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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Nearly 2 lakh minority Hindus lost lands worth about $156 million in Bangladesh

http://www.asiantribune.com/index.php?q=node/5891

Nearly 2 lakh minority Hindus lost lands worth about $156 million in Bangladesh
Sun, 2007-05-27 05:44
By M Rama Rao - Reporting for Asian Tribune from Delhi

New Delhi, 27 May,(Asiantribune.com): Nearly two lakh Hindus have lost 22 lakh acres of their land and houses during the last six years, a Dhaka University Professor says. The market value of this land is Taka 2, 52,000 crore (about $156 million), which is more than half of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).
'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,' Professor Abdul Barkat, who teaches economics, insists in his research paper, 'Deprivation of affected million families: Living with Vested Property in Bangladesh'.
Politically powerful people grabbed most of the Hindu lands during the reign of Begum Khaleda Zia's BNP-led four-party alliance between 2001 and 2006. Forty-five per cent of the land grabbers were affiliated with the BNP, 31 per cent with the Awami League, eight per cent with Jamaat-e-Islami and six per cent with the Jatiya Party and other political organisations, the New Age, Dhaka daily quotes Prof Barkat as saying in his report, which will be published shortly.
Some 12 lakh or 44 per cent of the 27 lakh Hindu households in the country were affected by the Enemy Property Act 1965 and its post-independence version, the Vested Property Act 1974.
The Begum Sheikh Hasina led Awami League government annulled this Act in 2001. It wanted to return the 'vested' property to their original Hindu owners. The move was criticised as a 'political tokenism' aimed to appease minority voters prior to the general elections.
But in reality, as Professor Barkat study shows the Hasina largesse did not benefit the Hindu minority, who owned land at the time of partition. Infact, it ended up displacing most of them from their ancestral land.
While trying to review the impact of the law on the land ownership of the Hindu community, Prof Barkat found that no list of the people evicted or the quantum of lands grabbed on the basis of the Vested Property Act has been prepared till date.
Instead, politically powerful people grabbed most of the land during the reign of the BNP-led alliance government between 2001 and 2006.
The affected Hindu families met with more incidents of violence and repression in the immediate-past five years of the BNP-led government than in the previous five years of the Awami League government, the Barkat research report concludes, according to The New Age.
Prof Barkat points out that 53 per cent of the family displacement and 74 per cent of the land grabbing occurred following the India-Pakistan War in 1965. The then Pakistan government introduced the Enemy Property (Custody and Registration) Order II as a tool for appropriating the lands of the minority Hindus.
Political elements, locally influential people in collaboration with the land administration, trickery by land officials and employees themselves, use of force and crookedness, fake documentation, contracted farmers and death or exile of original owners have contributed to the phenomenon, according to Professor Barkat's study covering 6 districts across the country. More than 60 per cent of the owners and the successors of 'vested properties' are either dead or have left the country.
The Professor doesn't think the land grab was a problem of 'Hindu versus Muslim' polarisation. "Criminals do not bother whether a piece of land is owned by a Hindu, a Muslim or a Santal and they simply loot property. The problem highlights the 'inability' and 'weakness' of the majority people to raise protests though they are non-communal".
- Asian Tribune -

Human Rights defenders harassed in Bangladesh

HRCBM's human rights advocates were attacked again due HRCBM's investogative report filed on 26th May, 07 which states "perpetrators set fire on Minority Hindu house of Ms.Kalpana Rani Biswas at Paragram- Nowabganj P.S.-Dhaka on the night of 26th May, 07."
This attack has been made again because HRCBM's rights advocates submitted allegations against police officers at different levels.

We received information that some powerful perpetrators set fire on the house of Ms.Kalpana Rani Biswas wife of Dasharat Biswas today in the morning at about 8 a.m. and as a result of fire all clothes and two tables worth Taka 20,000/- has been burnt to ashes.

As soon as I got the news I talked with Mr.Kamaluddin- Deputy Commissioner, Dhaka over his Cell telephone number -01713048580 and imparted that some perpetrators set fire on the house of Ms.Kalpana Biswas and as a result of such fire some portion of the house burnt and some valuable clothes were burnt to ashes. D.C.Dhaka informed the Thana Nirbahi Officer, Nowabganj for taking necessary action in this regard.

I also talked with Mr.Shoeb Ahmed – AIG of Police –Security Cell and imparted the situation. I also told them that I could visit the spot to day.

Accordingly, in view of appeal submitted by Ms.Kalpana Rani Biswas wife of Dasharat Biswas of village: Paragram, P.s. Nawabganj, District-Dhaka I on behalf of GHRD-Dhaka along with Jagadish Chandra Sarkar and Bablu visited the spot and found that a portion of house was burnt and some valuable clothes with two wooden tables have been burnt to ashes. We could take picture and video-statements of the victim and other witnesses and all of them certified that the perpetrators got opportunity as the police did not take any action on the basis of FIR filed by Dasharat Biswas on 09.05.2007 at Nowabganj Police station for unauthorized destruction of fencing wall of the victim.

During our investigation Mr.Md.Nazmul Hossain, Additional Superintendent of Police, Dhaka (who threatened me over phone on 20th May, 07) Assistant Superintendent of police, Circle, Thana Nirbahi Officer-Nowabganj and the Officer-in-Charge of Nowabganj P.S. Dhaka were present. The minority victim Ms.Kalpana Rani shoed them her burnt house and clothings and imparted them under what circumstances her house was set on fire and who were the perpetrators. But Mr. Md. Nazmul Hosain – Additional Superintendent of Police could not believe her story and tried to by-pass. And he started put pressure on the victim to say that this fire was not originated from outside, it was due to accident and it might be the device of the victim to harass the Muslim inhabitants. Md. Nazmul Hossain also tried to make me understand that setting fire is due to either accident or preconception by the owner of the house.

In the meantime the perpetrators surreptitiously made up a plan to harass our human rights defenders in course of our investigation into the matter in presence of police officers to-day (26.05.07) All on a sudden some unruly mob claiming money from the victim Ms.Kalpana appeared to us with ugly attitude and surrounded us for recovery of loan money which was given Ms. Kalapana for business purpose. Not only that they also submitted an allegation against Ms.Kalpana to Officer-in-Charge making a hypnotically amount of money for recovery and they tried to obstruct our moment from the place. Then I reported it to the O.C. on the spot, but the O.C. most cleverly kept himself aloof taking any action against the perpetrators.

We went to Nowabganj police station and made a general diary No. 1119 dated 26.05.2007 for harassment by the mob in presence of police officers. Police officers did not play a good role for protection of human rights defenders.

Ms.Kalpana Rani also submitted an F.I.R. at Nowabganj police station stating the allegation that her house was set on fire on 26.05.2007 with bad intention to kill her family and for grabbing the valuable lands.

We have returned from the spot at about 10 p.m. at night at Dhaka

I am sending some documents and pictures soon.

Thanks,
Adv.Rabindra Ghosh
HRCBM-Dhaka

HRCBM's Human Rights Defenders receive threat from Superintendent of Police-Dhaka, Bangladesh

PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS AND MINORITIES- ENSURE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND HUMANITARIAN ACTIVITIES.

Mr.Md.Ibrahim Fatemi – Superintendent of Police-Dhaka threatened me to abandon our humanitarian job for the minorities of Bangladesh over his telephone cell number: 01711152778 yesterday on 19th of May 2007 at about 2-30 p.m. I was trying to meet with him at his office for alleged abuses of human rights violations against religious minorities within his jurisdiction. I solicited S.P's assistance as per directives of Barrister Moinul Husain-Adviser for Law and Information on the following agenda: -

1) O.C. –Nowabganj-Dhaka did not help recording a genuine case of one minority victim – Dasharat Biswas son of late Meghalal Biswas of the same locality whose dwelling house was going to be occupied illegally by some land grabbers by practicing fraud, rather the O.C. intimidated the victim to concede to the demand of illegal land grabbers.
2) Md.Ikbal Hossain – O.C. Dhamrai P.S.-Dhaka arrested destitute minority victim-Sunil Monirishi recording two false cases against six minority victims duly influenced by the local Chairman and U.P. Member belonging to BNP( Dhamrai P.S. case No. 09 dated 27.02.2007 and Dhamrai P.S.case No. 12 dated 13.12.2006.

I requested Md.Ibrahim Fatemi –S.P. to take necessary steps against two Police officers who were indulging bad practices in the locality endangering the rights of the people on the above specific allegations from the minority victims. But the S.P. on the spur of the moment said " Don't disturb me any more, I know you since long. You picked up a quarrel with S.P. Narayanganj in the first of part of January, 2006 while video camera was detained for two hours while I was the Additional Superintendent of Police, Narayanganj " Then he disconnected my telephone line most discourteously.

Then I talked with Mr.S.M. Sazzat Ali, PPM, Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Dhaka Range, Dhaka over his Cell telephone Number:01713373316 and apprised him about the telephonic conversation between S.P. and myself. He then gave me an appointment to day (20th of May, 07) at his office and met along with the victims of the respective areas and ventilated the grievances of the victims at about 1-30 p.m. Mr. Sazzat Ali patiently heard the victims and myself and directed the O.C. Nowabganj P.S. to take case from the minority victim. Mr. Sazzat Ali also requested me to contact with respective Additional Superintendent of Police and the O.C.-Dhamrai P.S. to know how the O.C. submitted charge sheet against the minority victims in a false case.

I also contacted with Md.Nazmul Hossain, Additional Superintendent of Police, and Dhaka over his Cell telephone No. 01713373321 and politely requested him to know how in a false case the O.C. Dhamrai P.S. arrested the minority victim maliciously and sent him in jail custody and submitted charge sheet in Dhamrai P.S. case No. 12 dated 13.12.2006. Mr. Nazmul Hossain became angry with me and started to rebuke in filthy languages " You don't interfere our government duties – if you in future disturb us you will be in great problem and we may send you in prison also."

I also talked with Md.Ikbal Hossain, O.C. Dhamrai P.S. over his telephone No.01716873886 and wanted to know how two false cases have been recorded against the minority victim-Sunil Chandra Monidas and how they have been sent to prison without any lawful authority. The O.C. on the spur of the moment became angry and started to rebuke me in filthy languages and said that " Why you are so interested with the victim-women –Shili Rani – Do you like to marry her? " Then he disconnected my telephone line most discourteously.

I also talked with Mr.Mokammel, Private Secretary to Mr.Abdul Karim- Secretary of Ministry of Home yesterday and informed him the situation over his telephone No.10712856809.

I also met with Mr.Nur Mohammad – Inspector-General of Police, Bangladesh for necessary help and enquiry into the allegations contained in my application submitted to-day 22nd of May,2007 at about 2.30 p.m. at his office. IGP was kind enough to entrust this matter to Mr. Shoeb Ahmed, Assistant Inspector General of Police, Security Cell –Dhaka for taking necessary steps. But Mr. Shoeb Ahmed felt reluctance to know that we are working for the cause of Minorities in particular. According to him everybody should work for all citizens of Bangladesh not for only minorities.

I have narrated all the recent atrocities against the minorities today; but no effective measures could be taken against the perpetrators. Mr.Shoeb Ahmed, however, this time, assured me that he would be made available at his cell Number 01713373014 and he will try his best to look into the matter in future.

I told them that HRCBM has been in the line to protect, restore, nurture and promote human rights, freedom and justice for the religious and ethnic minorities of Bangladesh in particular and all citizen of general. But in every occasion the government kept silent on this matter.

I would fervently request to take up the matter with the highest authority so that Human rights activists now working for the protection of rights of minorities could be protected. We are facing tremendous difficulties and inviting discontentment from the government officials in course of our investigation on serious human rights violations against minorities. They are treating our activities as anti-social and anti-majority.

Urgent action in this regard may kindly be issued.

Regards,

Adv.Rabindra Ghosh
HRCBM-Dhaka-Bangladesh.
http://www.hrcbm.org

A Hindu minority teenage girl raped in Natore district, Bangladesh

A minority teenage girl raped in Natore district
(The Daily Janakantha, 20th May 07)

From Our Correspondent

NATORE, May 20: A minority girl named Ms.Beauty Rani(16) was raped in Natore district, although the victim called the rapist "religious father". She could not be rescued despite repeated requests. Beauty told that a man named Gazi who was a ring leader during the regime of the alliance government came to the house of Beauty's house on Thursday night and took Beauty to his house saying that he had some talks with her. When aunty of Beauty Satyarani and a man named Narayan resisted Beauty, they were scolded by Gazi at that time. Every local of the area was afraid of Gazi. Later, Gazi did not take her in his house rather took her in a banana garden and there he beat Beauty and raped her threatening to kill her and then he fled from the spot. A case was lodged in this connection with the police station on Friday and the medical test of Beauty was also done but the family of Beauty got separated from the area. Police told that there were many cases against terrorist Gazi. The locals told that Gazi and his associates were very silent so many days after the hand over of the power of the alliance government. But recently, they got very active. They again started snatching at the dead of night.
Through :
HRCBM-Dhaka-Bangladesh
http://www.hrcbm.org

A minority girl abducted in Muradnagar Upazila of Comilla district, Bangladesh

Incident: A minority school going girl abducted in Muradnagar Upazila of Comilla district not rescued even after 8 days of her abduction

(The Daily Ajker Kagoj, 21st May 07)

From Our Correspondent

MURADNAGAR, May 21 : Sumi Rani Saha (14), daughter of Shoponchandra Saha of village Hussaintala under Nobipur union of Muradnagar upazila and also a student of class eight of Companiganj Badiul Alam High School was abducted on May 13 last on her way back home.

The family of Sumi is very much concerned as Muradnagar police could not rescue her even after passing 8 days from her abduction. Md. Anisur Rahman, OC of Muradnagar police station told in this connection that they were trying their best to rescue Sumi and they arrested Manik Miah, son-in-law of Abdul Hakim of village Shibanipaur on suspicion of his involvement with the abduction and sent him to Comilla prison. A case was lodged with Muradnagar police station on May 14 last in this connection accusing four persons including Manik Miah.

Through : HRCBM-Dhaka-Bangladesh.

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.

Amnesty concerned at death, torture in custody

Amnesty concerned at death, torture in custody
Staff Correspondent
http://www.thedaily star.net/ 2007/05/13/ d70513012213. htm


Amnesty International has expressed grave concern over the alleged "tortures and deaths in custody" since the declaration of the state of emergency in January 11 in Bangladesh, it said in a statement.The human rights watchdog called for prompt, impartial and effective investigations into all reports of torture and death in custody and urged the caretaker government to ensure that any official responsible for such heinous acts be punished after a fair trial.In the statement issued on May 10, it said it believes that the opportunity should now be seized to send a clear and unequivocal message that a climate of impunity, which has previously shielded politicians, law enforcement agencies and other officials responsible for human rights violations from effective prosecution, will no longer be tolerated.The human rights organisation drew attention to the reported death in custody of Garo community leader Cholesh Richil on March 18, 2007 following torture by law enforcement agencies and demanded "those identified as responsible for the death in custody of Cholesh Richil are brought to justice in a fair trial without delay."They also demanded that the government allow witnesses to submit evidence without fear and make public the terms of reference of the judicial commission formed to investigate the death of Cholesh and also the report of the commission be made public.Amnesty International also condemned the reported arrest and torture of Shahidul Islam, founder director of Uttaran, an NGO. They demanded that an independent and impartial investigation into the allegations be instituted, its terms of reference include protection of witnesses and the government make public the outcome of the investigation.They also recommended that the government establishes clear and enforceable safeguards against abuse of administrative detention procedures during the state of emergency, which Amnesty International says results in torture.