Manabendra Narayan Larma

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Manabendra Narayan Larma (September 15, 1939 – November 10, 1983), also known as M.N. Larma, was a Jumma Chakma politician and Member of Parliament of Bangladesh. A leading proponent of the rights of the people of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, he was the founding leader of the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (United People’s Party of the Chittagong Hill Tracts) and its armed wing, the Shanti Bahini.

Early life

Manabendra Narayan Larma was born on 15 September 1939 at Maorum (Mahapuram) village, which is now drowned under the Kaptai Lake of Kaptai Dam. He belonged to the Chakma tribe, which inhabits the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh and the neighbouring Indian states of Mizoram and Tripura.[4] He graduated in 1963 from the Government College in Chittagong, completed his Bachelor of Education degree in 1968 from the Comilla Teachers’ Training College and law degree in 1970 from the ChittagongLaw College. Larma began working as a lawyer in the Chittagong District of East Pakistan. He became active in politics as a student, helping to organise a Hill Tracts students conference in 1963 and working for the rights of proper compensation of the people of the Hill Tracts displaced by the Kaptai Hydroelectric Project and uprooted from their homestead and villages. He was arrested on February 10, 1963 under the East Pakistan Public Security Ordinance by police. He was released after two years of incarceration on March 8, 1965.

Political career

After his release, Larma worked to unite and politically organise the various ethnic groups and tribes of the Chittagong Hill Tracts. In the 1970 elections, he was elected to the East Pakistan Provincial Assembly as an independent candidate. After the creation of Bangladesh, Larma sought the recognition of the rights of the people of the Hill Tracts and regional autonomy. He was the lone representative of the Chittagong Hill Tracts in the inaugural national legislature. He opposed the drafted Constitution of Bangladesh, which made official the primacy of Bengali culture and did not recognise the non-Bengali ethnic groups and tribal communities living in Bangladesh.[1][4] Larma’s demands were rejected by the country’s founding leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who reportedly said that the tribal peoples should adopt Bengali culture and identity and threatened to forcibly settle Bengalis in the Hill Tracts and convert the local people into a minority in their own province. Larma continued to fight for the rights of the indigenous people and is quoted as saying:

Under no definition or logic can a Chakma be a Bengali or a Bengali be a Chakma. A Bengali living in Pakistan cannot become or be called a PunjabiPathan or Sindhi and any of them living in Bangladesh cannot be called a Bengali. As citizens of Bangladesh we are all Bangladeshis but we also have a separate ethnic identity, which unfortunately the Awami League (the then-ruling party) leaders do not want to understand.

Shanti Bahini

On February 15, 1972 Larma founded the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS), seeking to build an organisation representing all the Jumma Peoples of the Hill Tracts. Larma was elected to the Jatiya Sangsad, the national legislature of Bangladesh as candidate of the PCJSS in 1973. When Larma’s continued efforts to make the state recognise the rights of the Jumma peoples failed, Larma and the PCJSS began organising the Shanti Bahini (Peace Corps), an armed force operating in the Hill Tracts area, which began attacking state forces in 1977. Being the main leader of the PCJSS and the Shanti Bahini, Larma consequently went underground, into hiding from state security forces. However, factionalism within the PCJSS weakened Larma’s standing and he was assassinated on November 10, 1983.

More details of his life
  • 1. Name : Manabendra Narayan Larma
  • 2. Nick Name : Manju
  • 3. Father’s Name : Chitta Kishore Chakma
  • 4. Mother’s Name : Subhashini Dewan
  • 5. Spouse’s Name : Pankajini Chakma
  • 6. Date of Birth : 15 September 1939
  • 7. Place of Birth : Mahapuram village, Burighat Mouza, Naniarchar upazila, Rangamati Hill District, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh
  • 8. Married : 1971
  • 9. Children : 1) Mr. Joyes Larma, son (elder)
    2) Ms. Paramita Larma, daughter (younger)
  • 10. Brothers & Sisters: 1) Ms. Jyotiprava Larma (elder sister)
    2) Mr. Subhendu Prabas Larma (elder brother)
    3) Mr. Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma (younger brother)
  • 11. Educational Life : a) Primary education: Mahapuram Junior High School
    b) Matriculation: 1958, Rangamati Government High School
    c) Intermediate: 1960, Chittagong Government College
    d) Graduation: 1965, Chittagong Government College
    e) B.Ed: 1968
    f) LLB: 1969
  • 12. Working Life : a) Joined in Dighinala High School as Assistant Teacher in 1966
    b) Served as Head Teacher in Chittagong Railway Colony High School in 1968
    c) Joined in Chittagong Bar Association in 1969
  • 13. Political Life : • Started political life through attaining student politics in 1956;
    • Played role in organizing the first Jumma students conference held in 1957;
    • Joined in East Pakistan Student Union in 1958;
    • Participated in democratic and progressive movement in 1960;
    • Played leading role among the Jumma student society since 1960;
    • Organized protest against the Kaptai dam during early 1960s;
    • Played role as one of the main organizers of the conference of Jumma students held in 1962;
    • Underwent to detention for a protest against Kaptai dam on 10 February 1963;
    • Got conditional release from detention on 8 March 1965;
    • Formed CHT Election Organizing Committee in 1969;
    • Won in the election as Member of Provisional Assembly (MPA) in 1970;
    • Submitted 4-point charter of demand (regional autonomy with separate legislature for CHT) to the then Prime Minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on 15 February 1972;
    • Formed Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) in 1972 and was elected as its General Secretary;
    • Walked out session of the Gono Parishad (Constituent Assembly) protesting adoption of Article 6 of the Constitution of Bangladesh in where the Jumma people were identified as Bengali people on 31 October 1972;
    • Won in the national election as Member of Parliament (MP) on 7 March 1973;
    • Attended the Commonwealth Conference held in 1974 in London as a Parliamentary representative;
    • Took responsibility as the President of PCJSS in 1975;
    • Joined in the BAKSAL in 1974 with the assurance of solution of the CHT Problem by Sheikh Mujibur Rahaman and to continue democratic movement;
    • Went underground on 16 August 1975 as military rule was imposed;
    • Re-elected as President of PCJSS in its 2nd National Conference held in 1977;
    • Re-elected as President of PCJSS in its 3rd National Conference held in 1982.
  • 14. Assassination : In a renegade attack made by dissident group of PCJSS assassinated on 10 November 1983 at the source of Khedarachara stream under Panchari upazila in Kahgrachari Hill District of CHT.

Manabendra Narayan Larma

Flag of the Shanti Bahini

manabendra narayan larma MP

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