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Wednesday, December 2, 1998 Published at 14:39 GMT

World: South Asia

Chittagong marks peace anniversary

50,000 people have returned since the deal was signed

The people of the Chittagong Hill tracts in Bangladesh are marking the first anniversary of the peace deal that ended a bloody tribal uprising which lasted more than two decades.

More than 8,000 people died in the conflict in which the Shanti Bahini rebels fought against the Bangladeshi government for autonomy for the tracts which border India and Burma.

The peace deal has led to the return of about 50,000 people who fled the violence.

Rebels disappointed

However, some of the former rebels say they are disappointed that the land they expected to live on has been taken by local Bengali people.

[ image: The hill people want treaty obligations to be fulfilled]
The hill people want treaty obligations to be fulfilled
The Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity (PCJSS), the political wing of the Shanti Bahini, is also unhappy at the pace of implementation of parts of the accord.

It has demanded the immediate release of all former rebels from jail and the withdrawal of cases against them.

Former rebel chief Jotirindra Bodhipriya Larma in recent comments has expressed unhappiness at the delays and blamed an "evil quarter within the government."

But he says his forces will not resume their revolt,

Minister urges co-operation

The Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs Minister, Kalparanjan Chakma, said "a good number" of clauses in the deal had already been implemented and the government was sincere in its commitment.

[ image: The hill tracts are ethnically and linguistically diverse]
The hill tracts are ethnically and linguistically diverse
"I urge the PCJSS to co-operate with the government," he said. "People here are now living in peace and harmony with development of the region going on in full swing."

The minister said much of the accord had already been implemented, including the closure of many military camps, the release of some jailed tribal rebels and the induction of hundreds of former insurgents into the local police force.

The BBC correspondent in Dhaka, David Chazan, says the peace deal appears to be secure despite the rebel demand for more land.

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