The ‘issue’ of the Chittagong Hill Tracts is as divisive as the region itself. At one end there are tales of woe: how the original inhabitants of the region are being evicted from their land through violence and trickery, their marginalization, and elimination of their traditional way of life simultaneously while it is being exoticized for tourism. These accounts, however, paint a static picture where the members of these ethnic groups are victims, always and without any agency. Consequently these accounts fail to hold up in front of close examination and invites counter-opinion rage: that the Bengali and other ethnicities of CHT are prevented from living in harmony by disruptive elements within the society, that the oppression and repression of the hill peoples are made-up stories that feed national and international conspiracies.
In ‘Conflict Mapping in the Chittagong Hill Tracts,’ researchers from the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Dhaka cut through this fog of confusion by presenting dispassionate, unornamented data. With the help of original data and systematic analysis, they show how the social life of CHT is marked by deep polarization, both within and across the ethnic divide, how it is beset by real and perceived accounts of discrimination and by lack of confidence on state agencies and the rule of law. They also investigate the trajectory of major cases of violence in the region in the past two decades and reveal that these have a common escalation pattern with various points marked by missed opportunities for prevention.
Based on a study that draws from a large survey of a cross section of people from 8 of the most crime-prone Upazilas of the region, semi-structured interview of selected elites and analysis of the dynamics of 14 incidents of large-scale violence between 1997 and 2014, this book aims at initiating a healthy, constructive conversation on the issue. It challenges long-held prejudices, common-sense beliefs and unsubstantiated propaganda. By offering the lens of social science, the book invites readers with well-meaning but vague opinions as well as consumers of zealous and spoon-fed ideas to form informed and nuanced opinion