Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said her government would take every steps to ensure the right of the hilly people on their lands.
She said, “People live in the CHT are the citizen of our country, so they must enjoy their rights on land as like other citizens. We have to ensure it and I hope that CHT ministry will take proper step in this regard.”
The Prime Minister said this while addressing the officials of the Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs at Bangladesh Secretariat.
She visited the ministry as part of her plan to exchange views with the officials of the ministries and departments about the development issues and provide necessary guideline.
Sheikh Hasina said, her government is making all efforts for execution of the CHT Peace Accord so that ‘wind of peace’ is flown in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) and local people get its benefit.
“We want to do everything required for socio-economic development of the CHT. It’s very important for the region as its people suffered most for more than two decades,” she said.
Terming the dispute on ownership of land as the root cause of the CHT problem, the Prime Minister said the government has taken initiative for resolving the problem. “The new chairman of the CHT land commission has already been appointed and the full commission will be constituted very soon,” she said hoping that everybody would extend support to resolve the problem.
State Minister for CHT Affairs ministry Bir Bahadur also spoke on the occasion while Secretary Naba Bikram Kishore Tripura and senior officials were present.
Without naming anybody Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said many people now come to the CHT and show their guardianship. Some of them show their attitude as like friends and well-wisher of the hilly people, giving them different advices.
“But I want to say that the hilly people are our citizens, none except we will see their goods and bads so deeply. She said, “We have signed the peace accord on our own. During the time of hard time of hilly people those friends were not allowed to visit the area and they didn’t raise any voice against this at that time.”
She added,”Now taking the advantage of the peace accord they come here like as friend but I’m not clear about their intention. We have to remain always careful about ensuring the rights of every citizen by protecting out independence and sovereignty as well as carrying out development activities of the CHT.”
Sheikh Hasina said a positive discussion is going on the problems lies with the land law. Both sides should come to an agreement to resolve the problem, she said adding her government is very much careful about it.
She said the government has amended the CHT Development Board Ordinance 1973 to expedite the development of the CHT. The amendment enhanced the financial capacity of the CHT Development Board to take project up to Taka two crore.
The Prime Minister said the government has allocated 1.96 acres of land at Baily Road in the capital for construction of “CHT Complex” to fulfill the aspiration of the CHT people. She asked the ministry officials to launch the construction work of the complex without further delay.
Sheikh Hasina said the government has already implemented 48 clauses out of total 72 in the CHT Peace Accord. Fifteen clauses were implemented partially while execution of nine others remained under process.
She said the government has so far implemented 1,246 projects in different sectors including agriculture, education, religion, communications, infrastructure, health, sports and culture. Steps were also taken for ensuring the food security of the hilly people and facilitate the children of different ethnicities in their mother tongue.
She said the Awami League during its previous tenure increased the allowance of the Circles Chiefs, Headmen and Karfbaris.
Sheikh Hasina said Rangamati Nursing Institute, offices of Jubo Unnayan and Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation (BADC) in Khagrachhari and zonal office of Cotton development board were set up as part of execution of the CHT peace accord.
She said the unrest situation in the hill tracts was very painful for us as a nation. About 64,000 refugees were living in India. It was not proper for us to live in other countries as refugees, she said.
Sheikh Hasina said, “In many countries arms were not surrendered after reaching in a truce with insurgents. But Bangladesh was a rare example that the rebels surrendered their arms with a very short time after signing of the peace accord. At the same time, the government has taken steps for rehabilitation of the refugees.”
Highlighting the background of the CHT Peace Accord, Sheikh Hasina said signing and execution of the accord was not so easy as the BNP and its allies vehemently oppose this. Even they enforced hartal on the day of signing the treaty and arms surrender.
Thousands of Indian flags were hoisted in the CHT areas to claiming that the accord made Bangladesh territory up to Feni district as a part of India, she said. “Overcoming all those false propaganda and barrier the peace accord was signed,” she noted.
The Prime minister said after signing of the CHT accord, her government has been working sincerely for its full execution. “A separate ministry was formed and a committee was constituted for implementation of the peace treaty,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said, most of the problems of the CHT were created by the post-1975 governments willfully. They sent thousands of people in the CHT for settlement and many untoward incidents were happened, which were totally unacceptable.
The government has undertaken massive programmes for development of the area. The ultimate goal is to attain self dependency of the people of the region, enlighten them with education and ensure their access to basic rights.
The prime minister urged the CHT ministry to prepare a plan for the hill districts where to construct preprimary and primary school, residential and non-residential schools, community healthcare centres and communications.
Special care should be given to the healthcare system of the CHT area and health care center and hospitals should be constructed in this line, she said.
Sheikh Hasina said the government has already taken steps for construction of roads, bridges and culverts in the CHT. As well, the government has attached importance on producing varieties of fruits and vegetable and other corns and crops.
The government has encouraged cultivation of maize and other economic crops in some areas of the CHT which was used earlier for drugs. The Prime minister said she has already talked to the ministry of agriculture to encourage farmers for cultivation of economic crops. CHT ministry would have to come with proper planning in this regard, she added.
The Prime Minister said, her government wants to create income generating projects in the CHT including development of small and cottage industries and agro-processing industries and proper marketing of their produces.