SILCHAR: Pseudo-secularists of India who lose sleeps and cry hoarse over a whiff of injustice to minorities prefer to remain quite deliberately not even to think or talk of the worst plight of Hindus in Bangladesh. The ever-decimating population of Hindus, as reflected in The Statistical Year Book- 2001 of Bangladesh is constantly witnessing a sense of insecurity. In 1901, Hindu population stood at 33 per cent but by the year 1991 it was down to 10.5 per cent. The statistical book is yet to calculate the percentage of Hindus in 2001. But the total population of the country, which was expected to reach 129.6 million by 2000 AD, stood at 123.1 million in 2001. This huge gap of 6.5 million population between the projected and the enumerated is an eloquent testimony to the continuous migration of Hindus to India from Bangladesh.
Not only the Hindus are subjected to physical and mental torture, they are also forced to desert their hearths and homes. During the rule of Begum Khaleda Zia led coalition government, the The Daily Star published a report from its Satkhira correspondent, which said, ?About 42 bighas of land belonging to a Hindu family has been grabbed by ruling party hoodlums at village Chhoto Shanto in Debhate upazila. A temple was torched and the image was damaged during the attack. The police said the attackers jointly led by Khalil Moral, Janab Ali Sazi, Entaz Gazi, Nawab Ali and Lutfor Rahman grabbed Birendra Nath'sland.?
The report further added that the ten persons who tried to resist the attack, five of whom identified as Devabrata Mitra 28, Swapan Mitra 50, Namita Rani Mitra 28, Bhaba Sindhu Mitra 56 and Ranjit Mitra 28, were critically injured. Local Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) leader and Parulia Unnayan Parishad chairman, Golam Farooq Babu while taking the incident lightly said the police have been deployed in the area but they failed to drive out or arrest the land grabbers.
This is one of the glaring examples of how the properties of Hindus are grabbed, their places of worship are desecrated and all this goes on with direct connivance of the ruling party and police.
Are Hindus safe under Awami League? Not in any way. A research study carried out by Prof. Abdul Barkat of Dhaka University has shown that the land and property grabbers belong to all the major political parties?Awami League, Bangladesh Nationalist Party, Jamaat-e-Islami and Jatiya Party. In the continuing process, around two lakh Hindu families have been dispossessed of their 40,000 acres of land and about 40,000 houses during the last six years alone.
Hindus, the well-documented dissertation reveal, have been the worst affected in the well-orchestrated violence and repression perpetrated on them in the five years rule of BNP under Begum Khaleda Zia. During her regime (2001-2006), 45 per cent of the land grabbers belonged to BNP, 31 per cent to Awami League, 8 per cent to Jamaat-e-Islami and 6 per cent to Jatiya Party and other groups. The land and property grabbers were led by politically influential persons. In other words, political parties, police and the hoodlums joined hands in this anti-Hindu operation.
The research paper of Prof Abdul Barkat titled ?Deprivation of Affected Million Families: Living with Vested Property in Bangladesh? has more alarming facts to reveal. During the five years rule of Begum Khaleda Zia, the Hindus lost 2.2 million acres of land valued at $ 4.2 billion which is more than half of the country'sGross Domestic Product (GDP). About 1.2 million or 4 per cent of the 2,70,000 Hindu households in the country were affected by the Enemy Property Act of 1965, enacted during the Pakistani era and its post-Independence version, the Vested Property Act 1974. In 2001, the then Awami League Government led by Sheikh Hasina enacted the ?Vested Property Act? in suppression of the ?Vested property Act? in order to restore the lost land to Hindu families. The study says that no record was prepared to enforce this law. Media criticised the move as a ?political gimmick? to woo the Hindu voters before the general elections. The influential daily, New Age, described it as a ?political tokenism? to appease minority people. The research paper has found holes in the law, which failed to work on the ground, as no list of people evicted of the land grabbed has been prepared even to this date. With the return of BNP, it has been back to square one.
Barkat forewarns, ?This is a man-made problem, opposed to the spirit of humanity. We have to get rid of this uncivilised state of affairs to establish a civilised society. Otherwise, we have to face a bigger historic catastrophe?. But, then who listens.
(The author can be contacted at Satsang Ashram Road, Silchar, Assam-788 007, e-mail: [email protected])