Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF), the new armed group of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of Bangladesh agreed to a ceasefire in a virtual meeting on Wednesday with the members of the peace committee formed by Bandarban Hill District Council (BHDC).
The meeting started at 11:00am and continued for two and a half hours, said Kanchanjoy Tanchangya, spokesperson of the peace committee.
“12 members of the peace committee joined in the meeting with the KNF representatives from the conference room of BHDC. KNF spokesperson Laljong Mui Bawm alias Brigadier General Muiwa, and four other KNF representatives joined the meeting through mobile phone from separate locations”.
“KNF and we agreed to continue peace talks in future”, he said.
“We proposed to the KNF members to sit for dialogue face-to-face and assured of their security during the dialogue” he added.
“In the meeting, KNF members Laljong Mui Bawm and Lalsang Lom Bawm wanted to know the Bangladesh government’s stance on their demands while they also agreed to maintain a peaceful environment saying both sides will have to maintain a peaceful atmosphere”, Kanchanjoy said.
The peace committee members told that the KNF was informed before the meeting that all their demands must be followed with the constitution of the country.
The peace committee led by BHDC’s Chairman Kyaw Shwe Hla Marma was formed on May 29 this year to ensure a peaceful environment in the remote areas of Ruma, Rowangchhari and Thanchi upazillas of Bandarban and to bring back the KNF members to normal life, said Kanchanjoy.
The committee has been trying to hold talks with the KNF since the beginning and its first meeting was held on Wednesday. However, date of next talks is yet to be fixed.
KNF started armed activities in Baghaichhari, Barkal, Jurachhari, Bilaichhari upazillas of Rangamati hill district and Rowangchhari, Ruma, Thanchi, Lama and Alikadam upazilas of Rangamati hill district of Bangladesh in mid-2022.
Nathan Bawm of the Bawm indigenous community from Bandarban’s Ruma upazilla led the group.
KNF claims in their Facebook post to represent six ethnic groups—Bawm, Pankua, Lusai, Khiang, Mro and Khumi of CHT in their group.
On October last year the country’s elite Rapid Action Battalion said the “separatist” group, Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF), was providing training and shelter to the members of the militant outfit Jama’atul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya.
Founder of the Sharqiya, Shamim Mahfuz, developed a good relationship with KNF chief Nathan Bawm in late 2020. At the beginning of last year, they struck a three-year agreement, said the Rab director on October in a press briefing.
Shamim Mahfuz, along with his wife was arrested in 23 June from Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh.
As per the deal, the KNF was providing shelter, training and other support to the militants. In return, the militant outfit was giving the KNF Tk 3 lakh per month and the expenditure for food, the RAB official told earlier.
The security force said it had launched an assault on KNF and militants in three remote hill towns near the Indian border and arrested dozens of people.
The crackdown forced hundreds of indigenous villagers to flee across the border and take refuge in the northeast Indian state of Mizoram.
Clashes between the KNF and the Bangladesh military killed at least five army persons said the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) in their press releases earlier.
However, The KNF rejected any involvement with Jama’atul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya in a Facebook post last year.