CHT opposed Pakistan
|Excerpt from Sneha Kumar Chakma's
memorandum to CHADIGANG CONFERERNCE - Amsterdam 10 - 11
When World War II virtually ended in favour of the allies, the British government decided to abdicate sovereignty of India with a pledge to give the Muslims a home land - Pakistan. Lord Wavell sat in conference at Simla to accord an Interim Government - July, 1945.
Finding independence and partition of India inevitable, the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peoples Association (Parbattya Chattagram Jana Samity - PCJS) of which I was General Secretary, sent me to the Wavell conference to meet the Congress high command and other leaders with a memorandum. I held long discussions with Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad on CHT.
A memorandum containing political demands of CHT was again sent out on 15 Feb. 1947. (Annexure-2).
Myself (Sneha Kumar Chakma) was co-opted in the All India Excluded Areas Sub-Committee of the Constituent Assembly of India for CHT (vide No.CA/38/Com/47) dated 20.3.1947 and I sat in committee at Rangamati on 3rd April, 1947 (Annexure-3).
When crucial and decisive moments were fast approaching and the PCJS demanded bold and vigorous actions to meet all contingencies, our president, Kamini Mohan Dewan showed physical as well as mental depression and therefore the organisation contracted in May 1947, into an Action Committee with Pratual Chandra Dewan as chairman and Ghanasyam Dewan as field commander.
Bengal Boundary Commission was announced by the Governor General on 30th June, 1947 with erroneous and ambiguous terms of reference (Annexure-14 para 2 & 3). I, as General Secretary, PCJS, and representative in the Indian Constituent Assembly, was sent to do the needful.
I was terribly apprehensive of the Commission's trespassing into CHT on the following grounds :
So I ran to Delhi and reported my despair to Pandit Nehru who reiterated his old conviction, and to Sardar Ballavbhai Patel who swore to write strongly to the Chairman Sir Radcliffe.
In the meantime, the Indian Independence Act of 18 July, 1947 (Annexure-15) came to my hand and also the rumours that Sir Cyrill Radcliffe had squashed the seven-page arguments of Justice Bijan Mukherjee and Justice Charu Biswas (non-Muslim members of the Bengal Boundary Commission) and that the honourable chairman of the commission had crumpled Sardar Patel's letter on CHT and threw it down to the bin in gigantic wrath.
I hastened to Sardar Patel one dark morning and swore - "I am flying back to CHT to declare it INDIA AND RESIST if it happens otherwise! Will you stand behind me, Sir?"
"Certainly, I will be with you, behind CHT! Go back, hurry back"! Sardar Patel was truly a Sardar! (Annexure-5).
I arrived back to Rangamati and on 4th August, 1947 alerted Shri A.V. Thakkar, chairman of my sub-committee regarding CHT. (Annexure-6)
At 00.00 hours between 14th and 15th August, 1947, the Action Committee with a gathering of 10000 people led me to the Deputy Commissioner's bungalow. Col. G.L. Hyde, the D.C., came out and received us.
"Sir, is not India independent now"?
"Yes, you are independent now and on".
"Is not, Sir, CHT a part of India under the Independence Act of India"?
"Yes, according to the Independence Act of India 1947 Chittagong Hill Tracts is a territory of Indian dominion".
"So, should we not hoist our national flag"?
"Yes, but we the British people generally hoist flags at sunrise. Please come at dawn and hoist the Indian national flag publicly in the football ground, and I will go and salute it. Thereafter I shall flourish the Indian flag in my office and residence where I invite you all. Please come here to attend my flag hoisting ceremony."
Our veteran leader, Kamini Mohan Dewan, declining all our requests to do the job, the Action Committee forced me to hoist our national flag at sunrise on 15th August 1947. We followed the D.C. in procession and attended the government flag hoisting ceremony. Messages were sent out everywhere.
Little did I know that while I was hoisting Indian flags in Rangamati, CHT, Pandit Nehru was sending a crucial (but belated?) note of B.N. Raw to Sardar Patel, on CHT. (Annexure-7)
In the evening on 17th August 1947 the Radcliffe Award dated 12th August 1947, was heard over the radio implying CHT within East Bengal Boundary. Early next morning the Action Committee summoned an emergency meeting to be held on 19th August 1947 in the Deputy Commissioner's residence. Chakma Raja and all dignitaries were invited. Chakma Raja attended, Kamini Mohan Dewan attended and many others. Everybody subscribed to the resolutions -
After dispatching the news to relevant quarters, at 3 p.m. on 19th August, 1947, I left Rangamati to cross the borders of CHT, on foot track, towards Ramgarh-Sobroom (CHT-Tripura) with Indramoni Chakma (colleague) and an armed bodyguard of seven captained by Girish Dewan. I crossed to Sabroom on 20th August, 1947 and was at Agartala on 21st August, 1947.
I went to Shillong and reached Calcutta on 25th August, 1947 and touched Sardar Patel by wire (Annexure-8).
Within a few days I was talking to Sardar Patel. "We are resisting. I am sent to you for arms & ammunition".
"Only arms & ammunition"?
"Yes. Only arms & ammunition. People of CHT are ready to fight out their own field. They can adopt to all weapons necessary at present."
"I am quite ready to supply arms & ammunition. But you know I am a deputy? Have I not a 'Prime'?"
"Do you not push me to Pandit Nehru"?
"Yes. You must meet him first".
"Then am I to see you again"?
"Come and report".
It took me about 50 days to engage myself to the Prime Minister in his office. "I am fighting Pakistan to bring back CHT to India. Will you kindly supply me only arms & ammunition"?
Pandit Nehru, the great Prime Minister of India, jumped up from the Prime Ministerial Chair and thundered - "Do you propose to bring India again under foreign rule"?
I dared not embarrass the Sardar with a 'report' and returned to my Calcutta camp to tap private resources. On 24th January, 1948 - I sent a cable to the U.N.O. (copy not available), I sent a telegram to-
On 29th January, 1948, I confirmed the cable and the telegram in (1) & (2) above (Annexure-10b) and sent a memorandum to the United Nation's' Organisation (Annexure-11).
Probably during the last week of August and first week of September, 1947, the two non-Muslim members of the Bengal Boundary Commission (Justice Bijan Mukherjee and Justice Charu Biswas) sojourned New Delhi with Indian leaders trying revision of Radcliffe Award in respect of CHT. But they must have heard as I did from Nehruji, My lawyer in the commission, Shri Apurbadhan Mukhopadhyaya, also visited Delhi with the same mission but Ghandhiji plucked out the word "CHT" from his lips. (Annexure-10C)
With Sardar Patel and many others, the people of CHT thought the Government of India had locus stand to rectify the injustice upon CHT. And I brought the same again to the notice of India.
In order to facilitate a juridical study of the documents that pushed CHT to problem, I beg to enclose copy of the following:-
The Muslim homeland of Pakistan naturally held CHT as a Muslim homeland with an alien pro-Indian population. By steadily infiltrating Muslims of the plains and evicting indigenous people, i.e. through the Kaptai Hydro Project, colonization steadily grew as a matter of administrative device.
The Sovereign H.Q.s were oceans apart from CHT and neighbourly hatred was not too sharp. It was a slow poison, a long term policy. Even General Ayub had occasion to declare CHT a 'Tribal Area'.