Chittagong Hill Tracts conflict

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Chittagong Hill Tracts conflict
Guerrilla Leader Santu Larmars Hide-out- Duduk Chora- Khagrachiri- May 5- 1994- Biplob Rahman.jpg
Shanti Bahini insurgents, photographed on 5 May 1994.
Date1977 – 2 December 1997 (20 years)
Result Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord
 Bangladesh Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti
Commanders and leaders
GOC of the 24th Infantry Division of the Bangladesh Army

M.N. Larma 

Shantu Larma Surrendered
Units involved

Paramilitary Forces

Law Enforcement Agencies

Shanti Bahini

22,632 (June 1991 estimate)

Casualties and losses
44 (Bangladeshi claim)
500 (Shanti Bahini claim)[2]
5,700 killed
15,432 wounded
11,892 captured and/or arrested
1,552 civilians kidnapped by Shanti Bahini insurgents
(757 Bengalis and 795 indigenous)[3][4]

The Chittagong Hill Tracts conflict was a political and armed conflict between the government of Bangladesh and the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti (United People's Party of the Chittagong Hill Tracts) and its armed wing, the Shanti Bahini, over the issue of autonomy and the land rights of Jumma people, mainly for Chakma people and the other indigenous of Chittagong Hill Tracts. Shanti Bahini launched an Insurgency against government forces in 1977, when the country was under military rule, and the conflict continued for twenty years until the government and the PCJSS signed the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord in 1997.[5][6][7][8][9]

The actions then carried out by the Armed Forces and the Paramilitary forces of Bangladesh groups helping them were projected by tribals as genocide and ethnic cleansing.[10][11][12] There were also reports of mass rapes by the paramilitary Bangladesh Ansars, though these have been disputed.[13] According to Amnesty International as of June 2013 the Bangladeshi government made "praiseworthy progress" in implementing the terms of the peace accord and in addressing the Jumma people's concerns over the return of their land. Amnesty estimate that there are currently only 900 internally displaced Jumma families.[14][15]


The origin of the conflict in the Chittagong Hill Tracts dates back to the British rule. The British, at the end of the 19th century, reorganized the CHT. This resulted in the recognition of three tribal chiefs (rajas) in 1860, (b) enactment of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Frontier Police Regulations in 1881, authorizing a police force from among the hill peoples, and (c) enactment of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Regulations in 1900, giving them rights and autonomy. When Bangladesh was the eastern wing of Pakistan, widespread resentment occurred over the displacement of as many as 100,000 of the native peoples due to the construction of the Kaptai Dam in 1962. The displaced did not receive compensation from the government and many thousands fled to India. After the creation of Bangladesh in 1971, representatives of the Chittagong Hill Tracts who was the Chakma politician Manabendra Narayan Larma sought autonomy and recognition of the rights of the peoples of the region. Larma and other Hill Tracts representatives protested the draft of the Constitution of Bangladesh. It did not recognise the ethnic identity and culture of the non-Bengali peoples of Bangladesh. The government policy recognised only the Bengali culture and the Bengali language, and designated all citizens of Bangladesh as Bengalis. In talks with a Chittagong Hill Tracts delegation led by Manabendra Narayan Larma, the country's founding leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman expressed that the ethnic groups of the Hill Tracts as citizen of Bangladesh should have the Bengali identity which later was proven to be a false allegation.[16][17][18]

The migrated hill Jummas were given with special treatment, as they were the minority after independence in 1971.[19] The rebellion by the Jumma began after the 1971 independence of Bangladesh.[20]


Larma and others founded the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) as a united political organisation of all native peoples and tribes in 1973. The armed wing of the PCJSS, the Shanti Bahini was organised to resist government policies. The crisis aggravated during the emergency rule of Sheikh Mujib, who had banned all political parties other than his BAKSAL and the successive military regimes that followed after his assassination in 1975. In 1977, the Shanti Bahini launched their first attack on a Bangladesh Army convoy.[2][17][21] It is alleged that the Indian government helped the Shanti Bahini set up bases across the border from Bangladesh.[22]

The Shanti Bahini divided its area of operations into zones and raised forces from the native people, who were formally trained. The Shanti Bahini attacked on Bengali Police and Soldiers, government offices, personnel and the other Bengalis in the region. The group also attacked any native believed to be opposing it and supporting the government.[23] According to government sources between 1980 and 1991, 1,180 people were killed by the Shanti Bahini, and 582 were kidnapped.[22][24]

400 Chakmas including Anupam Chakma absconded to India to evade the Bangladesh Army in 1989.[25]Though it was claimed to represent all tribes of Chittagong Hill Tracts, but in reality Chakmas dominated the Shanti Bahini.[26]


Peoples living in the Hill Tracts area were often detained and tortured in the custody on suspicion of being members of the Shanti Bahini or helping the Shanti Bahini. There were numerous check posts on highways and ferries in Chittagong Hill Tracts. [27]

People who are detained on suspicion are subjected to severe beating, electrocution, water boarding, hanging upside down, shoving burning cigarettes on bodies etc. Prisoners are detained in pits and trenches. The captives are then taken out for interrogation once at a time.

Recent Developments[edit]

The accords of the peace treaty have yet to be fully implemented which has resulted in the region remaining heavily militarised and mass inward migration continuing. According to a report from the Asian Centre for Human Rights on 26 August 2003 the UPDF in conjunction with tribals planned and launched an attack on ten villages. Hundreds of people were displaced and it is estimated that ten women, some who were Jumma were raped.

Government reaction[edit]

A map of the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

At the outbreak of the insurgency, the Government of Bangladesh deployed the army to begin counter-insurgency operations. The then-President of Bangladesh Ziaur Rahman created a Chittagong Hill Tracts Development Board under an army general to address the socio-economic needs of the region, but the entity proved unpopular and became a source of antagonism and mistrust amongst the native people against the government. The government failed to address the long-standing issue of the displacement of people, numbering an estimated 100,000 caused by the construction of the Kaptai Dam in 1962.[28] Displaced peoples did not receive compensation and more than 40,000 Chakma tribals had fled to India.[28] In the 1980s, the government began settling Bengalis in the region, causing the eviction of many natives and a significant alteration of demographics. Having constituted only 11.6% of the regional population in 1974, the number of Bengalis grew by 1991 to constitute 48.5% of the regional population.

In 1989, the government of then-president Hossain Mohammad Ershad passed the District Council Act created three tiers of local government councils to devolve powers and responsibilities to the representatives of the native peoples, but the councils were rejected and opposed by the PCJSS.[8]

Peace accord[edit]

Peace negotiations were initiated after the restoration of democracy in Bangladesh in 1991, but little progress was made with the government of Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia, the widow of Ziaur Rahman and her Bangladesh Nationalist Party.[29] Fresh rounds of talks began in 1996 with the newly elected prime minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed of the Awami League, the daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.[29] The peace accord was finalised and formally signed on 2 December 1997.[9]

The agreement recognised the special status of the hill residents.[8] Chakma rebels were still in the Chittagong Hill Tracts as of 2002.[30]

Chakmas also live in India's Tripura State where Tripuri separatist insurgency has ended.[31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fortna, Virginia Page (2008). Does Peacekeeping Work?: Shaping Belligerents' Choices after Civil War. Princeton University Press. pp. 53–. ISBN 1-4008-3773-1.
  2. ^ a b Hazarika, Sanjoy (11 June 1989). "Bangladeshi Insurgents Say India Is Supporting Them". The New York Times.
  3. ^ Chittagong Hill Tract : Peace & Situation Analysis by Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Syed Md. Ibrahim
  4. ^ Thomson Reuters Foundation. "Thomson Reuters Foundation". Retrieved 8 March 2015.
  5. ^ Rashiduzzaman, M. (July 1998). "Bangladesh's Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord: Institutional Features and Strategic Concerns". Asian Survey. University of California Press. 38 (7): 653–70. doi:10.1525/as.1998.38.7.01p0370e. JSTOR 2645754.
  6. ^ "Bangladesh peace treaty signed". BBC News. 2 December 1997. Retrieved 11 June 2008.
  7. ^ "Chittagong marks peace anniversary". BBC News. 2 December 1998. Retrieved 11 June 2008.
  8. ^ a b c Mohsin, Amena (2012). "Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord, 1997". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
  9. ^ a b Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs Archived 8 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Arens, Jenneke (2010). Genocide of indigenous Peoples. Transaction. p. 123. ISBN 978-1412814959.
  11. ^ Jonassohn, Kurt; Karin Solveig Björnson (1998). Genocide and Gross Human Rights Violations: In Comparative Perspective. Transaction. p. 257. ISBN 1560003146.
  12. ^ Begovich, Milica (2007). Karl R. DeRouen, Uk Heo (ed.). Civil Wars of the World. ABC-CLIO. p. 166. ISBN 978-1851099191.
  13. ^ Jonassohn, Kurt; Karin Solveig Björnson (1998). Genocide and Gross Human Rights Violations: In Comparative Perspective. Transaction. p. 258. ISBN 1560003146.
  14. ^ International, Amnesty (12 June 2013). "Bangladesh: Indigenous Peoples engulfed in Chittagong Hill Tracts land conflict". Amnesty International.
  15. ^ Erueti, Andrew (13 June 2013). "Amnesty criticises Bangladeshi government's failure to address indigenous land rights". ABC.
  16. ^ Nagendra K. Singh (2003). Encyclopaedia of Bangladesh. Anmol Publications Pvt. Ltd. pp. 222–223. ISBN 81-261-1390-1.
  17. ^ a b Bushra Hasina Chowdhury (2002). Building Lasting Peace: Issues of the Implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord. University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Archived from the original on 1 September 2006.
  18. ^ Shelley, Mizanur Rahman (1992). The Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh: The untold story. Centre for Development Research, Bangladesh. p. 129.
  19. ^ Mohaiemen, Naeem (15 November 2012). "In Bangladesh, Stranded on the Borders of Two Bengals". The New York Times.
  20. ^ Crossette, Barbara (8 July 1989). "Khagrachari Journal; Seeking Happiness High in the Hills". The New York Times.
  21. ^ Nagendra K. Singh (2003). Encyclopaedia of Bangladesh. Anmol Publications Pvt. Ltd. p. 229. ISBN 81-261-1390-1.
  22. ^ a b A. Kabir. "Bangladesh: A Critical Review of the Chittagong Hill Tract (CHT) Peace Accord". Retrieved 8 March 2015.
  23. ^ Kader, Rozina (2012). "Shanti Bahini". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
  24. ^ Human rights in the Chittagong Hill Tracts; February 2000; Amnesty International.
  25. ^ Hazarika, Sanjoy (8 July 1989). "Under Cover of Darkness, 400 Flee to Haven in India". The New York Times.
  26. ^ Crossette, Barbara (26 June 1989). "Bangladesh Tries to Dampen Ethnic Insurgency With Ballots". The New York Times.
  27. ^ Bangladesh Unlawful Killings And Torture In The Chittagong Hill Tracts. United Kingdom: Amnesty International. 1986. pp. 26–30. ISBN 0862101107.
  28. ^ a b "The construction of the Kaptai dam uproots the indigenous population (1957–1963)". Archived from the original on 4 February 2012. Retrieved 1 February 2007.
  29. ^ a b Majumder, Shantanu (2012). "Parbatya Chattagram Jana-Samhati Samiti". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
  30. ^ Samrat (21 August 2012). "The "Imaginary Line" that Divides India and Bangladesh". The New York Times.
  31. ^ Hazarika, Sanjoy (13 August 1988). "India and Tribal Guerrillas Agree to Halt 8-Year Fight". The New York Times.

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