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Unrest in Kashmir: Why is India in no mood to resolve the explosive issue?

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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] I [/yt_dropcap]ndia suffers from an illogical superiority complex and situation has become very serious under the Hindutva nationalist BJP rule. India government, irrespective of which party or coalition rules the country, does not change its policy for Jammu Kashmir which it sees through its policy for Pakistan.

India possibly thinks if it ends criminal operations in Kashmir and let Kashmiris win freedom and sovereignty from New Delhi that would be misunderstood by the world as India’s weakness.

Having been robbed off their sovereignty, Kashmiris are placed in a precarious position under a powerful military of India and they do not have support of veto powers to make any difference to Indian military yoke in Kashmir and they do not have high precision weapons that Israel has in order to defend themselves from military attacks on them; India very cleverly exploits the weaknesses of Kashmiris. State government being elected by Kashmiris does not think they have a duty to protect the life and property of Kashmiris in Kashmir.

The Kashmiri parties like National Conference (NC) and PDP use the Hindutva parties like BJP and Congress to threaten the Muslims in Kashmir with action if they continue to demand freedom and sovereignty from Indi, the big power of South Asia. While they and their intelligence-media target Muslims in Kashmir aided by military, India and BJP in JK government do all possible things to make Hindus very happy.

Knowing the weak predicament of Kashmiris, Indian federal government is in no mood for talks with Kashmir “separatists” despite JK state chief minister Mehbooba Mufti pushing for discussion with all stakeholders, especially the freedom fighting groups or the so-called separatists. Even the British government eventfully had understood the need to talk to Indian freedom fighters, especially with Mahatma Gandhi to find credible ways to end the struggle. But India continues to evade that proper, legal route and hit the Muslims in Kashmir with terror goods, including imported Zionist arms.

Already over 100,000 Kashmir shave laid their valuable lives to see a soverign Jammu Kashmir.

Now New Delhi, armed with huge arsenals of nuclear and conventional terror goods, does not think the time is ripe go for a talk with Syed Geelani and other Hurriyet leaders who are spearheading the freedom struggle. As India keeps killing the Kashmiri Muslims, their leaders look to Pakistan for help mainly because they can’t approach the UNSC directly for safety and sovereignty.

India has money and arms in plenty and it keeps bribing foreign lobbyists and buying terror goods from big powers with an understating that they won’t interfere with Indian colonialist operation in Kashmir which according to New delhi is apart of modern democracy.

In order to divert the global attention on the state crimes in occupied Kashmir, Indian terror specialists say the Kashmiri freedom fighters are separatists, terrorists and they should be dealt with sternly and Indian government should be supported in its regular massacre operations in Kashmir, leading to creation of secret graveyards in the valley.

While the federal government in New Delhi is unwilling to find solutions to the problems being faced by Kashmiris, Jammu Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Delhi with a message that the government should restart talks with Hurriyat separatists for normalcy to return in the Valley. However, India appears to be in no mood for discussion with Hurriyat leaders whom Indian government calls the Pakistani agents, worse than Indian agents in Kashmir and Pakistan. Sources said the government is not in favour of talks with “pro-Pakistan lobby” in the Valley despite such demands from various quarters, including from foreign powers.

Heavily nuclearized India says entire Kashmir belongs to it and Pakistan should not dream of getting more Kashmir lands. India is ready for any number of terror wars with Pakistan.

India threatens the Kashmir freedom fighting groups to be silent about sovereignty and Indian government believes that talks with separatists even on its terms would yield no result as all such attempts have failed in the past. Pointing to the need to hold talks with all stakeholders, Mehbooba Mufti said that talks with the separatist Hurriyat (Conference) had taken place during the tenure of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. She said talks were the only way forward.

As situation in the Valley remains tense and incidents of stone pelting continues unabated, the government has decided to go ahead after the top aggressive leaders of Kashmir. Indian agencies have been directed to break the backbone of “terror infrastructure” in Jammu Kashmir.

In recent times Kashmiri agitations have embarrassed New Delhi who claims everything is calm and cool in Kashmir. The continued agitations of Kashmiris, authorities of JK government have also been asked by New Delhi to continue the crack down on social media inciting violence in the region. Nearly 300 WhatsApp groups were being used to mobilize stone-pelters in Kashmir to disrupt security forces’ operations at encounter sites. Most of these groups – at least 90 per cent of them – have been successfully shut down in the last three weeks.

PDP chief and Jammu Kashmir CM Mehbooba Mufti has reminded New Delhi once again of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee doctrine on Kashmir when she said only dialogue similar to the ones held during the former prime minister’s era more than a decade ago could save the Valley. “There was dialogue when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister and LK Advani his deputy. They even held dialogue with the Hurriyat and others,” Mufti told reporters after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his 7, Lok Kalyan Marg residence in New Delhi. Vajpayee ruled between 1998 and 2004. His approach towards addressing the Kashmir issue came to be called Vajpayee Doctrine. It also included improving relations with neighbouring Pakistan.

The Vajpayee doctrine on Kashmir called for peace, progress and prosperity in the Valley by imbibing the spirit of Insaniyat (Humanity), Jamhuriyat (Democracy) and Kashmiriyat (Identity of the people of Kashmir). The doctrine was universally acclaimed by all segments across of political spectrum in the state, including the extremist elements in the Valley. Vajpayee’s mantra included resolving all outstanding issues with Pakistan, including that of Jammu and Kashmir issue in a peaceful manner through bilateral dialogue without any third party intervention. He carried his message of peace to Pakistan during a bus journey to Lahore on February 19, 1999. Vajpayee made it a point to visit to Minar-e-Pakistan where he re-affirmed India’s commitment to the existence of Pakistan. He reached out to the people of Pakistan in a passionate speech at the governor’s house in Lahore telecast live both in Pakistan & India.

Vajpayee signed a Lahore Declaration with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on February 21, 1999 in the form of roadmap for peace. As part of the declaration, Pakistan agreed to resolve all bilateral issues between the two countries, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir in a peaceful manner and through dialogue and to promote people to people contact. The Delhi-Lahore Bus Service Sada-e-Sarhad (Call of the Frontier) was launched as a symbol of the efforts of the Vajpayee government to promote peaceful and friendly relations with Pakistan on the basis of reciprocity.

Seeking to let diplomacy win, Vajpayee did allow the bus service to be terminated even when Pakistan army chief President Parvez Musharraf launched an attack in Kargil between May and July, 1999, which the Indian armed forces successfully repulsed forcing the Pakistani army to vacate the occupied hills in the region.

However, the bus service had to be suspended during the heightened tension between the two neighbours in the aftermath of what New Delhi specialists say “the Pakistan-ISI sponsored terrorist attack” on the Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001. Later, it came out that the parliament attack was planned by Indian sources to terrorize Indian Muslims and to launch scathing rhetoric against Pakistan. But service was restored on July 16, 2003 when Pakistan assured the Indian government that Islamabad would not allow its territory to be used for terrorists’ activities. But later it allowed US led NATO terrorist militaries to use Pakistan to launch terror attack on neighboring Afghanistan and leading to attack Pakistani themselves.

Though it sought strategic partnership with USA refused USA and NATO its territories to be sued by them to attack Afghanistan.

Vajpayee on whom the BJP government bestowed nation’s highest civilian honor for his contribution to social work and politics, extended a hand of friendship on the basis of reciprocity and mutual trust and called for collective fight against poverty in the Indian subcontinent devoid of terrorism and drug-trafficking. His emotional speech made Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to say: “Vajpayee Saheb, ab to aap Pakistan mein bhi election jeet sakte haein (Vajpayee now you can win elections even in Pakistan).”

All the setbacks to his dialogue initiatives, including Kargil conflict, hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane to Kandhar and terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament, notwithstanding, Vajpayee did not allow the peace process to derail despite serious provocations by the Pakistan army and the ISI.

Perhaps, Mehbooba Mufti wants PM Modi to follow the Vajpayee doctrine to normalize the situation in the Kashmir Valley and lower the tension with Pakistan.

“We must start from where Vajpayee ji left… Modi ji has repeatedly said that he would follow the footsteps of Vajpayee ji, whose policy was of reconciliation, not confrontation,” Mufti said. “There is no option but to talk,” she asserted.

Mufti’s meeting with Modi came in the backdrop of the worsening security situation in the state that has also rattled the ruling PDP-BJP alliance in Jammu and Kashmir. The government headed by Mehbooba Mufti is under mounting attack in the face of fresh spurt in violence in the state.

The security situation in Jammu and Kashmir regions has been fragile in the last few months, and the worst Army-civilian relationship has been in the news for all reasons unsavory. Further, the rise in stone-pelting incidents to thwart counter-insurgency operations in the state has been a cause of worry for the security forces.

New Delhi systematically denying fundamental rights of Kashmiri youth global connectivity and refuses them to use mobile and internet so that world does not know what is happening in Kashmir. Nearly 300 WhatsApp groups were being used to mobilize stone-pelters in Kashmir to disrupt security forces’ operations at encounter sites.

Nearly 300 WhatsApp groups were being used to mobilize stone-pelters in Kashmir to disrupt security forces’ operations at encounter sites. However, most of these groups–at least 90 per cent of them–have been successfully shut down in the last three weeks. “We identified the groups and the group administrators, who were called in by police for counseling.

Indian atrocities include the following:

  1. Each of these 300 WhatsApp groups had around 250 members; the police official explained how determined attempts were being made to disrupt the operations of the occupation forces by mobilising stone-pelting mobs at the encounter sites.
  2. The government’s policy of suspending internet services appeared to be showing positive results in curbing stone-pelting during encounters and cited the case of the encounter in Budgam district on Saturday. Just a few youth gathered to hurl stones after two militants were gunned down in the encounter.
  3. This was in sharp contrast to an encounter in Durbugh village in the same area on March 28, when a large number of stone-pelters had assembled and three of them were killed in firing by security forces. “With no internet services, the mobilization of mobs has almost become impossible. Earlier, we would see youth from as far as 10 kilometres from the encounter sites joining the protesters to pelt stones at security forces to disrupt the anti-militancy operations,” the official said. “That did not happen on Saturday during or after the encounter in the absence of internet on mobiles”.
  4. Some of the youth listed personal issues like alleged harassment by security forces as reasons for taking to stone-pelting. “Most of them get carried away momentarily,” authorities are also looking at further sensitizing the personnel on the need to adopt a humane approach while dealing with the youth.
  5. Stone-pelting on security forces near the encounter sites has been causing major operational problems for the law enforcing agencies over the past one year. More than half a dozen youth have been killed in such incidents in the first quarter of this year. “With the internet facility withdrawn, the activity on these social networking groups and other sites like Facebook has come down drastically”.
  6. However, people especially those from the business community say they are facing hardships, because of the inability to stay connected online. “Today, the business depends on internet for communication. I am into stock markets and I have had no business since the mobile internet services were withdrawn last week,” Mudasir Bhat said. He said most of the people had done away with landlines and broadband internet services as mobile internet facility gave them more freedom and were also cheaper.
  7. Ishfaq Ahmad, a contractor by profession, said life, without internet, had come to a standstill. “I had to submit a tender document two days after the internet facility was withdrawn. As the document was to be submitted online, we had to request the concerned department to extend the date till we make arrangements for e-filing,” Ahmad said. He said he has applied for landline connection but the service provider, BSNL, has informed him that it will take time. “BSNL is the only landline services provider here in Kashmir. I hope the government takes steps to ensure that businesses do not suffer because of this internet ban,” he added.

The government in JK is defunct but the BJP, the ruling partner of PDP, said there were no differences between coalition partners in Jammu and Kashmir and the state government was “working well”. The PDP-BJP government is working well. Everyone is performing his or her task,” state BJP unit Chief Sat Sharma told reporters.

The PDP had earlier accused the BJP of betraying it in the council elections, in which an associate member of the PDP voted in favour of the BJP candidate on assurance of a post.

BJP pursues the RSS Hindutva agenda in Kashmir valley with help from Congress, PDP, NC, etc. BJP knows it is rather easy to fool the Kashmiri politicians with some money and NOC for foreign trips.

Observation

Jammu Kashmir is reeling under tension also because the PDP lost the seat to National Conference in the April 9 bypoll, in about 3 years after the 2014 General elections. The election to the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency was marred by violence and witnessed the lowest voter turnout. Mufti is, hence, expected to review working of PDP-BJP coalition government in the state and discuss with Modi the roadmap to restore peace in the Valley.

JK CM Mehbooba Mufti wants PM Modi to follow the Vajpayee doctrine to normalize the situation in the Kashmir Valley and lower the tension with Pakistan.

The deteriorating security situation in JK state and reports of strains in the PDP-BJP coalition indicate negative functioning of the BJP – PDP government. Mufti, who attended the Niti Aayog meeting in Delhi, discussed the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir with Modi and seeks a solution from the Centre to address the issues of the people of the Valley; especially after the increase in the incidents of stone-pelting. The rise in these incidents also led to a friction between the PDP and the BJP, which are running the coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir.

India wants to continue with its terror programs by using terror goods manufactured in India and abroad to terrorize Kashmiris who still think Pakistan would make them free from colonialist occupational crimes of India and help them make a home for themselves. However, going by the rhetoric and action of Pakistan, it is clear that Pakistanis fight for Kashmir to be added to Azad Kashmir which then be made an integral part of a destabilized Pakistan – and they are indeed not fighting with India for the sake of unfortunate Kashmiris.

Both India and Pakistan are fighting for Kashmir. Naturally, India is in no mood to resolve the explosive Kashmir issue as it has the upper hand. And world powers like UNSC and NATO have not putting any pressure on India to vacate Jammu Kashmir.

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South Asia

Growing insecurity in Rohingya Refugee Camps: A Threat to South Asian Security?

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A young Rohingya girl holds her brother outside a youth club in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. © UNHCR/Vincent Tremeau

5 years have passed since the Rohingya refugee influx in August, 2017.  Bangladesh is currently hosting 1.2 million Rohingya refugees in 34 camps in its southern district of Cox’s Bazar. The increasing rate of trans-border crime in those bordering camps is not only making the Rohingya refugees vulnerable and prone to crimes but also threatening South Asian security as a whole. The Rohingya community leader’s speech of “We don’t want to stay in the camps. It’s hell.” in the ‘Go Home’ campaign in 20th June, 2022, made us rethink about the security situation in the camps and how the safety and security of Rohingya refugees is linked to South Asian Security.

Security Situation inside the Rohingya Camps

More than 1,200,000 Rohingya refugees are now living in the camps in Ukhiya and Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar, making it the largest refugee settlement in the world. While Bangladesh has the ninth-highest population density in the world, around 40,000 to 70,000 refugees are living in per square kilometre in the Rohingya camps, which is 40 times higher than the average population density in Bangladesh. With no sign of repatriation combined with the lack of economic alternatives for Rohingyas and the difficulty in maintaining law and order in overcrowded camps, frustrated Rohingyas are increasingly becoming involved in criminal activities or being targeted by criminal groups.

Currently, around 14 armed criminal gangs are operating in the camps, in which seven gangs known as Hakim Bahini, Hasan Bahini, Sadeq Bahini, Nurul Alam Bahini, Nur Mohammad Bahini and Hamid Bahini are in Teknaf and seven gangs named Munna Bahini, Asad Bahini, Jamal Bahini, Manu Bahini, Rahim Bahini, Kamal Bahini, and Giyas Bahini are active in Ukhiya camps.

According to law enforcement agencies at least 10 groups among these are engaged in 12 types of crimes including murder, rape, kidnapping, drug smuggling and human trafficking. The fighting over controlling the camps among the armed gangs is also deteriorating the security situation inside the camps. A Rohingya refugee in the camps said in an interview, “Everything seems calm in daytime. After sunset, the situation becomes fully different.” As there is no police or army surveillance from 4 pm to 8 am, camps come under the control of gangs at night. They are equipped with weapons like lead meat choppers, knives and other made weapons.

According to Prothom Alo report citing the police, in the last two and half years, more than 50 Rohingyas have been killed in clashes between Rohingya armed gangs over establishing supremacy in the camp area, drugs and gold smuggling, money laundering and extortion.  Recently, the Armed Police Battalion (APBn) has recovered M16 assault rifles with 491 bullets from a camp in Ukhiya which indicates the worsening security situation in the camps. At night Rohingya women are also taken from their houses & are return in the morning. At least 59 women have been raped in the Rohingya camp. As crimes often go unpunished, no one in the camps has the courage to speak against the criminals. Sometimes, for ensuring own security, Rohingyas themselves, including children become engaged with smuggling, narcotics trafficking and other crimes.

As of May 2022,a total of 12,97 cases have been filed against 3,023 Rohingyas. Among them, 73 cases are in charge of murder, 762 are narcotics cases, 28 cases are filed on the allegation of human trafficking, 87 for illegal weapons, 65 are rape charges, 35 for kidnapping and ransom, 10 for robberies, and 89 are other cases related to crime and violence.

Besides, it is believed that Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a Rohingya insurgent group are also active in Rohingya camps and made contract with a Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). ARSA is not only relying on arms like AK-47s, M-22s, M-21s and M-16 rifles but also gaining support through other means. More than 500 madrassas in the Rohingya camps are  said to be controlled by an ARSA affiliates which will help ARSA to gain sympathy, spread propaganda and extend their network.

A Threat to South Asian Security

Since Cox’s Bazar provides a strategic route for smuggling and a shelter to Rohingyas refugees who have lack of economic alternatives, the bordering Rohingyas camps are turning into a breeding place for criminalities and the insecurity in the camps can threaten the security of the whole region.

Cox’s Bazar is used as a direct route from eastern India to Nepal for arms smugglers to reach Indian and Nepali buyer. United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), an insurgent group seeking independence from India, also buys arms from China and smuggles them using Bangladeshi ports and overland to India.

The Naaf river, the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar, is also the busiest drug route in the region. Almost 80% of Yaba enter in Bangladesh through Naikhyangchhari and 70% of them are stored in Rohingya camps before distributing them and Rohingyas are increasingly getting involved in peddling yaba for their survival.

Besides, drug trafficking, Rohingyas are also taking part in trans-border crimes, including human trafficking, extremism, arms fighting and the camps can be a potential base for extremist activities and the insecurity in the camps and border could transcend to Bangladesh anytime and create insecurity for the whole region of South Asia. As there is a growing concern over the recruitment of refugees by the extremist networks like Hizb-ut Tahrir and Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), as well as by radical Islamist groups like HeI. It is also reported that the influence of HeI is growing among the traumatized and frustrated Rohingyas which could fuel militancy not only in Bangladesh but also across the South Asian region. Along with this, the Rohingya militant groups bordering Myanmar i.e.  Arakan Rohingya National Organization (ARNO), Rohingya National Alliance (RNA), the Arakan Rohingya Islamic Front (ARIF), and Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO) could also recruit from Rohingyas and threaten regional security.

From security perspective, ensuring the security of Rohingyas is directly linked to the security of the region Though Bangladesh has taken several measures to ensure the security of these displaced people, it is tough to maintain law and order in the densely populated camps near the border. Therefore, safe, sustainable and dignified return of these displaced people is the only solution. Since Rohingya refugees have also expressed their desire to go home through the “Go Home” campaign, in which thousands of Rohingyas in Ukhiya & Teknaf camps staged demonstration on World Refugee Day demanding their repatriation back to Myanmar. Bangladesh as well as the international community should act together to facilitate Rohingya repatriation to ensure the security of Rohingyas as well as the South Asian region before its too late.

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Rohingya repatriation between Myanmar-Bangladesh

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Rohingya refugees fleeing conflict and persecution in Myanmar (file photo). IOM/Mohammed

Refugees find themselves in a situation of limbo because of the prolonged refugee scenario. They are neither eligible for repatriation nor do they qualify as citizens of the host nation or a third country. However, they must deal with the harsh reality of the nature of vicious politics because of the complexity of state systems and the institutional weaknesses of international institutions.

Prolonged refugees, according to UNHCR (2004), are trapped in an impenetrable and protracted condition of limbo. Despite not being in danger or facing threats, they significantly lack access to basic rights, financial aid, and support for their psychological and social needs. As they are pushed toward outside help, they feel unable to escape the core of forced dependence.

Are Rohingya refugees in some way contributing to an ongoing, serious refugee crisis? In relation to the Rohingya crisis, statistics from UNHCR shows that more than 0.7 million Rohingya fled to Bangladesh in 2017. There are 1.1 million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, the prime minister of Bangladesh stated in 2018 during the 73rd United Nations General Assembly.

For this South Asian emerging nation in 2017, the flow of this deluge was nothing new. These migrants have been entering Bangladesh since the 1970s after being forcibly uprooted by the military dictatorship.

According to a survey, there were around 0.25 million refugees in Bangladesh throughout the 1990s. Nearly 0.02 million people were returned after the 2000s, but the SPDC (State Peace and Development Council) and the Bangladeshi government’s inability to settle their differences has made this process difficult to complete.

The world’s most persecuted minority, who is clearly stateless and has strong proof of persecution and genocide on account of race, ethnicity, and religion, is currently being cared for by Bangladesh. The responses of international organizations like the UN and its branches like the ICJ and IOM are not positive enough for Bangladesh in this regard to produce a permanent solution.

West African nation Gambia filed a 35-page application with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in November 2019 against Myanmar. The ICJ’s extraordinary victory in the Gambia v. Myanmar case regarding the ethnic cleansing and genocide of Rohingya people is the first of its kind. This was founded on an “erga omnes” premise, which periodically reports on the situation of the Rohingya.

However, Bangladesh continues to push for international organizations to take humanitarian action through the UN. Though this worry might attract their attention and drive them to consider ensuring human rights for these forcibly displaced persons, it has instead placed a heavy load on Bangladesh.

Tom Andrews, the UN special rapporteur on Myanmar, issued a warning to the international bodies regarding the Rohingya crisis just a few days ago during his visit to Bangladesh in December 2021. Bangladesh “cannot and should not bear this duty alone,” he said, urging foreign groups to express grave concern. He went on to say that Myanmar, not Bangladesh, was the origin of the conflict and where it will ultimately be resolved.

Bangladesh, a developing nation with a population of 160 million, is being horribly impacted by the Rohingya people in terms of social, economic, and political spheres. Rohingyas have been in a condition of limbo since at least 2017, which is now more than five years ago.

They have been relocated, assisted, and given security by Bangladesh and several international organizations, but they still yearn for a long-lasting solution.

Bangladesh has been taking every action imaginable to bring the Rohingya refugees’ home. Since the 2017 refugee inflow, the Bangladeshi government has worked with various international groups to promote peaceful voluntary repatriation; however, the Myanmar military junta has consistently resisted these efforts. Refugees from the Rohingya minority are currently suffering greatly as a result of the political unrest in Myanmar.

As Cox’s Bazar’s refugee camps are already overflowing with 1.1 million Rohingya refugees, the Bangladesh is moving them to Bhasan Char in order to provide for them improved living conditions.

International organizations had doubts regarding the safety and security of the Island; however, Bangladesh eventually persuaded them to cooperate. Bangladesh was left with no choice but to relocate some Rohingya refugees to Bhasan Char. Bangladesh now faces a security danger from overcrowded camps. The Rohingya camps in Bangladesh are home to numerous terrorist and armed rebel organizations. One of them is the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). Despite the issues, Bangladesh has continued to push for bilateral discussions while also applying international pressure to the junta.

Myanmar, on the other hand, is a lawless state that disobeys international law and order. The arrangements established for the peaceful return of Rohingya refugees were broken.

In Myanmar, the regime has been increasingly hostile since the military takeover. Myanmar is utterly unwilling to help the Rohingya refugees develop a strong sense of desire for return. There is no “supranational” authority in anarchy, which is advantageous for Myanmar. It is now time for the international community to recognize that the Rohingya refugee crisis has grown into a regional security issue.

Myanmar-related news indicates a new genocide. the country’s rebel and protest groups are being repressed by the military junta with violence.

The Myanmar military is still buying new weapons from China and Russia, including the SU-30SME multi-role heavy fighter, the YAK-130 light attack advanced jet trainer, the K-8W advanced trainer, and Ming class attack submarine, among others, despite an arms embargo. The world community is concerned that these weapons could accidentally attack defenseless populations. A peaceful voluntary return will face further obstacles as a result of internal unrest in Myanmar.

The Rohingya catastrophe, which forced 1.1 million individuals to leave their country of birth due to state-sponsored persecution, was of a size that is easy to comprehend. When the state commits the crime, the environment becomes more hostile. The main duty of the state is to uphold the rights and interests of its citizens.

Refugees are currently skeptical of the military junta in Myanmar. They have a long and painful history of persecuting people. Therefore, persuading the refugees to return home voluntarily won’t be simple. Myanmar must extend their hands in mutually beneficial ways. More discussions between international parties, including the Rohingya, will build confidence and facilitate a peaceful voluntary return of the Rohingya refugees. Humanity and peace should ultimately triumph over all other factors.

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Why the implementation of the CHT peace agreement is still elusive?

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When the “Top boxer” of Bangladesh, for the past eight years, Sura Krishna Chakma raised the national flag of Bangladesh in the first-ever professional boxing tournament held in last month, it reminds the contribution of the UK Ching Marma and other minority people who fought valiantly in the Liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971.

Bangladesh began its independence journey with a population that is ethnically homogeneous, with less than 1% of the population being ethnically diverse. However, Bangladesh had struggled to deal with Chittagong Hill Tracts’ (CHT) tribal people as they have been waging an insurgency movement for autonomy. Later, Peace Accord was signed aiming to end the conflict in 1997. But, after 25 years of its signature, the treaty is still failing to instil trust among national political parties and factional groups. Currently, the situation in the CHT area is a complex mix of conflicts and negotiations. The area is also beset by ethnic tensions between indigenous communities and groups, interferences from neighbouring states, widespread poverty, resource scarcity, and low literacy rates.

Why peace in the CHT is still elusive?

In recent years, remote areas of CHT have become more prone to violence due to the involvement of various active groups in the area. The four ethnic political groups – PCJSS, Jana Samhati Samiti (Reformist-MN Larma), United People’s Democratic Front (UPDF) and UPDF (Ganatantrik) – in the region appear to be at odds with one another. They have no ideological disagreements but are involved in inter-conflict for narrow self-interest rather than protecting the minority rights. All factions have specific armed wings with advanced weapons such as rocket launchers, automatic sniper rifles, and heavy machine guns, according to law enforcement. They extort wood trade, cooking markets, livestock markets, transportation, and a variety of other services, each on their own turf. Ransom for the abduction of ethnic groups and Bangalis are also a major source of income. Contractors also have to pay at the rate of 10 percent of the original budget. To stay safe, locals were forced to maintain good relationships with all parties. They are compelled to pay monthly tributes to remain in their homes. There are even reports of indigenous women being abducted and raped by rival groups. They are so vulnerable and frightened that they do not even move after the sunset. The inter-group conflicts have claimed more than 1100 lives since the signing of the peace accord. Although according to the terms of the accord, the guerrillas were to surrender and surrender their weapons but many haven’t surrendered arms yet.

What’s to blame for the present unrest?

The agreement’s lethargic implementation has reignited separatist tendencies among the Paharis. Recently, the Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF), an insurgent organization of small ethnic group, demanded a separate state in CHT with full autonomy and threatened strict armed movement. Prior to this, The UPDF, a breakaway group, continues to oppose the treaty and seeks full regional autonomy.

The most pressing concern in CHT, however, is extensive Christianization among the tribal population. ‘Evangelization’ is generally carried out by the missionaries through a number of NGOs operating under the umbrella of “development partner.” Christian missionaries use money and other worldly trappings to entice poor tribal people to become Christians. So far, 4344 families in CHT became Christian in the last two decades and the number of churches increased dramatically from 274 in 1998 to 644 in 2022. It’s worth noting that more than a third of the Bandarban district’s tribal population is now Christian.

Impact of the Peace Accord on the Situation of ethnic People

Certainly, the Peace Accord made room and rendered opportunities for the CHT’s development. In these 25 years, comprehensive and systematic development efforts have contributed to the socio-economic development of the Pahari people, which immensely contributed in reducing the gap between the Pahari and Bengalis. Many tribes are well-integrated into mainstream middle-class Bangladeshi society, with officers and ambassadors serving in Bangladesh’s military and diplomatic corps.

With its contrasting topography of hilly terrains, immense lakes, wide-open spaces, as well as rich ethnic and cultural diversity, tourism industry flourished in the CHT. Tourism boosted due to the infrastructural projects connecting the remote and mystic parts with the main areas of the country and security ensured by the law enforcement agencies from the precarious hilly terrain to the remote bordering area. The treaty also integrated the CHT people into the mainstream economy, while permitting them to retain their specific ethnic and cultural identities.

The ‘Small Ethnic Groups Cultural Organisation Act 2010’ was passed in order to safeguard and foster the cultural expressions of Bangladesh’s small ethnic groups. Small ethnic groups’ rights are now more recognized by the government in Bangladesh than before. The development allocation per capita in the CHT districts is significantly higher than in the rest other districts. The government has amended some laws to allow for the implementation of the peace accord mainly the formation of the ‘CHT Regional Council’ and the ‘Ministry of CHT Affairs’, establishing the ‘Land commission’ to deal with conflicts over land and natural resource rights. The government is also gradually reducing military camps. The number decreased from 546 to 206. Another feature of post-agreement development in the hills has been the influx of development partners and the extension of NGOs and INGOs in the CHT area.

Way Forward

The first and foremost, the Bangladesh Government must take into cognizance the factors behind the failure of establishing peace in CHT areas to ensure peace in the hilly region. Secondly, the implementation of the remaining articles should also need to be prioritized. So far, out of 78 provisions, 48 provisions of the Accord have been implemented. Hill people strongly believe that the implementation of the Accord is the key to solving problems in the CHT. Thirdly, it is crucial to control the armed factions to evict violence and restore peace to CHT on an urgent basis. Fourthly, both the Hill and the Bengali people emphasize that land disputes need to be resolved immediately. And finally, there is a need for consolidating the progress achieved so far.

Nevertheless, an established misconception is prevailing among the hilly people that their voices are not heard and they are treated differently from the rest of the Bengalis. To eradicate this misconception and build trust and harmony, more initiatives should be undertaken by the government.

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Reports2 hours ago

What COVID-19 taught us about risk in a complex, inter-connected world

A new UN report has shed fresh light on the ways that the COVID-19 pandemic unleashed cascading risks, particularly on...

Environment7 hours ago

The Caribbean is ‘ground zero’ for the global climate emergency

The UN Secretary-General’s final day in Suriname began on a small plane and ended at a podium. A 90-minute flyover...

World News9 hours ago

In Afghanistan, women take their lives out of desperation

The situation for women is so desperate in Afghanistan that they are committing suicide at a rate of one or...

Finance9 hours ago

Potanin’s core business unfazed by personal sanctions

The news agencies’ report that Vladimir Potanin the president of MMC Norilsk Nickel PJSC was first mentioned in the UK...

South Asia11 hours ago

Growing insecurity in Rohingya Refugee Camps: A Threat to South Asian Security?

5 years have passed since the Rohingya refugee influx in August, 2017.  Bangladesh is currently hosting 1.2 million Rohingya refugees...

Economy14 hours ago

The Rise of the Sovereign Wealth Funds And How They Are Affecting Global Politics

A revolution is taking place in world finance, and it appears that the world is sound asleep.  Investment entities owned...

Eastern Europe16 hours ago

Lessons of Ukraine and the Death of Leadership: Only History Exists

Having considered a plethora of articles pontificating on Moscow’s military action in Ukraine, whether journalistic, academic, ideological, purely propagandistic and/or...

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