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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Enemy Property Act (euphemistically called Vested Property Act) 2009 will be revoked.

Source: BHBCUC, USA


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 26, 2010

New York - The Enemy Property Act: BHBCUC, USA Welcomes the Bangladesh Government’s Decision to Revoke the Vested Property Restoration Act of 2009 and Reformulate a more humane Vested Property Restoration Act.
Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist & Christian Unity Council, USA welcomes Bangladesh Government’s decision to rescind the Vested Property Restoration Act of 2009, which was recently approved by the cabinet but later withdrawn by Land Minister in the face of serious concern expressed by BHBCOP, civil society and concerns expressed by such international bodies as the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (Please see attached its Press Release on this issue).
At the instruction of Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina Wazed, yesterday, the 25th of January 2010, the Deputy Leader of the House Begum Sajeda Chowdhury held a haring on the issue of the Vested Property Restoration Act of 2009.
The victims of the Enemy Property Act and the potential victims of the Vested Property Restoration Act of 2009, which had been approved by the cabinet on but withdrawn by the Speaker at the request of the land Minister Rezaul Karim Hira, were represented by a delegation of five officials of Bangladesh Hindu, Bouddha Christan Oikya Parishad , Sector Commander, Major General ( Retd.) C. R. Dutta Bir Uttam, General Secretary Advocate Rana Das-Gupta and Presidium Members: Supreme Court Advocate Subrata Chowdhury, Mr. Kajal Debnath and Mr. Parimal Guha.
The Government of Bangladesh/Parliament was represented by the Deputy Leader of the House Begum Sajeda Chowdhury, three Chairmen of the Parliamentary Standing committees: Barrister Shafique Ahmed, M.P. ( Law), Mr. Surnajit Sengupta, M.P. (Parliamentary Affairs), Advocate Muzammel Haque, M. P. (Land), Land Minister Mr. Rezaul Karim Hira , Minister for Local Government & Rural Development Syed Ashraful Islam, M. P. ( also the Secretary General of the Awami League), State Minister for Land Advocate Mustafizur Rahman, M. P., Mr. Ahsanul Haque Inu, M. P. (Jatiya Samajtantrik Daal ‘Party’), Mr. Rashed Khan Menon, M. P. (The Workers’ Party), among others, who included the bureaucrats -- Secretaries , too).
The hearing began with the opening statement made by the Deputy Leader of the House Begum Sajeda Chowdhury. In her statement, she stated that, the hearing was being held at the instruction of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed and in response to the concern expressed by Bangladesh Hindu, Bouddha Christan Oikya Praishad (Bangladesh Hindu, Buddhist & Christian Unity Council). She also mentioned that, this was an unprecedented meeting in that no such meeting was even held in the history of Bangladesh Parliament. Having said that, she requested the delegation of BHBCOP to make its presentation on the issue.
Advocate Rana Das-Gupta, Secretary General of BHBCOP made the presentation, in which he basically said that, when the victims of the Vested/Enemy Property Act , that is the minorities of Bangladesh were patiently waiting for the government to enact a modified version of the Vested Property Restoration Act of 2001 reflecting the Supreme Court verdict of March 23, 1974 which rendered Enemy Property Act null and void, and including the right of inheritance by the co-sharers and owners of adjacent properties of the same religious group, all of as sudden the cabinet passed a new Vested Property Restoration Act, namely the Vested Property Restoration Act of 2009, which would augment the sufferings of the victims rather than ending their sufferings, which it is seemingly purported to do. After explaining how the Vested Property Restoration Act could be used to harass the minorities and seize more land form them, he made an impassioned appeal to the parliament and the government to take the following steps, immediately:
  • (i) Discard the Vested Property Restoration Act of 2009 altogether; and
  • (ii) Enact a modified version of the Vested Property Restoration Act of 2001, reflecting the Supreme Court verdict of March 23, 1974 and by adding the right of inheritance by the co-sharers ( relatives) and the owners of adjacent property belonging to the same religious group.
After Advocate Das-Gupta, Chairman of the Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs Mr. Suranjit Sen-Gupta, M. P. spoke. He completely supported Advocate Ranan Das-Gupta’s proposal. He bluntly accused the corrupt politicians and evil bureaucrats for
drafting the Vested Property Restoration Act of 2009, which not only failed to improve upon the Vested Property Restoration Act of 2001 but hurt the victims even further. Speaking after him, Chairman of the Standing Committee on Law and Judiciary Affairs Barrister Sahfiqul Haque also supported the position of Advocate Ran Das-Gupta. In the face of severe criticism the Land Ministry by Mr. Suranjit Sen-Gupta and the Minister for Law and Judiciary Affairs, the Land Minister said that the bill was not drafted by them and supported the proposal of BHBCOP. The state Minister of Land said that after holding five meetings on the issue he sent his recommendations; however, those recommendations were not reflected in the real bill that was drafted.
In the face of severe criticism of the bureaucrats, one of the Secretaries present at the meeting said that they follow orders given by the politicians [which implies that some political leaders of Awami League and perhaps a few corrupt and racist bureaucrats conspired to craft a bill that would hurt rather than help the minorities or the victims of Enemy Property Act.]
In the end, Deputy Leader of the House Begum Sajeda Chowdhury also agreed that the points made by Advocate Rana Das-Gupta were very reasonable and valid. She then declared that:
  • (i) Soon the Land Minister would address the parliament and revoke the Vested Property Restoration Act of 2009 by making mention of the fact that it was being done in consultation with the representatives of the BHBOP; and
  • (ii) A new Vested Property Restoration Act would be drafted under the direct Supervision of the Chairmen of the Parliamentary Standing Committees on Law, Judiciary, Land and Parliamentary Affairs, that is Barrister Shafiqul Haque, MP, Mr. Suranjit Sen-Gupta , MP, Mr. Rezaul Karim Hira, and Advocate Mozammel Haque, M. P.
Bangladesh Hindu, Buddhist & Christian Unity Council, USA firmly believes this would not have been possible unless the U. S. Commission on Religious Freedom had acted decisively and in a timely fashion (Please see the USCIRF’s Press Release on this issue at www. uscirf.gov).
BHBCUC, USA would like to thank not only the USCIRF but also the many kind officials of the U. S. Department of State, DRL, House and Senate Committees on Foreign Relations the compassionate Senators and Congressmen as well as the officers of the AI USA, HRW, the U.N., NDI, and the Refugees International.
P.S. This press release is written based on a telephonic communication between Advocate Rana Das-Gupta, Secretary General of BHBCOP, who made the presentation at the said hearing and Dr. Dwijen Bhattacharjya, Official Spokesperson for BHBCUC, USA and, hence, there might be some minor errors in the details of the news.
Contact: Rup Kumar Bhowmick,
Director Communications & Publications

kumarbh@hotmail.com
Phone: (646) 240 – 5840
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Bangladesh Hindu, Buddhist & Christian Unity Council , USA
Presidents: Mr. Julius Gomes, Mr. Swapan Das & Mr. Ranabir Barua
Executive vice President: Mr. Probir Roy
General Secretary: Mr. Bappi Sen
Treasurer: Mr. Shontosh Shaha
Director Policy: Dr. Jiten Roy
Director Communications & Publications: Mr. Rup Kumar Bhowmick,
Chairman/Board of directors: Mr. Shyamal Sharma
Vice Chairman/Board of directors: Mr. Bidyut Das
Member Secretary/Board of Directors: Mr. Ranjit Bhaduri
Official Spokesperson: Dr. Dwijen Bhattacharjya

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