The Raja who gave away his kingdom

Published: September 18, 2012
Raja Tridiv Roy, minister-for-life, former government adviser, envoy and chief of the Chakma Tribals, died in Islamabad on Monday. PHOTO: FILE

Raja Tridiv Roy, minister-for-life, former government adviser, envoy and chief of the Chakma Tribals, died in Islamabad on Monday. PHOTO: FILE


Raja Tridiv Roy, minister-for-life, former government adviser, envoy and chief of the Chakma Tribals, died in Islamabad on Monday. He was 79. The late Raja Roy will be remembered as the man who gave away his kingdom so that he could be with Pakistan during one of the country’s most turbulent periods.

Born in Rajbari, Rangamati, Chittagong Hill Tracts in 1933, he was installed as the hereditary Chakma Raja in 1953. This is a position that he later abdicated, giving control to his son.

A Buddhist by faith, Raja Tridiv Roy, left East Pakistan and came and joined the government of then president of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in the seventies. This despite the fact that he won the elections in 1971 as an independent candidate from his constituency.

Roy’s other distinction was that at one point he was also offered the position of president of Pakistan by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who himself had assumed the prime ministership of the country.

The reasons were clear: under the newly proclaimed constitution, the president would have to be a Muslim and Roy was not willing to change his faith. Also, Roy described the position as a “gilded cage.”

When Bhutto was deposed in 1977, Raja Tridiv Roy was carted off in 1981 on an ambassadorship to far away Argentina. He returned to Islamabad in 1996. Since then, he was head of the Pakistan Buddhist Society.

Looking back, it would be unfair to say that Raja Roy migrated because he saw the Pakistan government as a better option. He was the head of a protected community, which was in an unenviable position when hostilities started between the Pakistan government and the Mukhti Bahini. Things have to be viewed in a historical context to understand Roy’s decision, say observers.

In 1947, the CHT should have gone to India as it was largely non-Muslim in its make-up. But this did not happen and the new government did not forgive the Chakmas for their pro-Indian stance immediately prior to independence. The special status of the CHT was changed and misused to allow non-indigenous people to migrate into these lands. In the early sixties, a hydro-electric dam was built which submerged about 40 per cent of the cultivatable land of the area.

As troubles started between the Mukti Bahini and the Pakistan Army, the Chakmas, learning their lesson from history, decided to remain aloof.

During this period, Raja Tridiv Roy stood for elections as an independent candidate, after refusing an Awami League ticket offered by Sheikh Mujib. This put the Awami League against Roy and the Chakmas. After the creation of Bangladesh, Roy left for Pakistan, because he felt that the demands for keeping the CHT autonomous and independent would not be met by the Bangladesh government.

Roy felt that his options in the newly emerging Bangladesh were limited: despite being an elected member of his people, he feared being put behind bars or exterminated, or worse, “sacrificing my principles and objectives for personal gains.” He tried to push for the continuation of special status for CHT but saw that the new government in Bangladesh was not interested.

In one interview, Raja Sahab said that he had “no regrets”, for abdicating his position and moving to Pakistan but was unhappy with the shabby treatment he has received after being relieved of his position as the Pakistan Ambassador to Argentina.

The Chakmas, meanwhile, have not fared too well either. There are reports of forcible conversions and settlements in the CHT protected areas to change the demographic mix-up of this community. The fallout has resulted in the fleeing of many tribals to neighbouring India.

In the final analysis, it can be said that the person who detested gilded cages ended up living in one. The Chakma House in Islamabad, where Raja Sahab spent the final years of his life forgotten by the Pakistan government and the community he served.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2012.


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Reader Comments (17)

  • Nav
    Sep 18, 2012 - 9:18AM

    Zafarullah Khan,Raja Tridev Roy, Cycil Chaudhary, Abdus Salam, Shahbaz Bhatti …see a pattern.


  • unbeliever
    Sep 18, 2012 - 9:33AM

    so he is more like an absconder, as most of kings in modern times are. left his people during the most difficult times.


  • santhosh
    Sep 18, 2012 - 9:36AM

    Do not forget this statement y Dalailama. He said like every human, every nation also has karma. It suffers for what it does. Pakistan has made too many people to suffer and to shed tears, it will not go off the map without paying for all that.


  • Zalim Singh
    Sep 18, 2012 - 9:39AM

    a very bad decision.


  • Major ( R ) Muhammad Arif TI(M)
    Sep 18, 2012 - 10:15AM

    A salute to Raja Sahib, He had lot of sacrifices for Pakistan. Today people may not be knowing that at the time of creation of Bangladesh Raja Sahib was Pakistani envoy at UNO. Sheikh Mjeeb tried his best that Raja sahib should announce joining Bangladesh so that Pakistan may be humiliated and embarrass at UNO, but he rejected all offers of Mujeeb and chose to came Pakistan , To acknowledge his devotion and love for Pakistan and to give proper respect against all protocols, Mr Z.A Bhutto received and welcomed Raja Sahib at Rawalpindi air Port.


  • Fahim Alavi
    Sep 18, 2012 - 10:19AM

    Seems a great person as from the article


  • Ashok
    Sep 18, 2012 - 10:21AM

    A case study on the importance of decision making.Recommend

  • Eddie
    Sep 18, 2012 - 10:30AM

    Not many people care about minorities here.


  • shadi
    Sep 18, 2012 - 10:37AM

    wow…Pakistans history is so rich! such admirable personalities which I dont even recall learning about in school. If only our school courses taught other things apart from admiration of pakistans armed forces.


  • Mohammad
    Sep 18, 2012 - 10:40AM

    May his soul rest in peace! We have several unsung hero in Pakistan and yes Raja is one of them.


  • MM Rahman
    Sep 19, 2012 - 5:06AM

    What kind of Raja is he who abandoned his people? The mindset of this correspondent reflects only that of a large number of Pakistanins– whats your problem in recognising the events of 1971 as more than turbulance! What kind of world do you live in?


  • mohammed bugi Ansari
    Sep 19, 2012 - 5:39PM

    What a Patriot Person-(he-RIP)- was, REGARDLESS OF ALL ILLS-stayed very very Close to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, never gave away any thing against the Integraty of Friendship, Nor About Pakistan-no matter where as tides did TURN against The state of Affairs of The sub Continent-he stood BY-US ALL STRONG-My Prays,I work for the cause of Minorities since 1969-Being Brought up in the family who were all Patriotic s,and Still ARE- they walked on the Principles of Quaid E Azam-instead of using GOVT fuel the car was switched off ,just to mention a few,as Quid Azam did , cut the budget of tea and snacks for the press conference-URGENT Matters of The state,NO HORSE TRADING POLICIES- in and Out side ,His Premises,which suddenly came TO A HALT- after dictators took away and industrialists,wanted to run the country the way they wanted, and CIA helped them all the way, even us aid gave a list of Favorited Citizens,the LIST does not finish what u have mentioned,The only man who survived and still does is Faiz Ahmed Faiz- Saheb- Mr I.A.Rehman- My Uncle who worked in Dawn ,Mr Jamil Ansari-and one of the Best of them all is Mr Allama Iqbals son Dr -Aftab Iqbal-who never cashed on being Allama’s son-and worked hard to become a self Made man, Dined with Kings as well as Heads of States,Hope that Late Raja Sahebs Family will be able to read my Lines, as i trust this is in Good Hands,Like Simeen Ali=Ra’ana- Dilruba- Yasmin- and others,


  • Salim Raza
    Sep 20, 2012 - 4:41AM

    I am a Pakistani and feel proud to be one of the citizen of the great country on the earth. But, the way this newspaper is trying to glorify Tridib Roy is not only surprising but simply objectionable. Raja Tridib was the real “Traitor” who betrayed Bangladesh during 1971. And remember, a person, who is able to betray his country, he is also able to betray any one.

    Thanks to Allah that he is dead. He might be hero for us or we can thank him the way he betrayed our enemy but do not feel too much for him. When a son betray his mother and take a shelter under his mother’s enemy, then remember,

    “He was never for his mother nor for his enemy”. He is a real loser.


  • ronnin Chakma
    Sep 22, 2012 - 6:59AM

    @Salim Raza:
    The decision was totally political not an emotional base. Those who have good knowledge over chakma past history with pakistan,is that under CHT 1900 constitution ordained by the British Rulers had given the chakma people safety and security and protection from the main stream. These was also retained by Pakistan and recognized in 1947 ,which gave the same opportunity to retain the special identity of the truble people in CHT. But in 1971 the new Bangladesh Govt over ruled the British constitution and made influx of plain people mixing up the tribe people with locals which they were not ready tp. There fore building Dam,sumbmerging the people’s dear house lands with out any given benefits and had made him think what could be the best. As sweared by the Pakistan govt and winning election he stayed with Pakistan govt and also the later incidents, by the new Bd govt, he took the political decision to fight for his people under Pakistan Govt, he fought 4 his people under the protection under he had taken oath for, he may hv betrayed bangladesh but he didnt betrayed his people, he fought and made us proud being a true Raza and emerging chakma people internationlly acclaimed andrecognized by UN, and many different countries like Australia, European countries , USA. If Chakma people are now recognized it was because of him, which might hv not been possible under BD govt, where he might hv been trialed. If Mujib couldnt save himself , who can same the Raza, He was a prudent politicians toulift the Chakma nationals in the world as internationally recognised in every everywhere, his daughter too took part and bcame a Special oenvoy of UN people with out Land. I personally salute this Person and strongly protest to salim raza who wrote ““He was never for his mother nor for his enemy”. He is a real loser. ” As the decision was totally political and for the people, he sacrficed his land where he was borned,Recommend

  • Syed Badrul Ahsan
    Sep 22, 2012 - 11:34PM

    Raja Tridiv Roy did not leave Bangladesh after its creation. Along with Nurul Amin, he left for Rawalpindi in early November 1971 when he was called by Gen. Yahya Khan for consultations. He did not or could not return to Bangladesh but happily served his adopted country.

    His reputation may be high in Pakistan, but in Bangladesh it is one of a man who ignored the atrocities committed by the Pakistan army in 1971 and who did not understand why the Bengalis were waging war against Pakistan to have their own independent state. He died a lonely man in Islamabad, as did Nurul Amin and Mahmud Ali before him.Recommend

  • Pin Boonpala
    Sep 25, 2012 - 8:08PM

    This is a great lost for the Chakma people in CHT and around the World. May his legacy towards peace and freedom of his people continue in each and everyone of the CHT. May his soul rest in peace.


  • Mohammad Taslim
    Oct 3, 2012 - 7:34PM

    He is like “Mir Zafar” in Bangladesh. Liked as comments of Mr Selim raza.“He was never for his mother nor for his enemy”. He is a real loser.


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