In the late 70s when the Bengali hordes set feet on the hill, they saw themselves as the conquistadors, conquering both the land and the people who lived there for the newly formed nation. In many respects, they didn’t even discriminate between land and home. Everything was obtainable.

The Constitution of Bangladesh commands in Article 23A, “the State shall take steps to protect and develop the unique local culture and tradition of the tribes, minor races, ethnic sects and communities”.

Looking into the constitution wasn’t really a helpful option. So, instead, the land was simply proclaimed terra nullius.

Although everyone was aware that the land was not empty. Everyone was aware of its inhabitants and their unique way of life. But safeguarding it wasn’t a necessary awareness to any. Land for the majority Bengali settlers, profitable Rubber and Tea plantations was the only facet – and without the dominion of the majority the existing landscape could, they seemingly believed, only be a wilderness.

The remarkable, Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord has done much, at least in papers, to educate the Bangladeshi society about how wrong they were with the first article of the accord recognising CHT as Tribal Populated Region and the necessity for protection of the character of this region.

However, In practice, not much has changed. The wave of settlers may have stopped but the rubber plantations are still there at large.

The Natun-Parra village of Lama Upazila, Bandarban district serves as the latest example where a consortium of rubber companies was recently at the front line attempting to replicate the old battle between (Bengali) people and nature.

It’s the same old script: In one side stood majority Bengalis, rubber plantations and administration; on the other lay wilderness and an insignificant cluster of 20 Mru families who were previously displaced from the Dhekichara-Parra village of the same district as a consequence of another episode of Man vs Wild.

In a petition, the law-abiding Mru community urged the District Commissioner for the safety of their lives and livelihood as the village has been attacked by armed men on July 30 and 31. According to the petition rubber plantations – Meridian Agro Industries Limited and Lama Rubber Industries Limited – were behind this despicable act of atrocity.

In any functional democracy, where basic human rights such as rights to life and liberty were more than just lip service, such a heinous attack on a helpless tribal group by corporations would generate both media and political uproar and solidarity followed by drastic action.

Given the ruling class of the country these days often aggressively propagate an ambiguous picture that under their watch Bangladesh has transformed into an ideal and just democratic heaven, it’s also reasonable for us to expect no less.

But in reality, when it comes to CHT, this picture is so blurry that even this severe incident seemed like a mere dot in a monumental Guernica of sufferings and escaped the mainstream media radar let alone political solidarity.

Luckily, because of a desperate push for justice by a network of bloggers through social media, the officers of the local army camp came to aid, and the rubber plantations were told to stay away from the Mru village for now.

Army personnel deserve appreciation for this timely action. But this is not a permanent solution. Incidents like this keep happening to tribal people across the country and we need to put an immediate end to it.

Otherwise the picture of the “Kingdom of Heaven” the politicians are propagating will never come clear.

The human rights hero of modern India, Justice Rajinder Sachar in his groundbreaking Sachar report pointed it precisely, “In any country, the faith and confidence of the minorities in the functioning of the State in an impartial manner is an acid test of its being a just State.”

Sure, we can’t give back the life the tribal people once had. But we have learned enough from the past mistakes that makes it possible to understand and minimize – and thus resolve – the sufferings of humans who are our own. We can surely prevent the rubber plantations from spreading.

When human cost is so high, we do not have to accept the anarchy of the rubber plantations who have already caused such severe damage in such brief of a time.

Sure, we can’t give back the life the tribal people once had. But we have learned enough from the past mistakes that makes it possible to understand and minimize – and thus resolve – the sufferings of humans who are our own. We can surely prevent the rubber plantations from spreading.

When human cost is so high, we do not have to accept the anarchy of the rubber plantations who have already caused such severe damage in such brief of a time.