Report On Integrated Development Initiative with the Hilly People at Khagrachari Project

The Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) situates in the southeastern part of Bangladesh and borders India and Myanmar, covers a physical area of 5093 sq. miles and c onstitutes almost 10 percent of the total land area of Bangladesh. The region is mired by a longstanding conflict which has caused massive losses in terms of human sufferings and the economic cost. An agreement, commonly known as ‘Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord’ was signed on the 2nd of December 1997 between the government of Bangladesh and the Parbattya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti (PCJSS) with a view to ending this long-standing problem. But, the much talked accord has not fully been able to transform its stated goal into reality.

The absence of mutual trust and confidence and the presence of past grievances between the contending groups i.e. Bengali and the indigenous community, are largely considered as the major setbacks in the peace process. For this reason, Anando focused on initiating a process of reconciliation by bringing the people of different communities under a single platform with a view to driving out historical grievances and hatred against each other. Reconciliatory role inviting the youth and old representatives from the fractious groups of Bengali and the indigenous people in a common place through training, seminars or gathering in common festivals in particular days of the year were the most frequent types of activities carried out by the implementing agency. The implementing organization provided training on a number of cross-cutting issues affecting the community harmony and stability such as; conflict management, peace initiation and family peace restoration, intercommunity harmony, peaceful community management, legal awareness building etc. In addition to these, it also regularly observed various international days, organized community gatherings, arranged sports competition which also brought the key actors of the conflict under a single shed.

The prevailing differences between the Bengali settlers and the indigenous people over the years are undermining the hope of achieving a sustainable peace. However, the activities of the project are gradually contributing to reduce that hiatus which is likely to expedite the reconciliation process. 

The activities of the project have contributed to educate the participants on many issues which are inseparably linked to the community peace and stability. It also contributed to develop a harmonious relationship within and between the communities due to the participation of people irrespective of their race, religion, culture and ethnicity. A process of nonviolent transformation is gradually shaping place in the project area as the activities of the project facilitated to develop a cooperative attitude among the community people through common participation, taking meals together and the exchange of views with each other. As a result, the process of community reconciliation that Anando endeavoured has started to see the light of hope amid all sorts of uncertainty.

To expedite the reconciliation process further, the existing programmes need to be sustained in future. In addition to these, focus needs to be given on undertaking fresh activities i.e. establishing community peace club, launching moral education programme at the school and college level, incorporating environment related activities etc. to place the society in its rightful position and add renewed momentum in the process of community reconciliation.