Shaktiman Chakma, the chairman of Rangamati’s Naniarchar upazila and vice president of Chakma Jana Sanghati Samity (MN Larma), was shot dead by miscreants on 3 May.
Five others, including Tapan Jyoti Chakma, convener of United People's Democratic Front (UPDF), were shot dead while going to attend Shaktiman's funeral the next day.
Yet another UPDF member was killed on 22 May in Dighinala of Khagrachhari. The killing spree was followed by another three being shot dead in Baghaichhari upazila of the district. UPDF claimed the last three were also its members.
The death toll in the killings and counter killings rose to 21 in the Hill Tracts since December.
Jana Sanghati Samity accused UPDF of killing its men before. Now UPDF alleges that the Jana Sanghati (MN Larma) is killing their men.
Both of the hill organisations have long been accusing each other of these killings. And both have all along been denying the accusations.
It is unfortunate that these killings go unprosecuted despite a large numbers RAB, police and army members deployed in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Cases are filed, but are met with no progress. It seems that the laws of the land do not apply to the Hill Tracts.
The December 1997 Chittagong Hill Tracts accord stirred hope for a permanent solution. However, different organisations of the hill people differed on the issues of the accord. UPDF took an opposing stand. All this resulted in an outbreak of violence in the area that led to several hundred deaths till 2015.
Violence stopped due to an agreement among the three main organisations of the area that year. But, it resumed on December 2017 as UPDF was divided and a new organisation was founded.
This situation cannot be allowed to continue. Law must be implemented in the Hill Tracts. The full implementation of the peace accord can help.
The principle reason for the current conflict in the hills is not ideological one, but a conflict to establish supremacy. Extortion is one of the major factors.
Illegal businesses and crimes must be addressed. Law enforcement in the region must be sincere, skilled, and effective. Harmony and good governance among the conflicting tribes is essential.
The bloodshed in the Hill Tracts cannot be allowed to continue.