Hill Student’s Council

Pahari Chattra Parishad (PCP) or Hill Students Council is a student organisaition of the Jumma students studying in various educational institutions in and outside of the Chittagong Hill Tracts. It was founded on 20 May 1989 in the backdrop of the gruesome Langudu Massacre in which more than 36 innocent Jumma people were killed in the most brutal fashion. To protest the incident, representatives of university based independent Jumma student bodies met in a meeting at Dhaka and resolved to form a unified student organistion to resist government repression in the CHT. The following day a silent procession was organised in Dhaka under the banner of the Greater Chittagong Hill Tracts Hill Students Council in protest against the Langudu Massacere. This marked the beginning of a new era in the history of the struggle of the Jumma people.

The PCP soon spread throughout the Chittagong Hill Tracts and became the symbol of democratic resistance to state repression in CHT. It not only organised the Jumma students, but also rallied, in the absence of an overground political platform, different sections of the Jumma people behind it. Defying military control and surveillance, the PCP held rallies and public meetings all over the CHT. The most powerful programme that was ever undertaken by PCP was the historic Logang Long March, which was organised on 28 April 1992 to protest the mass killing of Jumma people at a cluster village at Logang in Khagrachari district. Hundreds of thousands of people took part in the march that traversed 50 kilometers starting from Khagrachari town.

The journey of the PCP has never been easy. The government and the military left no stone unturned to stem the emerging tide of democratic movement led the PCP. On the one hand, the government policy makers on CHT floated communal Bengali settler organisations to counter the PCP, on the other hand, they began to crack down on its members and supporters. Many were detained without specific charges and trial. From 1991 to1993 the High Court heard and found roughly 130 cases of detention illegal. The court ordered their immediate release. But this could not stop repression of the members of the PCP.

When every attempt to suppress the PCP was failed, the military picked up anti-social and criminal elements among the Jumma youths and formed a terrorist organisation styled Pahari Chattra Parishad, Pahari Gano Parishad-er Santras Pratirodh Committee or PPSPC (Committee for resisting terrorism by Hill Students Council and Hill Peoples Council), popularly known as Mukhosh Bahini or masked force, as its members used to take part in military sponsored processions with their faces under cover. The Mukhosh Bahini lasted from September 1995 to December 1996 and in the face of popular resistance, the military finally had to decommission it. Later, the Jana Samhati Samiti happily inducted some of the Mukhosh Bahini members into its ranks to pit them against the United Peoples Democratic Front (UPDF).

The PCP denounces the CHT accord signed between the Government of Bangladesh and the Jana Samhati Samiti in December 1997 terming it as inadequate. In 1998 PCP co-sponsored a party preparatory conference held in Dhaka and helped found a new party – United People’s Democratic Front (UPDF) to carry on the struggle for the right to self determination. PCP is now campaigning for full autonomy under the leadership of this new party.