Dhaka: Minority Hindus in a Bangladeshi district have alleged that some ruling Awami League leaders are trying to grab their land, even as a judicial investigation is underway to examine identical complaints during the previous regime of Khaleda Zia.
"Since the incumbent government assumed office (after December 29, 2008 elections), ruling party lawmaker Anwar Hossain is trying to grab our lands," one of the victims Subhash Chandra Debnath told agency today.
He added, "We have strong reasons to believe that ruling party lawmaker Anwar Hossain and local municipal chairman Rafiuddin Ahmed Ferdous, also an influential Awami League leader, and the party?s student front leader Ashrafur Rahman are behind the attempts of land grabbing."
Debnath's comments came as the mass circulation Jugantor newspaper and several other dailies today carried statements of the victims saying some 100 Hindu families at the Mathbaria sub-district of Pirozpur were passing days in fright as the politically influential quarters created a "reign of terror" to uproot them from the area.
Debnath and another local journalist Gautam Saha said during the past one and half years the "politically influential terrorists" set ablaze a shop owned by a Hindu resident, critically injured another member of the community, harassed several women and threatened several others if the pieces of lands were not handed over to them.
"An unholy quarter is involved in the process. They are very influential," Debnath said, adding that several Hindu families were planning to leave the country to take refuge in India while at least one Hindu family already migrated to the neighbouring country.
The allegations came as a judicial enquiry committee headed by a senior judge was recording statements of the particularly the minority people in the southwestern districts as they were exposed to identical repressions during the past Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led four party government with fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami being its key partner.
The repression on minority Hindus at that time sparked wide protests while the ruling Awami League of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had promised to expose the culprits of communal repression to justice in her election manifesto.
Economist and general secretary of Bangladesh Economic Association Abul Barakat in a study in 2007 found politically powerful people grabbed most of the land during the BNP-led regime from 2001 to 2006.
"Forty-five per cent of the land grabbers were affiliated with the BNP, 31 per cent with the Awami League, eight percent with Jamaat-e-Islami (main ally of the BNP-led coalition) and six per cent with the Jatiya Party and other political organisations," the study report read.
The incumbent government, however, enacted a law to return Hindu Property which were confiscated during the 1965 war between India and the then Pakistan, when Bangladesh was eastern wing of Pakistan.
The law is meant to redress the long-disputed law of the Pakistani era, which was widely criticised as a major violation of the minority rights.
During the Pakistan period, the law was called as Enemy Property Act.
According to a study conducted by a Dhaka University professor several years ago nearly 200,000 Hindu families lost approximately 40,667 acres of land since 2001 until the annulment of the Vested Property Act, considered a "black law".