Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday assured the ethnic leaders that hill people would get back their rights to their own lands in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT).
She also said the government would extend its all-out support to this end.
“The main difficulties of CHT evolve from the ownership of land. I can assure that you will be the owners of CHT lands,” Hasina said.
The premier was exchanging views with the leaders of three hill districts at her official residence.
Around 400 headmen, circle chiefs, Karbaries (village head), chairmen of three hill districts, parliament members attended the meeting.
Hasina said the CHT Land Commission would be reconstituted soon with the appointment of a new chairman to complete the unfinished task of returning the rights of lands to the hill people.
She also reiterated her government’s firm pledge for full implementation of the CHT accord.
“We have resolved the long standing conflicts in the hilly region, and we will implement the accord for the development of the region,” she said.
The premier urged the leaders of the hill districts to remain alert so that none could misguide them and foil the government’s on-going endeavour to ensure the rights of ethnic people.
Referring to the background of signing the CHT Peace Accord, Hasina said “all governments except us tried to settle the conflict militarily.”
“Only we have seen the problem as a political one. So we had taken steps for official and unofficial talks with the ethnic leaders, and we could settle the issue ending the two-decade battle,” she said.
She thanked the members of the Parbattya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity for reposing their trust in her and surrendering their arms to establish peace in the CHT.
Hasina criticised the opposition parties for not taking any step for implementing the CHT peace accord.
She alleged that the opposition political parties were trying to destroy the peaceful environment of the CHT.
The premier said Bangabandhu introduced honorarium for circle chiefs of the CHT after liberation.
The Awami League government increased the honorariums of the circle chiefs, headmen and Karbaries two to three-folds, she added.
The premier said her government has taken necessary steps for protecting the small ethnic groups, and they were given recognition in the 15th amendment to the constitution.
A CHT building would be constructed in the capital with the provision of dormitories for the senior CHT officials, she said.
Hasina also announced her plan for constructing three office buildings in the hill districts for the circle chiefs.
She laid importance on the registration of ownership of land of the ethnic people alongside honouring the traditional customary rules of different ethnic minority groups in the CHT.
The leaders of the hill districts submitted a memorandum to the prime minister containing their various demands.
They also expressed gratitude to Hasina for her government’s effort in resolving the problems of the CHT.
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, State Minister for CHT Affairs Dipankar Talukder, Jatindralal Tripura, MP, Raja Debashish Roy, K S Pru Chowdhury, among others, spoke on the occasion.