‘The Chittagong Hill Tracts: A Victim of Indian Intervention’: Book Review

Flag of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (Bangladesh)
Flag of the Chittagong Hill Tracts
Book Review‘The Chittagong Hill Tracts: A Victim of   Indian Intervention’ A K Zaman
Zainal Abedin in his informative and research-based book has reflected the problem of insurgency in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of Bangladesh from multi-dimensional points of view. A number of books on CHT issue are available in the realm of publication, but this book makes a distinctive and analytical approach to rethink about the long-term desire and interest of some vested quarters at home and abroad.
The writer has highlighted all the issues relating to CHT, geo-political importance and economic potentials of CHT in this region, the origin of migrated tribals and   settlers in CHT. The  premise narrated in the book are :
  1. CHT is a part and parcel of Bangladesh from time immemorial and the tribal people migrated to CHT from adjoining areas of India and Myanmar .
  2. The Bengalis have been the original inhabitants in CHT even before British rule in this region .
  3. India plotted conspiracy to destabilize and hinder economic upliftment of Bangladesh by floating guerrilla war in CHT instigating the tribal secessionists.
  4. Only a section of Chakma tribals is involved with the insurgency and majority of resident tribals are against this secessionist group.
  5. During Pakistan rule tribal community never claimed regional autonomy of CHT.
  6. The peace treaty is suicidal and detrimental to the interest of the country.
  7. The withdrawal of army from CHT area will give the secessionists a opportunity for strengthening their position.
The writer has elaborately ventilated root causes of the crisis of CHT, but he exerted little on the measures to resolve the problem. However, this book is undoubtedly a research-oriented document which contain valuable information about CHT. It may be mentioned that even the educated section of our country is quite ignorant of prolonged crisis of CHT and sinister design of India behind it. This book will be a great help to create awareness of the people in home and abroad about the deep conspiracy of India and its stooges against Bangladesh. The writer has categorically illustrated that the tribals of   different communities living in CHT area are neither original dwellers nor aborigines as they try to claim. From historical and anthropological perspective he proved that they   migrated from adjoining areas of China, Myanmar and India , particularly from her North-Eastern region. Their physical stature, dialect, life-style and cultural identity indicate that they are outsiders who settled in CHT.   History also reflects that the Chakma headmen   were under the control of the Muslim rulers. But the tribals particularly the Chakmas intentionally try to misinterpret the concept ‘aborigines’ to draw sympathetic attention from native and overseas communities to achieve their ill interest. It may be mentioned here that a section of electronic and print media, intellectuals, journalists and politicians also echo the same sentiment and express solidarity with the tribal leaders to gain narrow political advantage.
The writer has rightly pointed out the common interest and malicious anti-army propaganda made by Jana Sanghati Samity (JSS) and India. Both the parties are also in favour of total implementation of so-called peace accord. They demand withdrawal of army from CHT region to ensure their hidden agenda. Besides, Indian newsmen, media and intellectuals also share identical views in this regard. But it is very mysterious that India herself has not yet signed similar agreements with the insurgent groups of North-East or Kashmir. India is unabatedly committing large-scale atrocities and violence and enacted various draconian laws like TADA, Armed Forces Special Power Act, POTA etc to validate their heinous activities in insurgency-ridden areas for a long time. Besides, India has not withdrawn its troops and other security agencies from the concerned troubled areas. But India prescribes totally opposite formula for Bangladesh.
The writer has indicated that Indian North-East region bordering CHT is geo-politically and strategically very important and volatile. Besides, this region is also rich in natural and mineral resources. In fact, CHT area is also considered as sensitive and strategically significant from Indian defence and security point of view. The writer truly reflected the intervention and involvement of India in order to destabilize the CHT region to help her to subdue insurgency in one hand and to get direct access to North-East region. On the other hand this will also enable her to contain China.
The writer has pin-pointed that India uses the Chakma insurgents to keep constant pressure on Bangladesh and weaken it slowly and swallow it finally. He has precisely asserted that by doing this India will be able to intrude its own citizens through ‘push-in’ in CHT area from its North-East region. The writer has cautioned about the pernicious tendency of India. He showed arguments that where India herself has been ruthlessly suppressing and torturing the innocent tribal people of North-East and Kashmir with a view to occupying their lands. The writer has also proved that the implicit presence of India trained insurgents in CHT area will simultaneously jeopardize the interest of the Bengalis as well as the tribals of CHT.
As a result, India will be able to project Bangladesh as a violator of human rights and international pressure will increase which will help India to dominate over Bangladesh. The writer in his book projected India ‘s presence of army in different insurgency-prone areas where human rights violation is rampant and atrocities committed by India go beyond description. India makes tall talks and shed crocodiles’ tears about human rights, democracy of other countries but such type of norms are not followed by India herself. It may be mentioned that military crackdown on unarmed minority and civilians in North-East India and Kashmir is not properly reflected in Indian media.
The writer has also clearly reflected the impracticability, non-transparency, and duplicity of various clauses of the peace treaty which needs to be reviewed and amended for greater national interest. Some clauses incorporated in the treaties are directly against the majority people of the land and contradicts the basic premise of the constitution.
‘The Chittagong Hill Tracts: A Victim of   Indian Intervention’
By Mohammad Zainal Abedin, Published by Eastern Publications
16 Silvester House, London EI 2JD, February 2003, ISBN 984-32-0513-2
Pages: 238
A K Zaman, akz5153@gmail.com
Posted by Isha Khan, who can be reached at bdmailer@gmail.com