Sunday, February 27, 2011

Chakma is the name of the largest tribe found in the hilly area of eastern Bangladesh known as the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Their name was first used by British census-takers to describe certain hill people.
When the British were driven from India in 1947, the land was divided into two countries, Pakistan and India. The people who lived in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region expected to become part of India. Instead, the region was given to Pakistan. This caused resentment because the people, mostly Chakma, are primarily Buddhist. They saw themselves more culturally similar to the Hindu peoples of India than the Muslims of Pakistan.

Pakistan's two regions were known as East Pakistan (where the Chakma lived) and West Pakistan. In 1971, East Pakistan fought successfully to win independence from West Pakistan. East Pakistan then became the nation of Bangladesh. The Chakma felt just as alienated from the Bangladesh government as they had from Pakistan. In 1973, the Shanti Bahini (Peace Force) began to stage violent attacks against the government to try to win independence for the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Guerrillas attacked government forces and the Bangladeshi Army responded with attacks on civilian tribal peoples. As of the late 1990s, this conflict continued.

'Khyangtha' and 'Thangtha' are the two groups with in Chakmas. They are classified on basis of the place where they live. Khyangthas live on the banks of river while Thangthas, also called Jhumias, live on hill tops. 


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