Dhaka to continue with peace accord in Buddhist tribal area


Dhaka : The Bangladesh government has said it would press ahead with vacating army camps as per the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Peace Accord, allaying security concerns of the Bengali population in the Buddhist tribal region.

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A high level committee formed to see the pact’s implementation, 12 years after it was signed, said there was no security threat following the withdrawal of temporary army camps from CHT.

“It’s our duty to implement the accord fully as soon as possible since the previous Awami League government signed it with the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity,” said committee convener and deputy leader of parliament Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury who chaired the meeting in Rangamati, the CHT headquarters.

“I don’t see any security crisis following the withdrawal of one brigade of troops and 35 temporary army camps,” said Chowdhury in an ostensible reference to protests by some Bengali groups.

The Muslim groups are part of the population settled in the Buddhist majority region since the district was allocated to Pakistan when India was partitioned in 1947.

Although the partition was on Hindu-Muslim lines, British arbitrator Cyril Radcliffe awarded CHT to Pakistan as Karnaphuli river, the main source of water for Chittagong port, flowed through the CHT.

About 200 temporary army camps had previously been withdrawn from the CHT at different times after signing of the treaty without causing any disruption to law and order in the region. This time the government has withdrawn only 35 camps, said the committee convener.

The 1997 accord came after years of armed militancy by the Buddhist tribals. It was signed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during her earlier stint in the government.