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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Bangladeshi Hindus loose property: Study


IANS [ SATURDAY, MAY 26, 2007 02:15:05 PM]

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News/PoliticsNation/Bangladeshi_Hindus_loose_property_study/articleshow/2075932.cms

DHAKA: Nearly 200,000 Hindu families of Bangladesh have lost about 40,000 acres of land and houses in the last six years, 'grabbed' by politically powerful people, says a just concluded study. The study has found that the new occupants of land and property belong to all the mainstream parties - Sheikh Hasina's Awami League, Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party, Jamaat-e-Islami and Jatiya Party.
Abul Barkat, professor of economics at Dhaka University who conducted research on the subject, says some 1.2 million or 44 percent of the 270,000 Hindu households in the country were affected by the Enemy Property Act 1965, enacted during the Pakistan era, and its post-independence version - the Vested Property Act 1974.

In 2001, the then government led by Awami League enacted the "Vested Property Return Act" to repeal the Vested Property Act with a view to restoring ownership of the lost land to many Hindu families. But no records have been prepared to enforce this law, according to the study.

The move was then criticised as a 'political tokenism' aimed to appease minority voters prior to the general elections, New Age newspaper said Saturday.

At the current market price, the value of the 2.2 million acres of land that the Hindu families were displaced from is nearly $4.22 billion, which is more than half of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), says the study.

"This is a man-made problem contrary 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," Barkat states in the abridged version of his research paper, "Deprivation of Affected Million Families: Living with Vested Property in Bangladesh", to be published in its entirety later.

While trying to review the impact of the law on the land ownership of the Hindu community, Barkat has found that no list of the people evicted or the quantum of lands grabbed has been prepared till date.

During the reign of the BNP-led alliance government (2001-06), 45 percent of the land grabbers were affiliated with BNP, 31 percent with Awami League, eight percent with Jamaat-e-Islami and six percent with Jatiya Party and other groups.

Barkat mentions that the affected Hindu families met with more incidents of violence and repression in the five years of the BNP-led government than in the previous five years of the Awami League government.

He dismisses the 'Hindu versus Muslim' polarisation in the problem and claims that it is an issue created by communal elements and vested interests groups.

"Criminals do not bother whether a piece of land is owned by a Hindu or Muslim. They resort to easy means to loot property," he adds.
Bangladeshi Hindus loose property: study

DHAKA: Nearly 200,000 Hindu families of Bangladesh have lost about 40,000 acres of land and houses in the last six years, 'grabbed' by politically powerful people, says a just concluded study. The study has found that the new occupants of land and property belong to all the mainstream parties - Sheikh Hasina's Awami League, Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party, Jamaat-e-Islami and Jatiya Party.

Abul Barkat, professor of economics at Dhaka University who conducted research on the subject, says some 1.2 million or 44 percent of the 270,000 Hindu households in the country were affected by the Enemy Property Act 1965, enacted during the Pakistan era, and its post-independence version - the Vested Property Act 1974.

In 2001, the then government led by Awami League enacted the "Vested Property Return Act" to repeal the Vested Property Act with a view to restoring ownership of the lost land to many Hindu families. But no records have been prepared to enforce this law, according to the study.

The move was then criticised as a 'political tokenism' aimed to appease minority voters prior to the general elections, New Age newspaper said Saturday.

At the current market price, the value of the 2.2 million acres of land that the Hindu families were displaced from is nearly $4.22 billion, which is more than half of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), says the study.

"This is a man-made problem contrary 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," Barkat states in the abridged version of his research paper, "Deprivation of Affected Million Families: Living with Vested Property in Bangladesh", to be published in its entirety later.

While trying to review the impact of the law on the land ownership of the Hindu community, Barkat has found that no list of the people evicted or the quantum of lands grabbed has been prepared till date.

During the reign of the BNP-led alliance government (2001-06), 45 percent of the land grabbers were affiliated with BNP, 31 percent with Awami League, eight percent with Jamaat-e-Islami and six percent with Jatiya Party and other groups.

Barkat mentions that the affected Hindu families met with more incidents of violence and repression in the five years of the BNP-led government than in the previous five years of the Awami League government.

He dismisses the 'Hindu versus Muslim' polarisation in the problem and claims that it is an issue created by communal elements and vested interests groups.

"Criminals do not bother whether a piece of land is owned by a Hindu or Muslim. They resort to easy means to loot property," he adds.

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