Chittagong Hill Tracts have been a bone of contention in Bangladesh for the last four decades. The aboriginal mountainous people living in these tracts have been taxpayers to successive rulers – Mughals, British, Pakistan and Bangladesh – but their dream of ‘freedom of development’ always failed to materialize.
In December 1997, the then Awami League-led government in Dhaka signed a peace accord with CHT separatist leader Santu Larma. Thus, his pro-independence Shantibahini entered mainstream politics as Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti (United People’s Party of the Chittagong Hill Tracts), PCJSS. But, Santu Larma passed the last decade of his life in futile attempts to get the peace accord implemented.
Biplop Rahman is a career journalist who has been following the struggle in Chittagong Hill Tracts for almost two decades. He joins E-Bangladesh to share his observations.