Narratives of Nation, War, and Peace in South Asia: An Interview with Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma from the Chittagong Hill Tracts
Inhabited by a number of indigenous groups, the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), Bangladesh, is one of the most militarized regions in South Asia and the site of colonial and post-colonial wars, state-making, and displacement as well as development, indigenous movement and “alternative” development. The most recent war in the CHT, waged between the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) and the Bangladesh security forces, was a low intensity war that endured for more than two decades, ending in 1997 with the CHT Treaty. This paper presents selected narratives of ethnic conflict, war and peacemaking in the CHT, as articulated by Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, the president of the PCJSS and the key architect of the insurgency war in CHT and the peace-making process. These narratives unfolded during an extensive interview conducted in the Bengali language in three parts that occurred between June 2008 and May 2009 in Dhaka and Rangamati. The paper, prompted by the occasion of twentieth anniversary of the CHT Treaty, has several aims. Specifically it seeks not only to problematize dominant narratives of religious nationalism in South Asia but also to give voices and space to indigenous peoples and their imaginaries of nations, alternative development and politics for achieving dignity and recognition.