Having been indiscriminately targeted for their property and female members, the Hindus of Bangladesh are forced to migrate. Since there is no end to their woes and no government help seems coming, their fate hangs in balance
Jyoti Lal Chowdhury, Silchar
“Minorities in Bangladesh—Hindus, Buddhists and Christians—live in extreme perpetual fear. Among them, the condition of Hindu Bengalis is of great concern, as their land is being systematically grabbed by the anti-social elements under the patronage of local political parties,” said Parimal Kanti Choudhury, member of central committee of Bangladesh Hindu, Buddhist and Christian Aikya Parishad, while talking to mediapersons in Silcher on March 5. A seven-member team of the Aikya Parishad was there on a three-day
goodwill visit when it provided the media with an insight into the situation vis a vis minorities in their country.
Tapas Hore, organising secretary of the Aikya Parishad, cited the recent instances of the forcible occupation of 4,000 acres of land of Hindus in Monpura sub-division under Bhola district, South Bangladesh. The land grabber is a
frontline leader of the ruling Awami League, Md. Alauddin, who is also the GP president and organising secretary of Awami League. According to him, 5,000 Hindus have been living in the areas for years, drawing their sustenance from agriculture cultivation. The total area of 4,000 acres of land is recorded in the 56 and 57 moujas of Monpura.
Though the cultivable land was affected by the erosion of River Meghna not long ago, the situation in respect to land, however, has not changed. The Hindus have been regularly cultivating the land and making payment of
revenue. But, Alauddin and his alleged henchmen, Tapas Hore, would not allow the Hindus to live in peace. Woman members are also their target. Parimal Kanti Choudhury was more eloquent to say, “Hindus are being targeted for their property and female members and this is the stark reality irrespective of the governments in power”.
Indiscriminate land grabbing is
forcing Hindus and other minorities to migrate. Parimal Kanti Choudhury said after the Partition of India, the Hindu population in Bangladesh, erstwhile East Pakistan, was 30 per cent, which has now reduced to 8 per cent. The decline in population will continue until the fundamentalists are reined in by the power that be,” he pointed out. Quite sad, as he added, Awami League has outpaced Bangladesh Nationalist Party led by Khaleda Zia in land grabbing of Hindus. Even, the tribals are not spared. He saw in it a well designed pan-Islamic conspiracy to drive away the minorities from Bangladesh.
The Aikya Parishad members also did not rule out an international conspiracy behind it in order to create a greater Islamic state comprising Assam, West Bengal and Bangladesh, which had its genesis in the infamous Dhaka conclave of Muslim League just after the Independence of the country. A blueprint was made ready to wage direct assault on Assam and routes were laid down with Hojai, not far from Guwahati, as its epicentre. It is true that Indian Embassy in Dhaka after being apprised of the developments in respect of the atrocities on Hindus regularly reported to New Delhi, but to no effect, they added. In isolated pockets, Hindus are kept under threat and not allowed to exercise their franchise during elections.
The Aikya Parishad regretted that Indian Army, after the successful conclusion of liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, should have stayed for one month more to curb the fundamentalists and break their backbone. Most
unfortunate, in the name of Awami League, hoodlums are keeping a hawk eye on Hindu property and no effective punitive action by the local administration is initiated. They are also apprehensive of the recent enactment of the right to Hindu women to inherit their paternal or ancestral property. This will make them the target of majority
community members and even cause their forcible conversion.
Bangladesh Hindu, Buddhist and Christian Aikya Parishad also alleged the Vested Property Act has opened Pandora’s Box for Hindus. Those
minorities who get back their lands are also the target of land mafias. Prof Abul Barkat, an economist in Dhaka University, who has documented the land grabbing of Hindus in his much read books ‘Deprivation of Hindu Minority in Bangladesh: Living with Vested Property’ and ‘An Inquiry into Causes and Consequences of Deprivation of Hindu Minorities in Bangladesh through the Vested Property Act: Framework for a Realistic Solution’ has brought out the grim picture of how the Hindu Bengalis in particular are deserting their hearths and homes and by 2030, as he predicted, Bangladesh will become a state without Hindus. Relevant to point out, in 2001 Awami League Government enacted the Vested Property Act in order to restore the lost land to Hindus. Prof Barkat’s study shows that no list of people evicted of the land grabbed has been prepared even to this date.
The Aikya Parishad members have made an appeal to the UNO and its member countries including India to save them from the dark shadows of emerging situation. Still, they have faith in Awami League Government and at the same time want continuation of Narendra Modi Government after the 2019 elections. According to Nitai Prashad Ghosh, advocate and assistant secretary of the Aikya Parishad, public meetings and rallies would be organised on March 24 at Chittagong and a two-day mass meeting and rally at Dhaka on April 7 and 8 in order to highlight the plight of minorities and the grabbing of lands and properties.
According to Prof. Abul Barkat, the land and property grabbers were led by politically influential persons. Political parties, police and the hoodlums joined hands in this anti-Hindu operation. During the 5 year rule of Begum Khaleda Zia (2001-2006), Hindus lost 2.2 million acres of land valued at $ 4.2 billion. About 1.2 million or 4 per cent of the 2,70,000 Hindu households in Bangladesh were affected by the Enemy Property Act of 1965. Subsequently, Sheikh Hasina Government enacted the Vetsed Property Act in 2001 in order to restore the lost land to Hindu families. But, as pointed out Aikya Parishad has expressed its serious reservation as it has only encouraged the land grabbers to target families with female members, legally entitled to inherit the property. There is no end to the process of land grabbing and with that the fate of Hindu Bengalis and other minorities hangs in balance.