| A Chakma refugee camp in North Tripura. File picture |
Agartala, June 4: At least 50 Chakma families from Bangladesh have entered Tripura to escape attacks by the United Peoples Democratic Front (UPDF).
The migration follows resentment over the Bangladesh government’s failure to implement the terms and conditions of the peace accord signed with Jana Sanghati Samity (JSS) and clashes between pro-accord JSS workers and supporters and the UPDF.
The families, led by Santu Larma, have entered Ratnpur, Pancharatan and Chakmapara villages under Gandacherra subdivision for security and shelter.
“We are providing them with food and basic needs but they will have to go back when the conditions are congenial,” said Rupayan Chakma, sub-divisional magistrate, Gandacherra. He said from Monday the UPDF people have been launching attacks on the pro-accord JSS supporters owing allegiance to Manabendra Narayan Larma and more influx is likely unless the situation is firmly tackled by Bangladesh authorities.
Official sources on this side of the border keeping a tab on the goings-on in the Chittagong Hill Tracts said the violent movement launched by the JSS and its armed wing, the now defunct Shanti Bahini, had earlier led to untold atrocities on the people belonging to 10 indigenous communities in Chittagong Hill Tracts in the early eighties.
Since April 1986, a massive influx of Chakma and other refugees had commenced in the wake of massive repression of Bangladesh security forces. The number of refugees sheltered in six south Tripura camps at one stage had risen to 50,000 but then gradually stabilised at 35,000.
“A modicum of autonomy has been given as there are three district councils but noting has been done to implement the basic demands like restoration of land and displacement of plainland Bengalis resettled in the hill tracts by regimes of erstwhile presidents Ziaur Rahman, H.M. Ershad and the BNP government led by Bengum Khaleda Jia in 1991-1996. Hence resentment simmers as the tribals who had constituted 97.5 per cent of the Chittagong Hill Tracts population in 1947 are now down to less than 55 per cent and very soon they will be a minority,” said veteran Chakma intellectual Sroto Ranjan Khisa. He said when the peace accord had been signed, the UPDF group led by pro-Indian Preeti Kumar Chakma had opposed it as a sell-out and infighting between JSS and UPDF has continued since.
“If the Bangladesh government does not take steps to protect the land, culture and numerical salience of the tribals in their homeland, violence and other troubles will continue to rock Chittagong Hill Tracts and Tripura and Mizoram will continue to be affected by periodic influx of tribal refugees from Chittagong,” Khisa said.