President M Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday issued separate messages marking the 23rd anniversary of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Peace Accord, reports BSS.
On the completion of 23 years of the historic agreement, President Hamid called upon all irrespective of party affiliations to work together to harness the potentials of the hill districts.
The head of the state, in his message, said the CHT Peace Accord would be a shining example in the world in resolving disputes peacefully.
On the occasion of the signing of CHT Peace Accord, he extended his best wishes to all the residents of the hill districts.
Rangamati, Bandarban and Khagrachhari are the three hill districts of Bangladesh which are a source of natural beauty, he said, adding that the colorful lifestyle, language and culture of different people living in the hills for ages have made this region special and unique.
He further said that the historic agreement or the accord was signed on December 2 in 1997 between the government and the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti (PCJSS) with the sincere initiative of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for socio-economic development and peace in the hill districts.
Through this, the long-running conflict in the hill districts had ended and the path of peace was indicated, he said.
Hamid said Chittagong Hill Tracts is a region rich in natural resources and it has great potential for development.
Following the implementation of the peace agreement, the Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs and the Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council were formed, he said, adding that as a result of the peace agreement, socio-economic and cultural development including infrastructure in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region have been accelerated to a remarkable extent.
He hoped that the CHT Peace Accord would play a positive role in the development and progress of the hill areas.
In her message, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina greeted the countrymen, specially the people of the three hill districts, on the occasion of the completion of 23 years of the historic agreement.
The Prime Minister sought cooperation from all for full implementation of the CHT peace accord.
On December 2 in 1997, the historic CHT Peace Accord was signed without the mediation of any third party, with a view to stopping bloody conflicts in the CHT, the premier said.
This peace accord brought an end to the long-term bloody racial skirmishes in the CHT region and established the trend of peace and development there, she said.
Sheikh Hasina said achieving the UNESCO Peace Prize is a global recognition to this accord.
The Prime Minister said the post-1975 undemocratic governments (after the assassination of Bangabandhu) had created divisions between the Bangalee and the hill people for their self-interest instead of maintaining social stability there.
Killings, tortures and injustice, grabbing of lands and wealth and misuse of the state resources had made the region more unstable, she added.
In 2001, Sheikh Hasina said, the then BNP-Jamaat alliance government had opposed the historic peace agreement and wanted to destabilize the hilly region again. But their ill efforts went in vain, she added.
“We are pledge-bound to maintain peace across the country, including the CHT,” the Prime Minister said.
Sheikh Hasina said her government has been implementing massive development programmes in all sectors, including education, health, electricity, communications, infrastructure and mobile networks in the region.
Over 10, 890 families have been given power supply by setting up solar panel in the region, she said, adding that a beautiful complex is being built on two acres of land in the Dhaka’s Bailey Road at a cost of Taka 194 crore for the people of hill districts, she added.
The Prime Minister said CHT is no more a backward locality because of the timely steps taken by the government.