Bor-Porong | Duburider Atmokothon | Autobiography of the Drowned
Samari Chakma (in Sidney) and Naeem Mohaiemen (in Dhaka) read simultaneously, over the internet, from Samari’s book Kaptai Badh: Bor-Porong.
This is an oral history of Chakma people exiled by drowning in the Kaptai Hydroelectric Dam project of 1960-64 (Pakistan period). Each paragraph in Chakma language is followed by its translation into Bangla. This gesture of reciprocal translation comes in a pandemic time where conversations are isolated and digital, whether with a neighbour in Dhaka or an exiled comrade in Sidney. Placing Chakma in the dominant role is a rebuke to the role of Bangladesh in extinguishing indigenous Pahari languages in Chittagong Hill Tracts. These are the languages of the Adivasi peoples (collectively
Pahari or Jumma) – Chakma, Marma, Tripura, Tanchangya, Santal, Chak, Pankho, Mro, Bom, Lushei, Khyang, Gurkha, Ahomi, Rakhin and Khumi.
The drowning of Pahari villages in 1960s East Pakistan was followed by exclusion from the constitution of independent Bangladesh – which defined all citizens as “Bengalis.” From 1975 until the signing of the 1997 CHT Accord, the Pahari people fought for regional autonomy. Parts of the Accord remain unimplemented, and the Chittagong Hill Tracts is hostile land for its original indigenous peoples. While we rightfully advocate for Rohingya refugees pushed into Bangladesh, we forget the refugees we have created, many fleeing into India, from the 1960s until the 1990s.
Advocate Samari Chakma was the first Chakma female lawyer enrolled to plead cases at the Bangladesh Supreme Court. Like many of her people, the harassment she faced eventually forced her into exile in Australia.
Published by the Comrade Rupak Chakma Memorial Trust, Kaptai Badh: Bor-Porong (2018) comes out of years of conversations with networks of Pahari rights activists. These solidarities are expressed in Thotkata.com and the anthology Between Ashes and Hope: Chittagong Hill Tracts in the Blind Spot of Bangladesh Nationalism (2010).
Recording Director: Hasib Zakaria (Sidney)
Book Editor: Aloran Khisa (Khagrachari)
Book Cover: Jayatu Chakma (Rangamati)
Chakma Font: Shuvashis Chakma Ittukgula (Khagrachari)
Timeline Research: Priyanka Chowdhury (Dhaka)
Agartala– GautamLal Chakma
Melbourne– Ehshanul Kabir
Khagrachari–Tushar Shuvro Chakma
Dighinala– Tufan Chakma, Injeb Chakma
Sidney– Rupayan Chakma, Pavel Chakma
Dhaka–Tanzim Wahab, Sarker Protick, Samsul Alam Helal