RELIGIOUS minorities in Bangladesh are still being subjected to repression by the ruling quarters which appear to be in a spree of grabbing their land, leaders of a coalition of religious minorities said. The Hindu-Buddhist Christian Unity Council recorded 150 incidents of repression on minority people in different parts of the country in six months. The organisation’s general secretary Rana Das Gupta said that at least three people were killed because of repression while many houses were burnt and families were driven out from their homesteads. The assailants carried out attacks, looted valuables and tried to drive away families to take control of the land of minority communities. The minorities account for about 15 per cent of the country’s total population.
Incidents of arson and extortion were reported from some places. Most of the land grab incidents took place in Natore, Pirojpur, Chittagong, Narsingdi, Bagerhat, Barisal, Madaripur, Tangail, Satkhira, Pabna, Manikganj and Munshiganj, according to the organisation report. Many of the families are under constant threats by influential people, according to complaints lodged with police stations. “Politically powerful quarters are involved in most of the case of repression and there has been hardly any remedy,” Rana said, adding that the administration did not care much about the cases if ruling quarters were involved in the incidents. The police carry out investigation only of the cases having no direct involvement of political quarters, he said. “We have been witnessing repression on minority communities for a long time. During the previous regime, it was a minority cleansing and now we see ruling party activists in a land grabbing spree,” the organisation secretary said. The president of the organisation, CR Dutta, also a veteran freedom fighter, said it is a fact that minorities are being subjected to repression by the present government. “We have informed the government of the atrocities. All should understand that the people do not take such persecution easily. The people responsible for such persecution will not be spared,” he said, reminding the government of its electoral pledge to ensure safety and security of the minority communities. He further said that the activists of the ruling Awami League and its front organisations are mostly involved in such land grabbing activites of the minorities.
Some of the complaints have been sent to the Prime Minister’s Office seeking government’s intervention against such incidents. The local Awami League activists are also extorting money from the minority people, mostly belonging to the Hindu community. At Baraigram, ruling party activists set on the fire the house of a minority family as the family refused to withdraw a criminal case filed against the activists who killed one of the family members.
In Khulna four incidents of repression took place in the district after the Awami League-led government had assumed office in January 2009. According to the Dumuria police, Kamalesh Mistri, a resident of the area, filed a case with the police on November 17, 2009 against 8 people alleging that his niece, Shampa Mistri, 15, had committed suicide on November 13, 2009 as some young men used to harass her on her way to and from school. The family said most of the accused were activists of the Awami League and they had pressured the family to withdraw the case. The investigation officer of the case, SI Golam Rasul, said he had submitted the final report on the case as the complainant was unwilling to proceed. The homesteads of 14 Hindu families were levelled to the ground at Deuatala of Batiyaghata on November 24, 2009 by a group of musclemen, who were relatives of a local Awami League leader. The family of Anil Maitra at Kotla of Dighalia in Khulna was attacked, the house was looted and five of the family members were butchered on 15-04-2010. All this happened because Anil’s son Amrita Maitra reportedly protested at the harassment of a teenaged girl by a local Juba League man.
A minority community girl was abducted from her house at Sultanpur, Manikganj by a group of local goons on June 2006.The girl was left near a marshland after rape. The incident was reported to the local police station but the police was unwilling to extend cooperation while the accused continued to threaten the family asking not to take up the matter to court.