Bangladesh’s tribal chief dies in road accident

October 23rd, 2008 - 12:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Oct 23 (IANS) Head of the Mong tribe, Raja Paihala Prue Chowdhury, was killed when a bus carrying him plunged into a roadside ditch at Patachhara near Ramgarh in Khagrachhari district in Chittagong Hill Tracts. The 55-year old Raja, heading one of the three tribal circles, the other two being Chakma and Bohmong, died early Wednesday while returning from a 12-day tour of Australia.

Along with a woman passenger, he died on the spot.

The Raja’s son Saching Prue Chowdhury, along with 23 other passengers on the bus, was injured in the accident.

The cremation ceremony of the Mong Raja will be held Monday.

Crown prince Saching Prue will be the new Mong Raja, The Daily Star said Thursday.

The Mong Raja is survived by his wife Madhavi Lata Chowdhury, son Saching Prue, and daughters Uma Ching Chowdhury, 26, and Unu Ching Chowdhury, 23.

Bangladesh President Iajuddin Ahmed and Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed expressed deep shock at the death of Paihala Prue Chowdhury.

The Mong Raja’s body was brought to his house where people from all walks of life gathered to pay homage in the afternoon.

He became the chief in 1991 after his uncle died, but was recognised as the Raja after a protracted court battle with a relation in 1998.

Mongs are among the tribes that inhabit Bangladesh and northeastern India. Their region was annexed by the British into a district, called the Chittagong Hill Tracts, that was awarded to Pakistan at the time of the partition in 1947, although a bulk of the population was non-Muslim. The British regarded it as the hinterland of Chittagong city and the water resource for its port.

Under the British-enacted Chittagong Hill Tracts Regulation of 1900, the government of Bangladesh recognises three hereditary traditional rulers in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, the Mong Raja in Manikchari, the Chakma Raja in Rangamati and the Bohmong Raja in Bandarban.

The rajas, also known as circle chiefs, exercise limited judicial authority, have responsibility for collection of land taxes in their respective territories and also exercise certain ceremonial roles. The Chakma Raja is always a member of the Chakma Tribe.

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