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  TRIBE 04

With the prevailing frontier situation in the British government put pressure on the Chakma chief to shift his capital to Rangamati and ultimately in 1874 it was shifted to Rangamati from Rajanagar. At that time cotton was heavily grown in Chittagong Hill Tracts and it was much important to the British for their mills. Hence effective control of Chittagong Hill Tracts was also important for them.

In 1881 the government decided to divide Chittagong Hill Tracts into three circles and the rulers were designated as chiefs. The circles are

  • Chakma Circle
  • Bohmong Circle
  • Mong Circle

Each circle was headed by a chief. Chakma circle was headed by a Chakma, Bohmong circle by a Bohmong and the Mong circle by a Mong. The Chakma circle was centrally located and inhabited mainly by the Chakmas, the Bohmong circle was under the subjection of the Bohmong chief of Arakanese extraction/origin and the Mong circle was also inhabited by the Arakanese speaking clans with a sprinkling of Tripura immigrants and headed by another ruler of Arakanese extraction. The reason of this division was that the British government was not in favour of the strong power of the Chakma Chief who held control over these hilly tribes. Further the government was feeling increasingly concerned about the political and administrative affairs of these tracts. Hence they aimed firstly to lay the foundation of administration in a restricted manner with the following basic objectives

  • To keep supervision on the rule of the Chakma chief and also to curtail some of his powers.
  • To protect the British subjects from the Kuki menace
  • To preserve peace in the frontier areas so that peace prevailed in Chittagong Hill Tracts and cotton could be grown and made available for their mills.

After the creation of a separate district and also three circles, the Kuki menace to Chittagong Hill Tracts and other adjoining areas did not stop. The Shendus, another ferocious tribe made occasional raids in the Hill Tracts between 1865 and 1888 and killed many people including massacre of Lt.Steward and his survey party. In 1872, 1890 military offensives were launched simultaneously into Lushai Hills from Chittagong and Burma in collaboration with the governments of Bengal, Assam and Burma and the whole of Kookie land was brought under British control.

On 1 April 1900, the South and the North Lushai Hills (then a part of Chittagong Hill Tracts) were merged to form a district of Assam province with headquarters at Aizawl. Lushai hills are now the present day Mizoram state of India. Due to revision of the boundaries, the Chakma chief had to forge some of his lands as also the subjects.

Later the British through the Deputy Commissioner took over absolute power in Chittagong Hill Tracts including the Chakma circle after implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts manual. Chittagong Hill Tracts was again declared as an Excluded Area under the British India act of 1935.

Modern time
Like in
India, the Chakmas have lived in the modern state of Bangladesh much before it gained its independence. However, recent migrations of ethnic Bengalis into traditionally Chakma regions of Bangladesh have raised tensions in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Successive governments have dealt forcefully with Chakma uprisings, and finally ended the conflict with The 1997 Peace Treaty. This forcefull dealing resulted in the migration of a large population of Chakmas into the states of Mizoram, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh of the present Indian Union. The Chakmas now have representations in the Mizoram General Assembly. The only seat of political power and identity is the "Chakmastan Autonomous District Counsil" in India, though it covers only 65% of the Chakmas living in Mizoram State in India.

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