31, See also, M. Nurul Amin, Secessionist Movements in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Regional Studies (Pakistan), Vol. 7(1990).

14. Bertil Linter, "Tribal Turmoil," Far Eastern Economic Review, April 5, 1990. P. 24.

15. R. I. Chowdhury, Tribal Leadership and Political Integration: A Case Study of Chakma and Mong of Chittagong Hill Tracts (Chittagong: University of Chittagong, 1979), pp. 126-130.

16. Wolfgang Mey, (ed.) They Are Now Burning Village After Village: Genocide in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh (Copenhagen: International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, 1984).

17. Amena Mohsin, The Politics of Nationalism, P. 116.

18. Government of the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh, The Constitution of the People's Republic of Bangladesh (Dhaka: Ministry of Law and Parliamentary Affairs, 1972).

19. Government of Bangladesh, The Constitution of Bangladesh (as modified up to 1978)(Dhaka: 1978).

20. Golam Hossain, Civil-Military Relations in Bangladesh: A Comparative Study (Dhaka: Academic Publishers, 1991), pp. 100-101.

21. The Constitution of Bangladesh, 1976.

22. Syed Serajul Islam, "The Politics of Islam in Bangladesh," in Santosh Saha and Thomas Carr, (eds.) Religious Fundamentalism in Developing Countries (London: Greenwood Press, 2001).

23. Shahed Kamal, The Ethno-Nationalist Movement in Northeast India and Bangladesh, p. 146.

24. Kazi Montu, "Tribal Insurgency in Chittagong Hill Tracts," Economic and Political Weekly (Bombay), September 6, 1980, p. 1510.

25. M.Q. Zaman, "Tribal Crisis..". p.35.

26. M. Ishaq (ed.) Bangladesh District Gazetteers: Chittagong Hill Tracts (Dhaka: Ministry of Cabinet Affairs, 1971), p. 199.

27. Stephen Tolumin, Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernization (Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press, 1990) and Claude Welch , Political Modernization: A Reader (Belmont, CA: 1967) argue that the modernization process often gives rise to segregate forces instead of integration of different communities in a society.

28. The RCP operated as a clandestine organization as there was a ban on communist parties in Pakistan. See Shelley, The Chittagong Hill Tracts, p. 32.

29. Hayat Hussain, "Problems of National Integration in Bangladesh," in S.R. Chakravarty, (ed.) Bangladesh: History and Culture (New Delhi: South Asian Publisher, 1971), p. 201.

30. Syed Azizul Ahsan and Bhumitra Chakma, "Problems of National Integration in Bangladesh: The Chittagong Hill Tracts," Asian Survey, Vol. 29, No. 10 (October 1989), p. 967.

31. See The Proceedings of the Constituent Assembly of Bangladesh, 2-9, October 25, 1972 pp. 292-296 and 2-13, October 31, 1972, pp. 451-453.

32. Mizanur Rahman Shelley, "Nation Building and Political Development in Bangladesh," in M.A. Hafiz and Abdur Rahman Khan (eds.) Nation-Building in Bangladesh: Retrospect and Prospects (Dhaka: Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies, 1986), p. 194.

33. Government of Bangladesh, Parliament Debates, October 25, 1972, pp. 292-295.

34. Willem van-schendel, "The Invention of the 'Jummas' State Formation and Ethnicity in South Eastern Bangladesh," Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 26(February 1992), p. 23.

35. Shahed Kamal, The Ethno-Nationalist Movement, p. 205; See also, Aftab Ahmed, "Ethnicity and Insurgency in the Chittagong Hill Tracts Region: A Study of the Crisis of Political Integration in Bangladesh," Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, Vol. 31, No. 3(1993); and Aditya Kumar Dewan, Class and Ethnicity in the Hills of Bangladesh (Montreal, Canada: An Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, McGill University, 1990).

36. Shahed Kamal, The Ethno-Nationalist Movement, p. 213.

37. Ibid. See also, Imtiaz Ahmed, "Refugees and Security: The Experience of Bangladesh," An Unpublished Paper presented in a Conference Organized by RCSS, Colombo, 1994, pp.10-11.

38. S. Mahmud Ali, The Fearful State: Power, People and Internal War in South Asia (London: Zed Books, 1993), pp.181-182. See also Imtiaz Ahmed, State aand Foreign Policy in South Asia (Delhi: Vikas Publishing House,Pvt. Ltd, 1993).

39. John Laffin, War Mannual 1 (London: Brassey's Defence Publishers, 1986), pp. 23-24. Before 1975 the Mujib government was friendly with India. It signed a secret treaty of friendship with India in which India agreed to protect and promote the security interests of Bangladesh. For a discussion on the Treaty, See Shaukat Hassan, Indo Bangladesh Political Relations During the Awami League Government, 1972-75 (Canberra: Australian National University, An unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, 1988).

40. Shelley, "Nation Building," p. 115. See also, Syed Md. Ibrahim, "The Insurgency and Counter-insurgency: The Bangladesh Experience in Regional Perspective-The CHT," Military Papers Issue, No. 4(Dhaka) 1991.

41. The museum in Chittagong Cantonment is called Smriti Amlan (Memory Untarnished). It displays a wide range of Indian arms, ammunition, and equipment captured from the insurgents by the security forces.

42. Amnesty International, Unlawful Killings and Torture in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, September 1986; Anti Slavery Society, The Chittagong Hill Tracts: Militarization, Oppression and the Tribes, Series 2 (London: Indigenous Peoples and Development, 1984).

43. Sudhin Kumar Chakma, Social Change in Chakma Society in the CHT of Bangladesh (Poona: unpublished Ph. D. Dissertation, 1986), p. 49.

44. Cited in Syed Anwar Hussein, "Religion and Ethnicity in Bangladesh politics," BUS Journal (Dhaka), Vol 12, No. 4(1991),p. 440.

45. Amena Mohsin. The Politics of Nationalism, p. 120. M. M. Huq, "Changing Nature of Dominant Social Forces and Interventions in the Chittagong Hill Tracts," The Journal of Social Studies (Dhaka), Vol. 56(1992).

46. The total number of refugees in India is a controversial figure. The government of Bangladesh maintains that the number never exceeded 40,000.

47. Syed Serajul Islam, "The Tribesmen of Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh," Asian Culture Quarterly, Vol. 25, No. 2 (Summer 1997), p.74.

48. Government of Bangladesh, Government Response to the Demands of the PCJSS (Dhaka: Ministry of Home Affairs, 1993); Bertil Lintner, "Autonomy Plans Fails to Appease the Rebels Intractable Hills," Far Eastern Economic Review, April 5, 1990, pp.22-24.

49. With regard to Male members there will be 5 from the Chakma tribe, 3 from the Marma tribe,2 from the Tripura tribe, 1 from the Murong and Tanchowanga tribes, and 1 from the Lusai, Bwom, Pakgkho, Hkumi, Chak and Kiang tribes. One female member is elected from the Chakma and another from the rest of the tribes.

50., 05/30/2001.

51. The major companies were the West German firm AUH and Halcrow and Associates, McDonnell Gavan and Company, the Australian Development Assistance Bureau, Swedish International Development Agency, and Shell Oil Company.

52. The Chakmas also themselves believe that they are a martial race. They consider themselves culturally more advanced than other tribes. See S.P. Talukder, The Chakmas: Life and Struggle (New Delhi: Gian Publishers, 1988) p. 11-16.

By Syed Serajul Islam*

* Professor, Department of Political Science, Lakehead University, 955 Oliver Road, Thunder Bay, Ontario, P7B5E1.

Copyright Association of Third World Studies, Inc. Fall 2003
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Source: BNET

Rangoon's Christians banned from worshiping

Wednesday, 07 January 2009: New Delhi (Mizzima) - Christians in Burma's former capital of Rangoon find themselves in a precarious state as local authorities on Monday banned the holding of regular church services and threatened to seal off churches if congregations failed to comply.

The Kyauktada Township Peace and Development Council on Monday summoned a meeting of local church pastors from leading downtown Rangoon churches and informed them to stop the conduct of worship services in residential apartments.

"They [the authorities] warned us that our churches would be sealed off if we continue worshipping," said a pastor of a church in Pabedan Township who attended the meeting.

The pastor, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal, told Mizzima that nearly 50 church leaders and pastors who attended the meeting were made to sign more than five papers of pledges concerning the cessation of church services.

"The papers also said that we could be punished [and could be jailed] if we fail to obey the order and the church would be sealed off," the pastor said.

When contacted by Mizzima, an official at the Kyauktada Township Peace and Development Council office confirmed a meeting was held on Monday but declined to further elaborate on the substance of the ensuing dialogue.

However, according to the pastor, authorities sent an invitation to representatives from over 100 churches, mostly located in the downtown Rangoon area, and informed them of the new order.

"We received the meeting invitation last Sunday," said the pastor. "Now we don't know what to do with our Sunday services."

Burma's military authorities had long stopped issuing permits to religious organizations and churches for the possession of land and the building of churches, forcing several local churches in Rangoon to conduct worship services in residential apartments, which are often rented or purchased in the names of private owners.

"Since the late 1990s authorities have stopped issuing permits [to churches] to purchase land or construct church buildings," the pastor said, adding that he himself bought an apartment in Pabedan Township for use as a place of communal worship.

According to church leaders including the pastor, there are at least 100 churches located in residential apartments in downtown Rangoon, including those in Kyuaktada, Lanmadaw, Latha, Pabedan, Bothathaung, Minglar Thaung Nyunt, Dagon, Tamwe, Hlaing, Kamayut, Ahlone, Sanchaung and Bahan Townships.

A Christian youth in Rangoon in an email message to Mizzima said the order virtually puts a stop to Christians worshiping, as most churches in Rangoon are convened in apartments.

"Eighty percent of the churches in Yangon [Rangoon] are included in the order. Only a few churches have their own land. Most churches use rented buildings, houses and office style rooms for worship places," the youth explained.

"We need your prayers for Christian communities in Myanmar [Burma]," the youth added.

While religious persecution and the prohibition of religious rites are not uncommon in military-ruled Burma, the new order, according to another pastor, is an attempt to stop Christians from regularly meeting.

In September 2007, Burma's military junta, in its determination to suppress the people and sustain their rule, violently crushed Buddhist monk-led protests, killing what opposition sources say were hundreds of monks, a highly revered population in the predominantly Buddhist country.


Muslims proscribed from worshipping in residential flats

By Phanida

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Aping a recent diktat against the country's Christian community, authorities have summoned and warned leaders of Burma's Muslim community not to worship in residential flats.

Rangoon's Kyauktada Township Peace and Development Council office, as they did with Christian pastors from the city, summoned Islamic leaders on the 5th of this month and warned them to halt all religious services and the reading of the Quran in residential flats.

"The government doesn't give permission to build mosques, so people of the Islamic faith have to worship in residential areas such as those in Thaketa, North and South Okkalapa [towships]. Now local authorities have warned leaders not to provide religious services in these residential flats," an Islamic leader from Rangoon told Mizzima.

"We had special religious services at night. But now local authorities have banned such services. They warned us not to provide these services, and if we defy the order serious action would be taken against us. So the people are scared and dare not to gather at these places. It seems we have to perform our religious services in a mosquito net. The people now dare not ask us to provide religious services in their homes as has been customary up to this time. Instead, they come to the mosque and read the Quran. However, the poor cannot come to these downtown locations," explained another Muslim leader.

Thai-based Human Rights Education Institute of Burma (HREIB) Director Aung Myo Min said the position of the government is a clear violation of human rights in that the ruling discriminates against a religious minority in Burma.

"According to the latest constitution drafted and approved by the SPDC [government], all are equal before the law, irrespective of their race and creed. This is a violation of the fundamental rights of a citizen and moreover is discriminatory against a minority religion," he expounded.

Further, Burma is signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which clearly stipulates religious freedom and the right to practice one's faith.

"Previously we heard about such repression against religious minorities only in Chin and Kachin states. But now such restrictions are being imposed in major cities such as Rangoon, which shows the deterioration of the situation in this regard," Aung Myo Min added.

A majority, nearly 90 percent, of Burmese follow the Theravada Buddhist faith, with the country's Christian and Islamic communities representing five and four percent of the population, respectively.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]