Colonial History of Chittagong Hill Tracts

 

BY NIKHIL CHAKMA

Decolonization of CHT and restoration of the Jumma indigenous people’s inalienable right to self-determination is historically justified, legally valid and politically necessary.

Since the time of historical period, Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) with about 14,000 sq. km. area in the Indian Sub-continent (now India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) has been the traditional home to the 11 distinct ethnic groups who collectively identify themselves as the “Jumma people”. Today the Jumma people identify themselves to be an “indigenous people” in the context of the history of the three successive colonial rules (British 1860-1946, Pakistan 1947-1970 and Bangladesh 1971-today) in their territory.

The British started colonizing the Indian Sub-Continent in 1757 when the then Nawab of Bengal Siraj-ud-Daulah lost in a battle with them at Plassey (now in West Bengal, India). The Jumma people lost their independence and sovereignty to the British in 1860.

With the end of the British colonial rule, the Sub-Continent emerged into two independent sovereign nations -- Islamic Republic of Pakistan and Secular Democratic Republic of India -- in 1947 on the basis of the principle of religion: the first was formed with those provinces or areas where Muslims were the majority and the second with those provinces or areas where non-Muslims (Hindus, Buddhists, Christians etc) were the majority.

CHT being a non-Muslim majority area (98% Buddhists, Hindus and Christians combined in 1947), its people led by Sneha Kumar Chakma at el joined India on 15 August 1947 with much fanfare. However, the insensible, illegitimate and undemocratic decision of the then Chairman of the Bengal Boundary Commission Sir Cyril Radcliffe declaring CHT to be a part of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) led the then Pakistani army to occupy the territory on 20 August 1947 against the will of its people and the principle of the partition of the Sub-Continent.

East Pakistan emerged as an independent sovereign nation named “Bangladesh” through a bloody civil war in 1971 with the help of India. However, CHT continues to be ruled as a colony of Bangladesh till today!

CHT is a colonial legacy of the British. Pakistan inherited it from the British in 1947 and Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971 illegitimately. Its legitimate inheritor is the Jumma indigenous people.

With the end of the World War II, the United Nations came into existence in 1945 and all the former colonies of the British were decolonized and made free. So there is no ground for CHT to continue to be ruled under Bangladeshi colony.

Therefore, decolonization of CHT and restoration of the Jumma indigenous people’s inalienable right to self-determination is historically justified, legally valid and politically necessary.

Share it to
  • 67
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Leave a Reply

Be the First to Comment!

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of