Battle for Mong throne |
Jasim Majumder, Khagrachhari
Dispute over throne and conflict between traditional indigenous and government laws put the Kingdom of Mong in the hill district of Khagrachhari in disorder and chaos.
The Mong Circle on over 2700 square kilometer of land is an autonomous area ruled by indigenous people since the British colonial period.
Different tribes, including Chakma, Marma, Tripura, Rakhine and Mag, have been living in 1200 villages under 34 unions in the kingdom of Mong Circle.
The king rules his kingdom in 88 Mouzas with the help of 88 headmen (mouza heads) and 950 Karbaris (village chiefs).
But the trouble began when King Mong Prue Chaine died in 1991 and Paila Prue Chowdhury was sworn in as the acting king. Besides, appointment of Paila Prue by the government in 1998 as king of the 'autonomous estate' further deepened the problem over throne between Paila Prue and Unika Devi, daughter of late king Mong Prue Chaine.
As such, the Mong circle is now under a dual rule.
Unika decides everything, including local arbitration and possession of land with the support of 'subjects', though Paila Prue is in the throne.
Rajib Roy, husband of Unika Devi, claimed that neither Paila Prue Chowdhury nor anybody else can be the king of Mong circle as long as the daughter of late Mong Prue Chaine is alive and active.
Unika rules the circle as heir to the throne under a will written by her father Mong Prue, he said.
On the other hand, Paila Prue also claims himself as the legal king of the same circle.
“Being appointed by the government, as per law of the country, I am the legal king now,” he said.
"Unika and her husband Rajib are trying to control the circle by force," Paila Prue said.
Advocate Monjur Morshed Bhuiyan, a senior lawyer, said the matter now requires to be settled in the court and anyone having the court order in favour will be the next king.
After the death of King Mong Prue the government appointed 88 headmen to help collect revenue and mediate purchase and sale of land, sources said.
Now the headmen are left with a very little job as the local deputy commissioner's office has been entrusted with the responsibility of revenue collection recently and the fund crisis makes the king unable to maintain his men.
Shaktipoda Tripura, president of Headmen Association, said they get only Tk 400 per head as honorarium a month.
The Karbaris are the most sufferers as they do not get honorarium neither from the government nor the king for the important role they play in maintaining order in the Mong societies through conducting local arbitrations, they said.
The Chittagong Hill Tracts is divided into three circles --- Bomang, Chakma and Mong --- centring Bandarban, Rangamati and Khagrachhari.
A king traditionally rules each circle since the British regime.