The Marma community, led by the Mong Chief were originally Burmese settlers who fled Myanmar to escape unrest in the 16th Century. The Mong Chief (Raja) was then one of many Tribal Chiefs who ruled the separate and distinctive clans of the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
Rule by tribal chiefs predates the British incursion into India, but the administrative role of the modern Raja was formalised under colonial rule. The British faced strong and effective military opposition to their invasion of the Hill Tracts, sustaining heavy losses due to the difficulty of the Hill Tracts terrain and the relative power of the Chakma military. Following their victory in 1882, the British neutered this opposition by subdividing the Chittagong Hill Tracts region into three separate Circles – the Bohmong, Chakma and Mong Circles. Structured autonomous rule was confirmed in the Chittagong Hill Tracts Act 1900.
Today, Khagrachari is a diverse and multi cultural area, and the Mong Chief provides the services of traditional goverment to communities of Bengali, Chakma, Marma and Tripura people.
The Mong Dynasty
The Mong Dynasty can be traced through British records from the 17th Centery. The first Chief of the Mong was Raja Kong Joy, who ruled in the 17th century. In 1826, the Price Kyo Jo Sin became the second Raja at the age of 6. The third Raja succeeded the throne in 1870 and continued his rule until 1879 July 1883, after the death of Raja Nirobhodhi his younger brother the Prince Keeojaprue Sin became the 4th king of the Mong Circle. On his death his niece Ni-u-mah was installed at the throne as the 5th Raja of the Mong Circle. A ruler from the age of 13, she remains the only woman to have led th the Mong Dynasty – indeed the only woman Raja to have ruled any Circle in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
In 1922 her son Mong Prue Sin,became the sixth Raja of Mong circle and continued his reign till 1984. Raja Mong Prue Sin joined the Freedom Fighters of Bangladesh in 1971, and was awarded the highest honour – the BIR – by the victorious revolutionary government. His service to the nation was widely recognised: on his death Government and the Bangladeshi police honoured him. He was also recognised as a reformer – building roads and community facilities, and working with the local Bengali community to create a peaceful and inclusive Circle.
In 1984, Raja Paihala Prue Chowdhury, son of former Raja Ni-u-mah Sin’s cousin was appointed as 7th Mong Raja. Raja Paihala Prue was known as a kind, fair and firm Leader, who commanded the respect of Headmen, Karbari and residents. Under his leadership, the Mong Circle started the process of modernization, providing training to the Headmen on their duties and successfully managing the build of 5 new Multi Purpose Community Centres. In 2008, he died tragically in an accident on his return journey from a study tour hosted by the Australian Government.
Raja Saching Prue Chowdhury was confirmed as 8th Mong Raja and continues his rule today. The young Raja aims to create a Mong Circle that serves and represents all residents of the Khagrachari area.