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Chittagong Hill Tracts

Chittagong Hill Tracts

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The Chittagong Hill Tracts comprise an area of 13,295 km2 in south-eastern Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

, and borders India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 and Myanmar
Myanmar
Burma , officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar , is a country in Southeast Asia. Burma is bordered by China on the northeast, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, India on the northwest, the Bay of Bengal to the southwest, and the Andaman Sea on the south....

 (Burma). It was a single district
Districts of Bangladesh
The divisions of Bangladesh are divided into 64 districts, or zila . The districts are further subdivided into 493 sub-districts, or upazila ....

 of Bangladesh until 1984. In that year it was divided into three separate districts: Khagrachari
Khagrachari District
Khagrachari is a district in south-eastern Bangladesh. It is a part of the Chittagong Division and the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Its local name is "Chengmi"...

, Rangamati
Rangamati District
Rangamati is a district in South-eastern Bangladesh. It is a part of the Chittagong Hill Tracts and the town of Rangamati serves as the headquarters of the district. Area-wise, Rangamati is the largest district of the country....

 and Bandarban
Bandarban District
Bandarban is a district in South-Eastern Bangladesh, and a part of the Chittagong Division and Chittagong Hill Tracts. Bandarban , or in Marma or Arakanese language as "Rwa-daw Mro" is also known as Arvumi or the Bohmong Circle Bandarban is a district in South-Eastern Bangladesh, and a part of...

. Topographically, this is the only hill intensive area of Bangladesh. It is one of the few remaining abodes of Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 in South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

, including Ladakh
Ladakh
Ladakh is a region of Jammu and Kashmir, the northernmost state of the Republic of India. It lies between the Kunlun mountain range in the north and the main Great Himalayas to the south, inhabited by people of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent...

, Bhutan
Bhutan
Bhutan , officially the Kingdom of Bhutan, is a landlocked state in South Asia, located at the eastern end of the Himalayas and bordered to the south, east and west by the Republic of India and to the north by the People's Republic of China...

 and Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

.

Demography


According to the 1991 census the population was 974,447 of which 501,114 were tribals and the rest were from different communities. The tribal peoples, collectively known as the Jumma, include the Chakma
Chakma
Chakma may refer to:*Chakma people, a Tibeto-Burman people of Bangladesh and Northeast India*Chakma language, the Indo-European language spoken by them*Chakma script...

, Marma
Marma
The Marma also known as Magh or Mog are Arakanese descendants inhabiting the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh since the Arakan kingdom period in the 16th century AD. In the late 20th century, their population stood at over 210,000. Ethnically related to the Myanmar, they are largely followers...

, Tripura
Tripura
Tripura is a state in North-East India, with an area of . It is the third smallest state of India, according to area. Tripura is surrounded by Bangladesh on the north, south, and west. The Indian states of Assam and Mizoram lie to the east. The capital is Agartala and the main languages spoken are...

, Tenchungya, Chak
Chak
Chak is a town situated on the west bank of Indus River in Shikarpur District, Sindh, Pakistan. It is an economic, educational, social and transport hub of the adjoining towns and villages of the region. It is home to a population of more than 40,000 people and is a fast growing town with good...

, Pankho, Mru
MRU
MRU may refer to :* "Many Regrets Unable", a short reply to a social event invitation, normally followed by a reason for not attending. Used in various navies.* Mano River Union, a political union in Africa...

, Murung
Murung
Murung is the Festival of Prosperity, celebrated by the Apatanis of Lower Subansiri district in Arunachal Pradesh, India. Though an individual festival, whole villages and indeed the whole of the Apatani people get involved in the festival. It is celebrated in the Month of January or Murung piilo...

, Bawm
Bawm
The Bawm are a tribal group living in the Bandarban district and a small fraction in the Rangamati district of the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh as well as parts of Mizoram. Of Chin origin and speaking a Tibeto-Burman dialect, their tribal population stands at 6,000...

, Lushai
Lushai
The Lusei people are one of the eleven tribes of the Mizo people, native to Mizoram in Northeast India, Chin Hills in western Myanmar and Chittagong Hill Tracts of eastern Bangladesh.-The name:...

, Khyang, Gurkha
Gurkha
Gurkha are people from Nepal who take their name from the Gorkha District. Gurkhas are best known for their history in the Indian Army's Gorkha regiments, the British Army's Brigade of Gurkhas and the Nepalese Army. Gurkha units are closely associated with the kukri, a forward-curving Nepalese knife...

, Assamese
Assamese people
The Assamese people are a well-defined subgroup of People of Assam. Though sometimes they are defined as the Assamese-speaking Indo-Aryans of the Brahmaputra valley,, this definition is not legally binding...

, Santal and Khumi.

The current population of the three districts (zilas) is 1,587,000 at the 2011 Census (provisional returns). About 50% of the population are tribals and mainly followers of Theravada Buddhism. 48% of the inhabitants are Bengali
Bengali people
The Bengali people are an ethnic community native to the historic region of Bengal in South Asia. They speak Bengali , which is an Indo-Aryan language of the eastern Indian subcontinent, evolved from the Magadhi Prakrit and Sanskrit languages. In their native language, they are referred to as বাঙালী...

 Muslims. The remainder are followers of Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

, Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 and Animism
Animism
Animism refers to the belief that non-human entities are spiritual beings, or at least embody some kind of life-principle....

. At the time of the partition of India in August, 1947 non MusIims constituted 98.5% of the population of the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Buddhists were 85%, Hindus (mainly Tripuri tribe) 10%, Animists 3% and Muslims 1.5%

History


The early history of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, a part of the Chin National Territory, is a record of constantly recurring raids on the part of the eastern hill tribes, and of the operations undertaken to repress them. The earliest mention of these raids is to be found in a letter from the Chief of Chittagong to Warren Hastings
Warren Hastings
Warren Hastings PC was the first Governor-General of India, from 1773 to 1785. He was famously accused of corruption in an impeachment in 1787, but was acquitted in 1795. He was made a Privy Councillor in 1814.-Early life:...

, the Governor-General, dated April to, 1777,' complaining of the violence and aggressions of a mountaineer, the leader of a band of Kukis or Lushais ; and that they continued without any long intermission down to 1891 when the Lushai Hills
Lushai hills
The Lushai Hills are part of the Patkai range in Mizoram and partially in Tripura, India.-Flora & Fauna:The hills are for the most part covered with dense bamboo jungle and rank undergrowth; but in the eastern portion, owing probably to a smaller rainfall, open grass-covered slopes are found, with...

 were annexed to British territory. The recorded population increased from 69,607 in 1872 to 101,597 in 1881, to 107,286 in 1891, and to 124,762 in 1901. The Census of 1872 was, however, very imperfect, and the actual growth of population has probably not exceeded what might be expected in a sparsely inhabited but fairly healthy tract.
on the time of parthion Chittagong Hill Tracts had a majority non-Muslim population of 97% (most of them Buddhists), but was given to Pakistan. The Chittagong Hill Tracts People's Association (CHTPA) petitioned the Bengal Boundary Commission that, since the CHTs were inhabited largely by non-Muslims, they should remain within India. Since they had no official representation, there was no official discussion on the matter, and many on the Indian side assumed the CHT would be awarded to India.

On 15 August 1947, many of the tribes did not know to which side of the border they belonged. On 17 August, the publication of the Radcliffe Award put the CHTs in Pakistan. The rationale of giving the Chittagong Hill Tracts to Pakistan was that they were inaccessible to India and to provide some buffer area to Chittagong (now in Bangladesh), a major city and port; it was also argued that its only approach was through Chittagong.

"Two days later, the CHTPA resolved not to abide by the award and hoisted the Indian flag. The Pakistani army dealt with the protest but the problem has not yet been solved.
When the 1901 census was taken there were no towns, and 211 of the villages had a population of less than 500, while only one exceeded 2,000. The population density, excluding the area of uninhabited forest (1,385 square miles), was 33 persons per square mile. There was a little immigration from Chittagong, and a few persons had emigrated to Tripura
Tripura
Tripura is a state in North-East India, with an area of . It is the third smallest state of India, according to area. Tripura is surrounded by Bangladesh on the north, south, and west. The Indian states of Assam and Mizoram lie to the east. The capital is Agartala and the main languages spoken are...

. The proportion of females to every 100 males was only 90 in the district-born, and 83 in the total population. Buddhists numbered 83,000, Hindus 36,000, and Muslims 5,000.

The Chittagong Hill Tracts, combining three hilly districts of Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

, were once known as Korpos Mohol, the name used until 1860. In 1860 it was annexed by the British and was made an administrative district of Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

. As of today, it is a semi-autonomous region within Bangladesh comprising the districts, namely, Chengmi (Khagrachari District
Khagrachari District
Khagrachari is a district in south-eastern Bangladesh. It is a part of the Chittagong Division and the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Its local name is "Chengmi"...

), Gongkabor (Rangamati District
Rangamati District
Rangamati is a district in South-eastern Bangladesh. It is a part of the Chittagong Hill Tracts and the town of Rangamati serves as the headquarters of the district. Area-wise, Rangamati is the largest district of the country....

), and Arvumi (Bandarban District
Bandarban District
Bandarban is a district in South-Eastern Bangladesh, and a part of the Chittagong Division and Chittagong Hill Tracts. Bandarban , or in Marma or Arakanese language as "Rwa-daw Mro" is also known as Arvumi or the Bohmong Circle Bandarban is a district in South-Eastern Bangladesh, and a part of...

).

The last Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, who considered the grant of independence to India as his act of crowning glory, was ambitious to achieve this "superhuman" task in record time. He said that before accepting the post of Viceroy he had told King George VI, who was his cousin: "I am prepared to accept the job only on one condition. India must be granted independence by July, 1948 and I will not stay there a day longer". Mountbatten came to India in March, 1947 and this left him just about sixteen months to complete such a gigantic task. In reality, he achieved it in five months, on 15 August, 1947 for which he was given so much credit.

Originally, the award of the Boundary Commission was to be made public on 13 August. But Mountbatten was reluctant to make this public. According to Philip Ziegler
Philip Ziegler
-Background:Born in Ringwood, Ziegler was educated at St Cyprian's School, Eastbourne, and went with the school when it merged with Summer Fields School, Oxford. He was afterwards at Eton College and New College, Oxford...

, the author of Mountbatten's official biography, the case of the Chittagong Hill Tracts was uppermost in Mountbatten's mind. "He (Mountbatten) foresaw an Independence Day marred by rancour, Nehru boycotting the ceremonies, India born in an atmosphere not of euphoria but of angry resentment. So Mountbatten decided to announce the award only on 16 August when the celebrations were over. As Zeigler writes, "India's indignation at the award of the Chittagong Hill Tracts to Pakistan may have been a factor in making up Mountbatten's mind to keep the reports to himself till after independence".

Mountbatten was himself surprised by the ferocity of Sardar Patel's reaction to the issue. In his memoirs he wrote: "The one man I had regarded as a real statesman with both his feet firmly on the ground, and a man of honour whose word was his bond, had turned out to be as hysterical as the rest. Candidly I was amazed that such a terrific crisis should have blown up over so small a matter. However, I have been long enough in India to realise that major crises are by no means confined to big matters." Leonard Mosley in his book The Last Days of the British Raj puts it "This is a matter for Mountbatten's conscience.

During the 1970s and 80s, there were attempts by the Government to resettle the area with Bengali people. These attempts were resisted by the tribals, who, with the latent support of neighbouring India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, formed a guerilla force called Shanti Bahini
Shanti Bahini
The Shanti Bahini was the name of the military wing of the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti - the United People's Party of the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh....

. As a result of the tribal resistance movement, successive governments turned the Hill Tracts into a militarised zone. Professor Bernard Nietschmann  wrote a letter about Shanti Bahini and the Chittagong Hill Tracts people to the editor of the New York Times by published on October 25, 1986 (archived by the Fourth World Documentation Project) at the Center for World Indigenous Studies website.

Bengali settlers and soldiers have been accused of human rights violations against the tribal minorities, including the massacre of civilians, extrajudicial killings, torture, and, more recently, the imprisonment of non-violent activists. Members of the Shanti Bahini and other rebel groups have committed similar violations, including the massacre of unarmed Bengali settlers.

Following years of unrest, an agreement was formed between the Government of Bangladesh and the tribal leaders which granted a limited level of autonomy to the elected council of the three hill districts.

The 1997 Peace Treaty signed between the then Sheikh Hasina
Sheikh Hasina
Sheikh Hasina is a Bangladeshi politician and current Prime Minister of Bangladesh. She has been the President of the Awami League, a major political party, since 1981. She is the eldest of five children of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of Bangladesh and widow of a reputed nuclear...

 Government and the Jana Shanghati Shamiti or Shanti Bahini has been opposed by the opposition parties as well as a fraction of the tribal rebels. Opposition parties of the time argued that the autonomy granted in the treaty ignored the Bengali settlers. The successive Khaleda Zia
Khaleda Zia
Begum Khaleda Zia is the former First Lady of Bangladesh , and then Prime Minister of Bangladesh, having served from 1991 to 1996, becoming the first woman in the country's history and second in the Muslim world to head a democratic government as prime minister. She served again from 2001 until...

government promised to implement the peace treaty, despite their opposition to it during the previous government's term. According to the Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs, a Peace Treaty between the Government of Bangladesh and Parbattya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti was signed on 2 December 1997. However, Shanti Bahini rebels kept on committing killings and harassing the Bengali people living in the area. There are many accusations that they get financial help from a foreign country to fight for their freedom.

Tobacco cultivation


Tobacco cultivation is damaging the ecology of the area, with loss of trees and soil fertility. Many of the farmers of Rangamati, Bandarban and Khagrachhari districts of Bangladesh have been losing their interests in cultivating indigenous crops like paddy, banana, maize, sesame, cotton, potato, pumpkin etc. as they became defaulters of loans provided by tobacco companies, they said.http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=89101

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