26 years of the historic hill peace accord



Alamgir Manik, District Correspondent, Barta24.com
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Saturday (December 2) marks the 26th anniversary of the historic hill peace accord. On December 2, 1997, an agreement was signed between the then Awami League government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the Parbatya Chattogram Jana Sangahati Samity(PCJSS). However, no gazette has been published through Parliament regarding this agreement yet. Through this, the main objective of the agreement was to end the bloody conflict in the three hill districts through the surrender of the guerrilla forces called Shanti Bahini, which had been going on for more than two and a half decades in the hills.

But 26 years after the agreement, the smell of gunpowder still lingers in the mountains. There is a fratricidal conflict going on in the hills centered on the dominance of the regional political parties in the hills. Due to this conflict, peace has not returned to the hill town even after 26 long years of the Hill Peace Agreement. At the time of the signing of the Chattogram Hill Tracts agreement, the regional political parties laid down their arms in the hills, but even today, illegal weapons exercises are still going on in the hills. After the Hill agreement, various political and social organizations have been demanding to stop the withdrawal of troops from the mountainous areas and strengthen the operation of the army to recover illegal weapons.

In addition, the common people have demanded to increase the development activities that the army has accelerated in the hills after the agreement. The contribution of the army during the calamity of the common people of the hills is worth seeing.

On this day in 1997, the then Awami League government was able to end the bloody conflict that had been going on for more than two decades through the historic hill agreement with Chattogram Hill Tracts Association.

Although the government has promised to implement most of the clauses of the agreement, the complaint of Chattogram Hill Tracts Association has yet to fully implement many important clauses of the agreement. Therefore, there is apprehension, anger and frustration among the people in the mountains regarding the implementation of the agreement. In addition, even after the agreement, there was no peace in these hilly areas due to clashes between some regional groups in the hills. Since the agreement, Hill's crimes including murders, kidnappings, extortion have been rampant.

Before the signing of the Mountain Accord, there was only one regional political party, but currently there are 5/6 regional political parties in the mountains. The parties are Chattogram Hill Tracts Democratic Society (JSS), United Peoples Democratic Front (UPDF), JSS Sanskar, UPDF Gonotantrik, Mog Liberal Party, KNF. These organizations are constantly conflicting in the mountains to expand their own dominance. Even though 26 years have passed since the signing of the agreement, there are many complaints about the implementation of the agreement among the hill people.

Their complaint is that although 26 years of the Mountain Agreement have passed, among the basic issues of the Mountain Agreement, land issues have not been resolved, issues have not been handed over to the regional councils and the three mountain district councils and elections have not been carried out, and several important issues including the resettlement of internal refugees in the mountain areas are still unrealized. Because of this, there was no change in the fate of the common people living in the mountains. There are various frustrations and deprivations.

Rangamati Member of Parliament and President of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Food Ministry Dipankar Talukdar MP said, those with whom we have been able to conclude the peace agreement should work together for the full implementation of the peace agreement. No one can be more affectionate towards a covenant than those who make a covenant. The process of implementing the agreement is being delayed due to lack of agreement between the contracting parties. However, we frankly admit that the main clauses of the peace agreement have not yet been implemented, need to be implemented, and the process for full implementation is ongoing.

Dipankar Talukder MP also said that this peace agreement was executed due to the wisdom and courage of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and most of the points of the agreement were implemented because she was sincere. But it must be remembered that there are some complex aspects in all agreements, which demand decision-making in the light of mutual understanding and dialogue in the light of reality. Unfortunately, not everyone understands that reality.

He said, just as there is no hope from jackals, the opponents of the agreement cannot be expected to implement the agreement. But after entering into the agreement, one party has repeatedly lost his way, made wrong decisions and associated with wrong people. Therefore, it is absurd to think of an alternative to strengthen Sheikh Hasina's hand for the full implementation of the agreement.

Depicting the development of the hilly areas, Dipankar Talukdar said that as a result of the hill agreement, the Chattogram Hill Tracts, once called a backward region, are now shining in the light of development. This is a great proof of the implementation of the peace agreement. Reaching the remote areas of the hills with electricity, providing solar power to remote areas where electricity is not available, numerous bridges, culverts, roads, nationalization of medical colleges, universities and schools and colleges, above all the socio-economic development of the hill people and increase in purchasing power. He gave numerous examples.

He said, if we come to power in the future, we will do all the necessary steps to implement the rest of the clauses of the agreement and it is possible for us, only this feeling should be created among the hill people.

Highlighting the issue of arms and extortion in the mountains, he said that the main condition is to create an environment where the parties to the peace treaty can work together. But what we are seeing is that one side of the peace agreement is three to wipe out the Awami League up and down in hilly districts. Until today, in the 26 years of this peace agreement, we do not know that any worker of any political party other than the Awami League political worker has been killed by illegal arms holders who have been talking about the implementation of the peace agreement. If they want to wipe out the Awami League, if they want to implement the peace agreement by killing the leaders and workers of the Awami League, then we think it is living with the bastard.

He said that the distance created between the two sides by signing the peace agreement, the suspicion created is a big obstacle for the implementation of the peace agreement. It is possible to implement the peace agreement in a peaceful manner through dialogue without giving such slogans that we will return to the previous situation without being disappointed. We want all unenforceable clauses to be implemented as soon as possible.

PCJSS vice president and former member of Parliament Ushatan Talukdar said that if the hill peace agreement is not fully implemented, the hill problem will never be solved. He said the full implementation of the Hill Peace Agreement is a significant problem, but not a major obstacle. The main obstacle is a lack of understanding between us and the government. Therefore, due to this, the peace agreement is not fully implemented. It needs to be clear what the government is thinking. Go the way the government is going or come on the right road.

He said, come on the right track, or go on the wrong track. Going on the wrong track will not solve it. But others are symptoms. The more the government delays, the more factions will arise, there will be various weapons, various extortions and more factions will grow. Then the peace agreement will become more complicated in full implementation. Therefore, we want the government to quickly implement the provisions of the peace agreement that have not been implemented and bring peace to the hills.

Meanwhile, Kazi Mojibur Rahman, Chairman of the Central Committee of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Citizens Parishad, said that even after 26 years of the Hill Accord, JSS (Santu), JSS (MN Larma), UPDF (Prasit), UPDF (Gontantric), Mog Liberation Party (MLP) and Kuki- Several armed groups emerged, including the China National Front (KNF). Arms drills, extortions, terrorist activities, disappearances, murders and kidnappings are going on in grand festivals. Pahari-Bengalis are all hostages in their hands. As per the terms of the Mountain Accord, 238 camps of security forces, including one brigade, have been withdrawn from the mountains. 30 divisions have been transferred to Khagrachari District Council, 30 divisions to Rangamati District Council and 28 divisions to Bandarban District Council.

He alleged that the Bengali people have been made second class citizens by calling them non-tribal while denying their ethnicity while making the hill treaty. Bengalis have been discriminated against by stipulating various preferences of the tribe in education, employment and economic activities, social and state benefits. In addition, the regional organizations are carrying out activities against the consciousness, sovereignty, integrity and development of Bangladesh with various benefits of the state. He also alleged that they are conspiring to separate Chattogram Hill Tracts from Bangladesh with domestic and foreign fuel.

On the other hand, the prominent people think that the peace that the common people of the hills expected through the peace agreement has not been fully fulfilled. In order to fully implement the Mountain Agreement, both parties who signed the agreement should come forward with flexibility. And the peace-loving people of the hills hope that both the government and the people's solidarity association will take effective steps to resolve the crisis through negotiations to stop the existing conflict in the mountains and implement the mountain peace agreement.

Meanwhile, on the occasion of the 26th anniversary of the peace treaty, a colorful rally, discussion meeting and cultural programs have been organized by the initiative of the Rangamati Hill District Council. The rally will start from Rangamati District and Sessions Judge Court at 3:30 pm and will go around the main road of the town and will end at the Rangamati Pourashava Ground.

Chairman of Rangamati Hill District Council Ang su pru Chowdhury will attend the rally and discussion meeting as the chief guests, Rangamati Member of Parliament and President of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Food Ministry Dipankar Talukdar MP and others.

Meanwhile, on the 26th anniversary of the Mountain Peace Agreement, various organizations have taken initiatives in different parts of the mountains. Separate programs were undertaken in Rangamati, Khagrachari, Bandarban on behalf of Jana Sanhati Samiti (JSS), the regional political party of the then Peace Force. On the initiative of Jan Sanghati Samiti, one of the organizations that signed the peace agreement, other organizations have taken up various programs, including a rally in the premises of the Kumar Samit Roy Gymnasium ground. 

   

Bailey Road fire: 3 arrested along with Kacchi Bhai's manager



Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com, Dhaka
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Police arrested 2 people and the manager of Kacchi Bhai from Chaie Chumuk Restaurant on the ground floor of the building in connection with the terrible fire on Bailey Road in the capital.

The arrested are Anwar and Rimon, the two employees of Tea Sip, and Jisan, the manager of Kacchi Bhai.

Dr. Kh. Mahiduddin Additional Commissioner(Crime & Ops)of DMP gave this information in a press conference organized at DMP Media Center on Friday (March 1) evening.

Dr. Mahid Uddin said that the fire started from the food shop on the ground floor of the building. The police will be the plaintiff in a case of wrongful death in the fire incident. Anyone from the victim's family can file a case if they want to file a case. Three people have already been detained and questioned in this incident.

In response to the question of the journalists whether there is any negligence of the responsibility of the owner of the building in the incident of this fire, he said that starting from the owner of the building, legal action will be taken against whoever is found responsible in this incident.

Referring to yesterday's fire incident, 46 people have died so far, Kh. Mahid Uddin said, 20 men, 18 women and eight children died in the fire. 40 of the dead have been identified. The bodies of 38 of them have been handed over to their families. The bodies of two people have been kept in the freezer of the morgue. Attempts are being made to identify the remaining six through DNA testing.

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Seven new state ministers took oath



Staff Correspondent Barta24.com, Dhaka
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Seven more state ministers who were newly added to the cabinet for the fourth consecutive term of the Awami League government under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina have taken the oath of office. As a result, the size of the cabinet has increased to 44 members.

President Md. Sahabuddin administered the oath to the new State Ministers at Bangabhaban on Friday (March 1) evening. In the presence of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the oath ceremony was conducted by Cabinet Secretary Md. Mahbub Hossain. Besides Speaker Shireen Sharmin Chowdhury, cabinet members were also present on the occasion.

The new State Ministers who took oath are – Rajshahi-5 Constituency Member of Parliament (MP) Md. Abdul Wadud, Naogaon-2 Constituency MP Shahiduzzaman Sarkar, Chattogram-14 Constituency MP Nazrul Islam Chowdhury, Reserved Women Constituency MP and Awami League Central Education and Human Resource Affairs Secretary Begum Shamsun Nahar (Tangail), Reserved Women Constituency MP and Awami League Central and Planning Finance Secretary Begum Wasika Ayesha Khan (Chattogram), Begum Nahid Izahar Khan (Dhaka), MP for reserved women's seat and daughter of Martyred Colonel Nazmul Huda and MP for reserved women's seat and Central Health and Population Secretary of Awami League Begum Rokeya Sultana (Jaipurhat).

Earlier in the afternoon, the President appointed seven new ministers of State to the cabinet. A notification in this regard was issued by the Cabinet Division.

It was informed that according to Clause (2) of Article 56 of the Constitution, the President on Friday appointed seven people as State Ministers of the Government.

Awami League has formed the government for the fourth consecutive term after winning the majority of seats in the 12th Jatiya Sangsad elections on January 7. Boat symbol won 223 seats in the election. The coalition partners also got two seats elected on the boat symbol. Jatiya Party got 11 seats and Kalyan Party got one seat. Besides, independent candidates have won 62 seats for the first time.

On January 11, 37 members of the new cabinet took oath at Bangabhaban. Among them, 36 ministers-state ministers except the Prime Minister. As 7 new members were added today, the size of the cabinet now stood at 44. Of them, 25 full ministers and 18 state ministers.

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Bailey Road fire in International media



Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com
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Forty four people have died so far in the fire in the building of Kacchi Bhai restaurant on Bailey Road in the capital. Several others who were burnt are undergoing treatment at the Sheikh Hasina National Burn and Plastic Surgery Institute.

The fire was reported at 9:50 pm on Thursday (February 29). After about two hours of efforts, the fire was brought under control around 12 midnight.

The incident of this terrible fire came to the international news agency Reuters, AP, Aljazeera, The Guardian and other major international media. In addition, the news of the fire is being promoted very seriously in the media of different countries of the world. Since the accident, it has been broadcast as 'breaking news' in various international media.

Health Minister Dr. Samanta Lal Sen said that the respiratory systems of most of the injured in the fire were burnt. Their condition is serious. Efforts are underway to save them.

According to a statement of the fire service, they rescued 75 people alive. The multi-storey building on Bailey Road mainly housed restaurants as well as several clothing and mobile phone shops, the fire service said.

The fire service's media cell informed them that they received information about the fire at 9:50 pm. The first unit arrived at the scene at 9:56 a.m. Later, 12 more units rushed to the spot as the fire spread. Police, Ansar, RAB and NSI worked to control the fire.

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Fire originated from ground floor of building: CID



Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com, Dhaka
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Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Chief Mohammad Ali Mia said that the fire originated from the ground floor of the Kacchi Bhai restaurant building on Bailey Road in the capital.

He said this to reporters after visiting the scene on Thursday (February 29) around 3:30 a.m.

CID chief Mohammad Ali Mia said, we have learned that the fire originated from the underground (ground floor) of the building. But it could not be confirmed whether it was due to short circuit or gas. The evidence will be collected and chemical tests will be done in the lab. Then the real cause of the fire will be known.

The head of CID said that the DNA test will be done to identify the identity of the dead body in the fire incident. Legal action will be taken against anyone who is negligent in this incident.

Incidentally, fire broke out in the building around 10:30 on Thursday night. At least 44 people have died.

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