British Reign in the CHT (1860-1947)

Rapes &
Jumma Refugees
CHT Treaty
Foreign Aid

Following the Soldiers Mutiny in 1857, the British Government took over the direct administration of their Indian colonies from the East India Company. In 1860, by Act XXII, the Chakma kingdom of Chadigang (or Chittagong) was divided into two districts named Chittagong and Chittagong Hill Tracts. Chittagong was included into Bengal Province of India which soon became completely populated with the Bangladeshi (people of modern day Bangladesh) people and the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) was directly administered by British Government as.

With the British annexation of the CHT, the activities of the Bangladeshi money lenders/merchants increased considerably. At the begining the British encouraged the Bangladeshi migration to the CHT to pacify the Jummas. Before, fear of the Jumma people had kept many Bangladeshis away from the CHT, but with British protection they sought to establish their dominance over the CHT economy. Indebtness among the Jumma people rose so rapidly that British officials soon became worried about possible political tensions as a result of this situation. In order to protect the Jumma people from the exploitation the Chittagong Hill Tracts Regulation of 1900 was promulgated which came into effect on 1 May 1900 (Act 1 of 1900). The 1900 Act often known as the CHT Manual. The CHT Manual laid down detailed rules and regulations for the administration of the CHT.

  1. Section 18: the rules and regulations applicable in other parts of Bengal were not applicable in the context of the CHT.
  2. Article 7 of Chapater 3: the CHT placed under the administration of a Deputy Commissioner (DC). The DC was empowered with special powers by the British Governor of Bengal.
  3. Rule 34: possession of land by outsiders in the CHT was restricted, but did not impose total ban upon it. Land could be acquired for the following purposes:

    1. Rule 34(b) for plantation on commercial basis;
    2. Rule 34(c) industrial purpose;
    3. Rule 34(d) residential purpose;
    4. Rule 34(e) commercial purpose.

  4. Rule 52: non indigenous people could not enter or reside in the CHT without obtaining permission from the DC.

  5. Rule 51: the DC can expel anyone from the CHT deemed undesirable.

  6. Rule 7(1): the Manual also introduced measures to protect the Jumma people from the money lenders. A ceiling was inposed on the interest rates which was 10 per cent per annum on unsecured and eight per cent per annum on secured loan.

The CHT Manual to a certain extent protected the Jumma people from the Bangladeshi exploitations.

The special status of the Chittagong Hill Tracts was further underlined with the Government of India Act of 1935, in which this district was designated a "Totally Excluded Area". This meant a formal severinq of political links be- tween the CHT and the Province of Bengal. Here the chiefs and the Jumma people of the CHT found their interests to run 'parallel' to those of the British. All three groups wished to create distance between the CHT and the Bangladeshi plain. The chiefs hoped to gradually establish themselves as local princes and to transform the Chittagong Hill Tracts into a semi-independent Native State, the Jumma people hoped to restrict Bengali interference and settlement once and for all; and the British hoped to impede the spread of nationalist propaganda from Bengal to the CHT.


  1. The Charge of Genocide: Organizing Committee CHT Campaign, The Netherlands, 1986
  2. The Politics of Nationalism: by Amena Mohsin