Even after two decades of the Peace Accord, killing procession not stopped 

Alamgir Manik
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Rangamati: Today is Thursday, the 24th anniversary of the Chattogram Hill Tracts Peace Agreement. Apart from rehabilitating the terrorists and providing them with various facilities in the hope of peace, the two eras of closing down the army camps are coming to an end today. But peace is still elusive in the green-shaded Chattogram Hill Tracts.

Jana Sanghati Samity (Santu) leader Abishkar Chakma was shot dead by rival terrorists in Rangamati Sadar Upazila on Tuesday (November 30), just before the anniversary of the agreement. According to all sources, he is a top cadre of Jana Sanghati Samity (JSS). Not only this, but throughout the year such killings have been taking place in the conflict of domination somewhere in the hills.

Meanwhile, with the UP elections looming, the threat of JSS has prompted other political parties to resign.

The agreement was signed on December 2, 1997 between the then Awami League government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the Parbatya Chattagram Hill Tracts Jana Sanghati Samiti (PCJSS). The main objective of the agreement was to bring an end to the bloody conflict in the three hill districts through the surrender of the guerrilla forces, the Shanti Bahini (SB), which had been in the mountains for more than two and a half decades. Although the name of Chattogram Hill Tracts Agreement was mentioned in the paper, observers from home and abroad named this agreement as a peace agreement. As a result of the agreement, the Prime Minister received accolades at home and abroad and also received various awards and titles.

However, the four-party alliance, including the BNP-Jamaat at the time, dubbed the agreement a "black pact" as that the Bengali-speaking people in the hills become second-class citizens, including on the condition of something unconstitutional. They also wanted to arrest Santu Larma as the murderer of 30,000 Bengalis and demanded the amendment of the agreement and bring him under trial. However, despite the fact that the agitators came to power within four years of the agreement, they did not cancel or amend the agreement. It is assumed that their 'opposition to the agreement' was part of the traditional politics.

After 24 years of the agreement, the question still arises, has peace really returned to the mountains? In answer to this question, one has to say without hesitation that with the advent of peace, the field of murder and extortion has expanded. At that time there was only one regional organization called Jana Sanghati Samiti; Whose self-armed branch was the SB. And after the agreement, six more armed organizations including UPDF and Gundus Bahini were born from this organization. The conflict over their dominance is constantly poisoning the mountain environment. Meanwhile, due to the withdrawal of army camps from the hills due to the agreement, the hills have become a sanctuary for terrorists day by day.

In the last four years alone, at least 124 people have been killed in the struggle for supremacy in Rangamati. Compared to the last three years, the number of murders has decreased this year. Among the dead were 92 leaders and activists of four regional parties in the hilly areas. Of these, 39 are from UPDF, 38 from JSS (Larma), 13 from JSS and 2 from UPDF Democrats. Among others, there are 20 civilians, one army member, one BNP leader, 10 Awami League members and one Mugh Party member.

Among the three hill districts, most of the violence took place in Rangamati and Khagrachari. 105 people were killed in these two districts. And 19 people were killed in Bandarban. In 2018, 32 people were killed in Rangamati. 41 people were killed in 19, 11 people were killed in 2020, and this year the number of murders in the conflict between the hills is 5. The list of murders includes the imam of a mosque in Bandarban. Blood holi game is going on in the green hills in this exercise of armament centered on extortion. Armed activity is increasing day by day; The list of murders is getting longer and longer.

Meanwhile, Santu Larma was complaining every day about the implementation of the peace agreement and their further benefits are not being ensured. However, the Bengalis living in the area are saying that the government is creating opportunities for them to buy illegal weapons. On the other hand, the government said that 80 percent of the agreement has been implemented. Thus, various conspiracies of foreign missions are going on in the mountains on the basis of counter-allegations.

It may be mentioned that according to the information published through various media, 2,563 people have been killed in the three hill districts apart from social crimes since the signing of the peace agreement. At least 2,626 people have been abducted. Among the dead, the hill-Bengalis belong to both communities but the number of Bengalis is higher. The Bengalis were killed due to communal hatred and extortion and most of them were killed by the hill tribes. The slain hill people have died because of their own armed activities and their own infighting for power.

According to the agreement, the list of armed members of the SB was provided within 45 days and from February 10, 1998 to March 5, 1998, 1948 members of the armed SB surrendered to the government in four phases. They deposited more than 200,000 rounds of ammunition, including 875 weapons. Although the military wing of the Jana Sanghati Samiti was completely disbanded with the surrender of the last party on March 5, 1998, the number of self-employed cadres and the availability of weapons have tripled; Such information belongs to various intelligence agencies.

In October 2020, a number of government ministers, including Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, held a series of meetings with military and civilian administration and political and social leaders of the three hill districts on how to establish law and order in the troubled Chattogram Hill Tracts.

Government tries to find a solution. Even there, everyone agreed that a special battalion of the RAB should be deployed to increase peace in the mountains. Although the government's decision to establish a battalion of the RAB was finalized in November, the matter came to a halt due to unknown reasons.

Of the 15 lakh people in the three hill districts, 48 percent are Bengalis. The remaining 52 percent are residents of various ethnic minorities. Despite the peace agreement aimed at establishing hill Bengali harmony, Jana Sanghati leaders have been demanding the total removal of Bengalis from the three hill districts. Santu Larma himself made such a claim from time to time. The government set up a land commission in 2001 to resolve land disputes in the hilly areas. But the Land Survey Commission has not been able to function in the face of obstacles from the hill groups. The government has also amended the Land Commission Act in response to objections from tribal leaders, but its activities are still not being implemented.

The Bengali organizations in the highlands feel that the Bengalis living in the region have not seen any improvement in the years of the Hill Tracts Agreement. At a press conference on Tuesday, the leaders of the Chattogram Hill Tracts Citizens' Committee demanded full evaluation of the agreement.

Rangamati MP Dipankar Talukder feels that the implementation of the peace agreement is being hampered by the anarchic situation created by the killing and abduction of innocent people in the hills. He said, "We are very saddened to see that the opposition to the peace agreement is colluding with the BNP, a force in favor of the agreement."

In the opinion of the common people of the hills, if there is no army in the hills, the tribal terrorists will cut the Bengalis to pieces. If all the troops are removed, insecurity will be created in the hill districts.

According to various government sources, 48 of the 72 articles of the peace agreement have been implemented and the rest are in the process of implementation. The only condition on the part of the government was that the armed hill terrorist groups surrender their weapons. But due to the political umbrella of the hill leaders, it was not possible even in the 24 years of the peace agreement. That is why people from different walks of life in the mountains have emphasized on finding a solution through law and order as well as political dialogue by increasing the army camps to establish peace in the mountains.

Journalism educators’ networking conference begins at ULAB

News Desk, Barta24.com
Journalism educators’ networking conference begins at ULAB

Journalism educators’ networking conference begins at ULAB

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Journalism has changed. So, journalism education must adapt the change to remain relevant.

Speakers told this at a two-day long conference on media and journalism education in the country that has begun at the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB) in the capital today. 

The Department of Media Studies and Journalism at ULAB organized the conference titled “Communication and Journalism Educators Network (CJEN) Bangladesh Fifth Networking Conference 2022”, where communication and journalism educators from different universities in the country took part. 

ULAB Vice Chancellor Professor Imran Rahman inaugurated the event. In his inaugural speech, he said the authorities of the university has high commitment for promoting media in the country. So, the Media Studies and Journalism Department always try to prepare its graduates by updating its courses and curriculum in consultation with stakeholders from the media industry on regular basis.

Addressing the session, MSJ Department Head Professor Jude William Genilo said the media and journalism education institutions must think critically about their roles, and know their strengths and weaknesses today.

“We at the ULAB try to prepare our graduates who are equipped with knowledge and skills needed in their real-life professional works,” he added.

In plenary session titled “what is wrong with journalism education in Bangladesh”, Professor Jude called for building a strong network among media and journalism educators in the country to share experiences, expertise, and to enhance research and scholarships on the field.

In the session, ULAB MSJ Assistant Professor Dr Abdul Kabil Khan presented findings of a research on “What I wish My Faculty Would Do and Would Not Do for my career development?”

In another plenary session, a roundtable discussion titled “The future of media industry- new approaches and business models” was held.

Bangla daily Somoyer Alo Executive Editor Harun Ur Rashid, Jamul TV Special Correspondent Mohsin Ul Hakim, online news portal Bangladesh Times’ lead mobile journalist took part in the discussion moderated by MSJ department senior lecture Nandita Tabassum Khan.

Deutsche Welle (DW) Media Services GmbH Program Manager Dr. Esther Dorn-Fellermann, and DW Akademie Program Director in Bangladesh Priya Esselborn also attended the event.

At the first day of the conference, three research papers were presented, and two roundtable discussion was held followed by a cultural event.


Grooming Purpose-Led Leaders for A Better Tomorrow

News Desk, Barta24.com
Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

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In conversation with Saad Jashim, Head of Human Resources, BAT Bangladesh

Saad Jashim, Head of Human Resources at BAT Bangladesh speaks on managing one of the biggest workforces in Bangladesh and how they are adapting to the 21st century demand of future-fit young leaders to create the best talent pipeline of the country.

BAT Bangladesh has been acclaimed for its diverse & inclusive work culture. Given that diversity is currently one of the most talked-about topics, could you share with us how BAT Bangladesh created such an exemplary working environment?

It’s great to hear that Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) is such a widely discussed topic at the moment. For us at BAT Bangladesh, D&I is more than just a current buzz word, it has been at the core of what we do, for over a decade now. Our culture of nurturing our employees in an environment where we respect and celebrate each other’s differences lies in the belief that our diverse talent are our biggest asset and our best brand. And a testament to our consistent effort in this arena is accreditations like the Top Employer Award or the Global Equality Standard (GES) Certification we proudly received in 2021.  Diversity to us isn’t limited to just gender diversity, but also includes diversity of thought. From grooming female STEM talent via Supernova, mentoring platforms like Inspirit and bringing in cross-industry professional recruits, we leave no stone unturned to ensure that our workforce is composed of diverse pool of perspectives and connected to diversity is inclusion. Our policies and opportunities are consciously designed to be inclusive and fair. In fact, we are proud to say that even international learning exposure is not just limited to BAT managers, but high-performing factory employees also get the opportunity to travel different countries to take part in trainings. We firmly believe that workplace culture is a product of the whole organization meaning that the onus lies with everyone to act in an inclusive manner. Year on year, keeping our core consistent, we ensure that this inclusive ecosystem evolves to help our employees feel empowered & inspired to keep growing. 

One of the most lucrative programs for young grads of Bangladesh is BAT’s Global Graduate program, can you elaborate how it has been designed to promote fat-paced growth?

At BAT Bangladesh, we are evolving at a pace that’s unlike any other organization. The Global Graduate (GG) Program is our flagship 18-months management trainee role for high potential fresh graduates and young professionals to get a fast-tracked career. The aim of the program is to raise future leaders of BAT by grooming them in a stretched & exciting environment from day one. The program is carefully designed, with functional & cross-functional roles, to prepare and instill our purpose-led Ethos in our young leaders from day 1. GGs also get the opportunity to take part in BAT Grad Academy to build a network with other GGs from different parts of the BAT world. The concept is to develop a well-rounded & inclusive business leader who is prepared to take on strategic deliverables on broad streams of our business.

Beyond fast-paced growth, how do you think BAT’s Global Graduate program is designed to groom young leaders to be future-fit and socially conscious?

The core purpose of this interesting program is to shape leaders of tomorrow to become competent & inclusive business leaders. At the core of our dynamic business ecosystem is our farmer community in Kushtia and via our recent collaboration with Prerona Foundation, we rolled out three community development projects there. To foster a sense of inclusion, we are sending our GGs for a 15-days immersive Fellowship experience with these farmer communities.

This initiative named, Be the Change Fellowship Program is a way for our GGs to take a step closer to their North Star. Our GGs participate in the community development projects by living with and like the families of our farmer beneficiary community to gain first-hand experience of a reality that is different from their own. By exposing them to the grassroots of our business, we hope to help them grow as empathetic leaders.

This Fellowship seems like an interesting new initiative, could you elaborate what the GGs are doing daily during this 15-days immersive program?

I believe that the youth now are more conscious and look for purpose in everything they do. They are the shapers of tomorrow and being purpose-led is what sets this generation apart. The Be  the Change Fellowship was created to anchor our GGs and help them find their North Star, perhaps delving into the daily acts will help to clarify.

On a day-to-day basis, the two -weeks immersive experience allows them to work with marginalized communities under the three community development projects - Education, Empowerment and Youth Leadership. Under each project, there are courses taught to beneficiaries and their families by experts of the field. For example, under the education pillar there is the Adult Literacy center where aged farmers, who never got the opportunity to avail formal education, learn basics like writing and mathematics. Living with these farmers, learning their stories, and even teaching them helps groom these young leaders into future-fit leaders of tomorrow.

As we know, Bangladesh is progressing towards its Vision 2041 and BAT Bangladesh plans to run major initiatives on youth employment and inclusion. What is your view on the need to invest on future-fit youth leaders?

As a fast-developing economy, Bangladesh needs to increase the pace at which we develop talent. The country needs high-quality talent to meet its increasing demand in a very competitive global economy and this is a challenge that needs strategic partnership across government, academia, and employers to ensure that together we develop the human capital of the country. BAT Bangladesh, as a proud development partner to the Government of Bangladesh, has already launched several key projects to address the needs of Bangladeshi youth. As an organization, we take pride in spearheading such initiatives and we will accelerate our efforts in the coming years to create next generation leaders.


'Asani' moves northwestwards, likely to weaken: Met office

News Desk, Barta24.com
photo: collected

photo: collected

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The severe cyclonic storm "Asani" over west central Bay and adjoining area moved northwestwards and weakened into a Cyclonic Storm over West Central Bay off Andhra coast area, said a Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD) bulletin valid for 24 hours commencing 9am today.

"It is likely to move in a northwest or northerly direction and weaken gradually into a Deep Depression during the next 24 hours. Maritime ports of Bangladesh have been advised to keep hoisted Distant Warning Signal No. Two," said the bulletin.

"Light to moderate rain or thunder showers with temporary gusty or squally wind is likely to occur at a few places over Rangpur, Rajshahi, Dhaka, Mymensingh, Khulna, Barishal, Chattogram and Sylhet divisions with moderately heavy falls at places," it added.

However, the day and night temperature may rise slightly over the country.

Country's maximum temperature on Tuesday was recorded 35.0 degrees Celsius at Syedpur in Rangpur division and minimum temperature today was 23.0 degrees Celsius at Badalgacchi in Rajshahi division.

The highest rainfall in the last 24 hours till 6am today was recorded 119 mm in Sylhet.

The sun sets at 6.32 pm today and rises at 5.17 am tomorrow in the capital.


PM urges parents to encourage their children to play outside

Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com, Dhaka  
PM urges parents to encourage their children to play outside

PM urges parents to encourage their children to play outside

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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today asked all concerned particularly the parents to encourage their  children to play outside, which would help boost children's physical and mental health alongside stoping their any kind of derailment.

"Most of our children are passing most of their times in flats engaging with mobile phones, laptops and ipads, which is an ominous  sign of their physical and mental health," she said.

The Premier called upon the patents to take initiatives for taking their children outside home to play or run which is a must for their mental and physical wellbeing.

 "I request all the guardians to be attentive regarding their children's engagement in sports. Sports, running and jumping help boost all sorts of flourishment in terms of physical and mental health. And for that they will not be derailed, she said.

She said these while virtually distributing the "National Sports Award" to 85 sports persons and organisers from 2013-2021  in recognition to their gloriousdians  contribution to the country's sports  arena as the  chief guest from her official  Ganabhaban residence here.

The Ministry of Youth and Sports organised the programme at the Osmani Memorial Auditorium.

The premier asked the authorities concerned to provide the award every year for encouraging players as well as organisers and for the overall progress of the sports.

On behalf of the Prime Minister, State Minister for for Youth and Sports Md Zahid Ahsan Russel,MP, handed over the awards among the reciepants .

Chairman of the ministry's parliamentary standing committee Abdulla Al Islam Jacob was present while its Secretary Mesbah Uddin gave the address of welcome.

Earlier, the Ministry of Youth and Sports has nominated 85 sports persons and organisers for this  prestigious National Sports Award in recognitaion of thier contribution to the country's sports during 2013 to 2020.

Each awardee will receive an 18-carat of gold medal weighing 25 grams, a cheque of Taka one lakh and a certificate.

Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's second son Shaheed Lt. Sheikh Jamal was given the award (posthumous) as player and organiser for the year 2020.

Sheikh Hasina said that all should realise that sports, physical and cultural practices are essential for building a nation.

"So, we have to encourage all especially the children to play outside home," she said.


Sports, physical excercise and cultural activities help the children becoming worthy citizen of the country.

In this context, the Prime Minister said that her government is constructing Sheikh Russel Mini Stadium at each upazila across the country.

She expressed her dismay over having inadequate playgrounds in Dhaka, saying, "We have already taken measures to this end. It is necessary to have playgrounds in every area."

The Premier said they are constructing a complex having stadium and training centre beside the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban for the specially needed children as they have achieved many success for Bangladesh.

She said Bangladesh had recently won the title of the Bangabandhu Four Nation Physically Challenged Cricket Tournament defeating India, organized on the occasion of the birth centanary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, at Sheikh Kamal International Cricket Stadium, Cox's Bazar.

"I have witnessed the match," she said with a proud voice.

The Premier asked all concerned to give special attention to the specially needed children.

She also asked all to pay special attention to women as they have been doing well in every sector of sports including cricket and football.

The PM, in her speech, also referred to Bangladesh's U19 Women's Team's victory in  the 2021 Saff U19 Women's Championship after defeating India 1-0.

Sheikh Hasina has recalled the successes of  Bangladesh in sports including the recent first ever test cricket match win against  South Africa at their own field and the win against Pakistan taking part for the first time in the World Cup Cricket in 1999 and the ICC Trophy win and becoming test playing member country in 2000.

"Bangladesh's success in sports arena from 2009 to 2021 (till the date) has been increasing  due to the Awami League government's timely and visionary measures," she said.

Since assuming power after the 21 years in 1996, she said her government has been taking everything possible measure for the overall development of the sports.

The Prime Minister said they are set to construct stadium at each district  to facilitate sports persons with every facility including training as they can cope with the international competitions and achieve more success for Bangladesh.

She said her government has been constructing Sheikh Kamal Sports Complex having a stadium in Cox's Bazar and a stadium in Sylhet which will add natural beauty of sea and hills respectively.

She also stressed the need for revival of the local or rural sports sports such as "sat chara" "dangguti" and "hadudu" alongside football, cricket, hockey and volleyball which require less money.

The Premier asked all concerned to arrange the local game competition in inter-school, inter-college and inter-university levels.

Sheikh Hasina described herself a member of sports family as her grandfather, father, brothers and sisters-in-law were players of various games.

"All of our families were involved in sports.--- there had alway been a relations between sports and our family," she said.

The Premier recalled her family's involvement in formation of the Abahoni Krira Chakra describing Sheikh Kamal as the pioneer of the modern football.

Sheikh Hasina recalled that when she along with her younger sister Sheikh Rehana was leaving Dhaka for Germany, prior to the August 15, 1975 bloody massacre  in which the Father  of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman along with most of his family members were killed, Sheikh Kamal wanted from her (Sheikh Hasina) to bring Adidus company boots for the Abahoni players.

But, the boots were not brought  in as the 1975 carnage was happened and they had to spend six years in forced exile, she said with emotion charged voice.

The Prime Minister said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had taken measures for the development of sports when he was rebuilding the war ravaged nation and its every institutions as Bangabandhu knew sports is necessary in building a nation.

Bangbandhu had established the National Sports, Bnagladesh Footblall Federation and many other institutions for the development of sports, she added.

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