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HRCBM Videos on destitute minorities of Bangladesh

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Chittagong Hill Tract Massace

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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hill people still victim of land grabbing: Larma

Source: The Daily Star News


Santu Larma

Chief of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity (PCJSS) Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma yesterday said Bangla speaking people from the plain land are still grabbing the lands of jummo (indigenous) people in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) under the shelter of a vested interest group.

Security personnel are maintaining dominance over the hilly areas in the name of peacekeeping while the people of CHT region are passing their days amidst insecurity, the PCJSS leader, who is popularly known as Santu Larma, said at 'freshers' reception' on the campus of Rangamati Government College.

He was addressing as chief guest at the event organised by the college unit of Pahari Chhatra Parishad (PCP), a student front of PCJSS, in the morning.

Referring to the government's decision to set up a university of science and technology and a medical college in Rangamati, Larma, also chairman of CHT Regional Council, said new problems will be created in CHT if those institutions are set up without considering whether CHT people want them.

"Many indigenous people were evicted due to the creation of Kaptai Dam. They lost their arable land and homesteads. The jummo people do not want to lose their lands any more," said the former guerrilla leader.

"During the 39 years of independence, we have failed to establish a progressive and democratic government in the country. And so, crime and corruption has grabbed the country and human right is being violated everywhere," he lamented.

Blaming the government for politicising all the three hill district councils in CHT, he said nowadays the poor people have hardly any scope to get help or assistance as the ruling party men are enjoying all the facilities from the organisations.

Suggesting the students to acquire knowledge from the outside environment alongside academic education to become worthy citizen, Larma called upon them to come forward for full implementation of the CHT deal.

Chaired by Dhiresh Chakma, a student and president of PCP Rangamati College unit, the function was also addressed, among others, by civil society leader Prakriti Ranjan Chakma, former PCP central president Udoyan Tripura, its central committee general secretary Sunirmol Dewan and district secretary Nitol Chakma.

Later, a band show programme was held at the college campus.

Generating awareness on minority rights with a play

Source: The Daily Star News


The play and performances aim to generate awareness and disseminate information among the mainstream communities about indigenous people and dalit groups.Photo: STAR

“Handi Kutum”, a play that aims to generate awareness on the rights of indigenous people and dalit, was staged at different villages under Sadar and Pirgonj upazila of Thakurgaon last Tuesday and Wednesday.

On Tuesday the play was staged at Matrigaon and Kaharpara villages under Sadar upazila. On Wednesday Bashmonipara and Azlabad villages witnessed the play.

Artistes of a cultural team, consisting of indigenous people, under the project 'Promotion of Rights for Indigenous And Dalits Improvement Programme' (PRODIP) staged the play.

Eco Social Development Organisation (ESDO) organised the programmes in association with HEKS Bangladesh with a view to develop awareness among the indigenous people and dalits about their rights.

The programme also aims to generate awareness and disseminate information among the mainstream communities about indigenous people and dalit groups, so that they can live harmoniously and uphold their traditions.

The play also addressed different social issues, including women's rights, necessity of education, health care, evils of drug abuse and early marriage.

The cast of the play included Chaina Ram Tirki, Rani Kujur, Kanchan Singh, Maggi Toppo, Rana Kujur, Ekka, Shuren Toppo and Shanchoy Miniz. Mohammad Shahin coordinated the play.

Earlier discussions were held at these venues where General Secretary of Pirgonj Upazila Adibashi Unnayan Forum, Dandu Mormu and human rights activists Mominur Rahaman Bishal, Mohammad Shahin, among others, spoke.

Bangladesh Hindu Buddha Christian Oikya Parishad leaders call on PM

Source: The New Nation

A delegation of Bangladesh Hindu Buddha Christian Oikya Parishad on Sunday called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the latter's office here.

The delegation members apprised the Prime Minister of various problems of the parishad, said Prime Minister's Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad after the meeting.

During the meeting, Sheikh Hasina gave them a patient hearing and assured them to look into the matters.

President of the Parishad Maj. Gen. (Retd) C R Dutta, Bir Uttam, led the delegation which was comprised of its General Secretary Rana Das Gupta, leaders of the parisad Adv Subrata Chowdhury, Shiril Sikder, Nirmal Chatterjee, Babul Devnath and Barrister Biplab Barua.

Among others, Secretary to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) Molla Waheeduzzaman and Prime Minister's Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad were present.

Later, another delegation of Bangladesh Buddha Christi Pracher Sangha, led by its President Sudhananda Mohathero, called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her office.

During the meeting, they invited the Prime Minister to attend the Lord Buddha statue installation ceremony at Kamalapur Buddha Bihar in the capital on February 23 next.

Sheikh Hasina accepted the invitation to attend the function. Mentioned that Thailand is sending the statue of the Lord Buddha to the Buddhist community in Bangladesh.

General Secretary of the organization Dr Pranab Barua, among others, were in the delegation.

Secretary to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) Molla Waheeduzzaman, Prime Minister's Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad and PM's Private Secretary Nazrul Islam Khan were present.

BJP bats for Bangla Hindus

Source: The Telegraph

Guwahati, Oct. 30: The Assam BJP took up the cause of displaced Bangladeshi Hindus at a daylong meeting held here today. It requested the government not to brand them as illegal migrants.

Though the party is against influx from Bangladesh, it classifies migrant Hindus as refugees. State BJP president Ranjit Dutta said the BJP's stand is that any Hindu who crossedover to Assam from Bangladesh is a refugee as they are victims of religious and political persecution. “We will oppose any move to brand such displaced Hindus living in Assam as illegal migrants,” he said.

Several senior state BJP leaders, including Kabindra Purkayastha and Rajen Gohain attended the meeting.

The BJP’s selective stand on the issue could snowball into a crisis since All Assam Students Union, Asom Gana Parishad — with which the party had an election tie-up— and other like-minded organisations are demanding deportation of illegal migrants as per Assam Accord irrespective of their religion or the language they speak._The BJP leaders who spoke at meeting held at Bishnu Nirmala Trust Auditorium at Latasil recalled that soon after independence, the Union government has assured unconditional citizenship to Hindus, who migrated to India (from Pakistan, including present Bangladesh) after Partition.

BJP MP from Guwahati Bijoya Chakraborty said that Hindus who have migrated to Assam from Bangladesh due to persecution should be considered as refugees as their condition is no different from those who migrated to India from West Pakistan after partition.

Several senior state BJP leaders, including Kabindra Purkayastha, Rajen Gohain and Mission Ranjan Das, among others also attended the meeting.

Top

BCL men vandalise Ramna temple, 3 held

Source: The Daily Star News

A group of Bangladesh Chhatra League activists vandalise two idols at Ramna Kali Mandir in the capital on Sunday over taking control of the shops. Photo: STAR

A group of Bangladesh Chhatra League activists vandalised two idols and several shops at Ramna Kali Mandir in the capital on Sunday over taking control of the shops.

Police arrested three activists of the BCL, the ruling party backed student organisation, from the spot and produced them before a Dhaka court.

Rezaul Karim, officer-in-charge of Shahbagh Police Station, said some 70 to 80 BCL activists of Utpal Shah group from Jagannath Hall, a Dhaka University dormitory specialised for the students from Hindu and Buddhist communities, vandalised two shops and the heads of two idols inside the temple around 12:30am.

Hearing the incidents, Shahbagh police rushed in and arrested Ananato Bhowmic, a first-year student of Sankskrita department, and Prakash, a master’s student of the same department, and Rimon Biswas, a second year student of Institute of Social Welfare and Research at the university.

Campus sources said activists of Utpal Shaha group vandalised the shops run by BCL central committee leader Hemonta Bepari and his friend Bipul for taking control of the shops there.

The police officer said Utpal group launched the attack following a conflict between him and Pankaj over getting posts in the temple maintaining committee, setting up the shops there and spreading unilateral hegemony in the temple area ahead of Kali Puja.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Ensure Dalit's rights in constitution: Demand speakers

Source: The Daily Star News

Speakers at a press conference yesterday demanded inclusion of a special provision in the constitution to ensure social security, citizen's rights and human dignity of the Dalit community.

They said Dalits are considered as the isolated community in the country and are victims of immense discrimination due to the absence of such a provision.

The provision is needed to ensure an end to all sorts of prejudice, they added.

The press conference was jointly organised by the Bangladesh Dalit and Excluded Rights Movement (BDERM) and Nagorik Uddyog at the Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU).

Addressing the press conference, Justice Gholam Rabbani stressed the need for inclusion of a special rule in the code of procedure to punish people behaving in a discriminatory manner with Dalit communities.

Rabbani suggested introduction of the rule with the provision of awarding 6 months to 3 years imprisonment to anyone putting impediments to Dalits from receiving education, treatment and other fundamental rights.

Reading out a written statement, BDERM President Mukul Sikder categorically demanded an end to social discrimination on grounds of caste and professions.

BDERM General Secretary Bodhanaki Shalomon said the Dalits are falling far behind in development because of social discrimination and deprivation.

Inclusion of the special provision and formulation of a necessary law is very essential to protect the just rights of Dalits, he added.

Their other demands include a constitutional declaration terming social discrimination against Dalits as a crime and to ensure equal opportunity for them in different government, non-government and autonomous institutions.

Nagorik Uddyog Chief Executive Jakir Hossain and Dalit Nari Forum President Moni Rani Das were present at the press conference.

Hindu priest killed in clash

Source: The Daily Star News

A Hindu priest was killed during a clash between the management committee of Shonai Kali Temple and its rival group at Nashibganj Bazar in Pirganj upazila on Thursday evening.

The deceased was identified as Shashi Mohan Barman, 70, priest of the temple.

Officer-in-Charge Abdul Hamid of Pirgonj Police Station said Shubhendranath Barman, vice-president of the temple management committee and son of the priest, went to Nashibgonj Bazar to collect contributions for upcoming Kali Puja.

A rival group of the committee led by Shontosh and his three accomplices came to the bazar and engaged in an altercation with Shubhendranath.

Shashi arrived at the spot just as the two groups started fighting and at one stage he was hit with a stick, leaving him dead on the spot.

On information, police recovered the body from the spot and sent it to the district sadar hospital yesterday for autopsy.

Shubhendranath filed a murder case with the police station yesterday accusing four people including Shontosh.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bike-riding stalker kills a mother

Source: The daily star


The mother (middle) of these four daughters paid dearly with her life for protesting stalking. Photo: Rezaul Karim

A motorbike-riding stalker ran over and killed a mother for protesting his harassing her two daughters in Madhukhali upazila here on Tuesday.

Deceased Chanpa Rani Bhowmik, 45, an employee of Faridpur Sugar Mill and wife of Swapan Biswas, was run over by Rony Saha, son of Ratan Saha of the upazila, police and relatives of the victim said.

Chanpa's killing came just three days after the sad demise of a Natore college teacher, Mizanur Rashid, who was similarly killed by stalkers riding on a bike on October 12.

Soma, one of her daughters, said Rony, aged about 21, ran her mother down near their house around 4:45pm when she came up to the road to see off some guests.

She succumbed to her injuries at Faridpur Medical College Hospital around 6:00pm.

The death of Chanpa Rani once again exposes the vulnerability of those protesting harassment of women.

Arun Kumar Bhowmik, Chanpa's brother, filed a murder case with Madhukhali Police Station in this connection yesterday. The case statement said Rony had been stalking and harassing his twin nieces -- Hira and Mukta -- for the last one year.

Faridpur Superintendent of Police Awlad Ali Fakir said the case was recorded as a murder case, since Rony ran over Chanpa.

Police, however, have yet to arrest the culprit, as he has gone into hiding. His stepmother told The Daily Star that he has not returned home since the incident.

Rony's father Ratan Saha, a liquor trader at west Garakhola in Modhukhali, is also hiding, locals said.

Faridpur Sugar Mill High School headmaster Shahid Hasan Md Atikul Haque said Hira and Mukta, candidates of the upcoming SSC examination, are very meritorious students. A few months ago Chanpa told him that Rony had been stalking her twin daughters and waylaying them with his bike.

Konok Hasan Masud, convener of an anti-stalking committee of the school, said Rony threatened Chanpa and her husband Swapan Biswas to pick up Hira to teach them a good lesson for their complaints and protest against him.

Swapan said Rony also threatened over the phone to kill him a few days ago.

Meanwhile, workers and employees of Faridpur Sugar Mill and students of Faridpur Sugar Mill High School blocked the Dhaka-Khulna highway for nearly half an hour protesting the death and demanding punishment of the “killer”.

They also demonstrated in front of the Madhukhali Upazila Parishad and formed a human chain in front of the sugar mill.

Workers and employees of the mill have threatened to go on a strike if Rony is not arrested within 24 hours.

Stalking of women has taken a turn for the worse with a growing number of people being killed for trying to resist the menace.

In last nine months, at least 25 women killed themselves to escape the horror of abuse, while nine males lost their lives for standing up against stalkers, says a report of rights group Ain O Salish Kendra.

During the same period, a father committed suicide, unable to withstand watching her daughter being humiliated.

Failure of the state and the society to protect women from stalking has led many young girls and, in some cases, parents to commit suicide.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bangladesh Harijans want quota in jobs

Source: SIFY News

Dhaka, Oct 23 (IANS) Members of Harijan communities in Bangladesh's southern port city of Barisal have asked for 80 percent reservation in the jobs such as sweepers and cleaners. The country is home to 1.5 million Harijans who were brought here during the British era from Maharastra and Andhra Pradesh in undivided India.

Around 6,000 community members are protesting the appointments of people from other communities as sweepers and cleaners, saying they have been the 'most neglected' lot of the society.

Harijans, widely termed as 'untouchables', have been living in appalling condition, being deprived of education, employment and housing, The Daily Star said Friday. Having participated in the country's freedom movement and separation from Pakistan has not improved their conditions. In jobs, they remain daily wage earners after years of working, their leaders say.

They continue to live in densely populated commercial and residential areas of the city without any sanitation, sewerage, drinking water, electric supply and education facilities.

'We do not have any land for permanent residence,' said Harijn leader Joyanta Kumar Das, secretary of the Barisal Harijan Oikkya Parishad.

The rate of literacy among Harijans of the city was less than 20 percent, said Laxman Lal, president of the Parishad.

'There is only one primary school for the Harijan community at Amir Kutir and admission of the Harijan children in other schools is often discouraged, Laxman said.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Minority women tortured by Superintendent of Bangladesh Police

A HINDU HOUSEWIFE PHYSICALLY TORTURED BY SUPERINTENDENT OF POLICE,
MADARIPUR DISTRICT OF BANGLADESH IN OFFICE ON THE MAHAASTAMI DAY OF
THE DURGAPUJA OCTOBER 15,2010.

HRCBM-Dhaka, 22 October2010 : Minority Housewife physically
tortured by Superintendent of Police, Madaripur district of Bangladesh
because she did not agree to withdraw case against perpetrators of
crime , revealed in a press conference (The Daily Jugantor dated 18th
of October, 2010, The Daily Janakantha dated 18th of October, 2010 and
The Daily Janata dated 20th October, 2010)

According to Uttam Banerjee of HRCBM-Madaripur Dist Unit , an
untoward incident of physical torture on a Hindu woman named
Ms.Shila Mullick wife of Bhupendra Nath Mullick of village –Aruakandi
of Rajoir police station within Madaripur District of Bangladesh on
21st of October, 2010. At about 11 A M .

It is learnt that the victim is neither an accused nor of any
offender in connection with any criminal offence in Bangladesh. She
went to office of Superintendent of Police, Madaripur to get proper
justice in connection with Rajoir P.S. case No. 08 dated 20.08.2010
under section 148/323/379/307/326/386/114 of Penal code filed by
herself alleging that offence of section 326/307/386 of penal code
against criminals had already been stricken by O.C. Rajoir P.S. with a
view to give impunity to the offenders of Rajoir P.S. case No.08 dated
20.08.2010. Before her meeting she was allowed to enter into the
Chamber of Mr. Sardar Tomizuddin Ahmed, S.P. after an hour waiting and
she was taken in to a solitary room for interrogation and during
interrogation she was physically tortured.

Mr.Sardar Tomizuddin Ahmed, S.P. of Madaripur District became angry
with Ms.Shila Mullick and put pressure on Shila to accede to withdraw
her case from the court against the perpetrators, but Ms.Shila refused
to withdraw the case filed earlier against the perpetrators
responsible for criminal intimidation, attempt to murder and torture
upon her husband. Sardar Tomizuddin (Telephone No. 01713373582 )
repeatedly tried to extract signatures from the victim with criminal
intimidation in presence of his junior police officers, but Ms.Shila
did not agree with the Superintendent of Police and as a result Mr.
Tomizuddin caught hold of her long tuft of hair firstly started to
beat by hands later he took a stick made of cane and started to beat
her mercilessly causing severe injuries on her left arm, neck and back
side of her body. (Sign of torture quite visible within the photograph
and medical report)

As Mr. Shila received severe injuries and could not take proper
treatment within Madaripur Distrtict for fear of life, she came to
Dhaka Medical College Hospital on 07.10.2010 and she was treated by
Dr. Sayed Amzad Ali, Dhaka Medical College Hospital and injury report
was obtained.

Ms. Shila made an appeal to Ms. Sahara Khatun, Minister for Home
Affairs, and Government of Bangladesh on 15.10.2010 but no action has
yet been taken against the Superintendent of Police responsible for
physical assault on women.

Ms.Shila also made a press conference at Dhaka and ventilated her
angry reaction and prayed for necessary protection of her life.

Dy Inspector General of Police will visit the place of occurrence
to-morrow, 23 October 2010.
HRCBM- Madaripur Dist Unit has been asked to keep in touch of the
development and informed the HRCBM-Dhaka as and when required.

Detailed report published in print media has been published. A press
Clipping of the daily Janakantha ( 18 Oct 2010 ) has been appended
alone with photograph of the victim Shela Mallick herewith for
necessary action .

Firsthand report submitted by HRCBM-Dhaka
Dated :22 October 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Chittagong Hill Tracts: Indigenous Rights To Be Protected By Constitution

Source: UNPO

Will the rights of Bangladesh’s indigenous peoples finally be recognized by the country’s constitution?

Below is an article published by Indigenous Portal:

Co-chairman of Special Parliamentary Committee for Constitution Amendment (SPCCA) Mr. Suranjit Sengupta, MP, said the rights of the indigenous community would be recognised incorporating their rights in the Constitution.

He was addressing as chief guest at the seminar on ‘Constitutional Recognition of the Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh, organised by Bangladesh Adivasi Forum with the support of Action Aid Bangladesh at CIRDAP auditorium in Dhaka.

Suranjit Sengupta also said that earlier, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told them to take it seriously when we discussed the issue with her. “I am impressed with the presence in this house; especially to see the movement that indigenous peoples have shaped successfully, at least intellectually. Now we have a good-chance to establish rights for all in the Constitution. We will incorporate the good things that were left out from the Constitution of 1972,” he said. He urged the indigenous community to place a draft to the SPCCA outlining the way they want their rights incorporated in the Constitution.

“The SPCCA will take decision about the recognition of the rights of the indigenous people in the Constitution,” Suranjit said. Bangladesh emerged through a bloody battle to establish the rights of the people not to deprive them, he said. He also urged the leaders of the indigenous community to continue their movement to materialise the dream of Manabendra Narayan Larma, the pioneer leader of the indigenous community.

In his speech, Hasanul Huq Inu, MP, and member of the SPCCA said, the issue of constitutional recognition of the indigenous community would be taken seriously. I personally as a member of the SPCCA and conscious citizen of the country support the demand for recognition of their rights in the Constitution, he added. ''Many high profile politicians do not want the indigenous people's constitutional recognition,'' he added.

Eminent columnist Syed Abul Maksud said that national recognition of the ethnic minority was logical as they were citizen of Bangladesh. He hoped that this government would take it seriously to establish secular order in the country.

Information Commissioner Prof. Dr Sadeka Halim said that indigenous peoples should be recognised in the constitution as ‘indigenous peoples’. He urged indigenous leaders to continue their movement and to put demands before the government as they want.

Prof Mesbah Kamal said with the constitutional recognition the spirit of Bangali nationality will not be undermined. ''We have to honour the emotion of the indigenous people who want their own identity, and the best way to honour their spirit is to give them constitutional recognition.''

General Secretary of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum Sanjeeb Drong presented the keynote paper while Robaet Ferdous moderated the seminar.

Publicity Secretary of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samity (PCJSS) urged the government to include a definition of indigenous community in the Article 152 of the Constitution, side by side to insert the rights to participation, identity, consent and self-government of indigenous peoples.

In his keynote paper, Sanjeeb Drong said that USA, Canada, Bolivia, Mexico, Brazil, Paraguay, Ecuador, Venezuela had recognised the rights of indigenous community in their Constitution. Not only constitutional recognition of their rights but also traditional land rights and ownership of territory were recongnised in the constitutions of these countries, he mentioned in his keynote paper. Drong mentioned the specific articles of the Constitution Article 3, 28(4), 59, 65(3a) and 80 to incorporate the term of indigenous community.

Among others general secretary of Jatiya Adivasi Parishad Rabindranath Soren and Action Aid country director Farhah Kabir spoke at the seminar.

It is mentionable that Manabendra Narayan Larma, founder of Parbatya Chattagra Jana Shanghati Samity, who was a member of the parliament in 1972, had opposed the original constitution since there was no mention about the indigenous community.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hindu MPs signed memo to Prime minister Sheikh Hasina to amend vested property return act

Source: Asian Tribune

From our diplomatic correspondent
Dhaka, 03 October , (Asintribune.com) :

A number of eminent personalities including 13 parliament members of minority community along with Bangladesh Hindu-Buddha-Christian Oikkya Parishad signed the memorandum with a 7-point demand and submitted to the prime minister’s office, seeking changes to ''Vested Property Return (amendment) Act'' in light of the Supreme Court verdict .

It may be mentioned here that the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in a judgment in 2006 said: “Since the law of enemy property itself died with the repeal of Ordinance No.1 of 1969 on 23 -3-1974 no further vested property case can be started thereafter on the basis of the law which is already dead. Accordingly, there is no basis at all to treat the case land as vested property upon started VP Case (58 DLR 2006 pp 177-185)

The Awami League Hindu lawmakers placed their other demands include a clear definition of vested property on the basis of Supreme Court's orders, return of all properties grabbed after 1974 and formation of tribunals at districts to dispose of the cases. The parishad General Secretary, Advocate Ranadas Gupta, handed the memorandum over to PM's personal secretary, said the daily star.

This is the first time in the history of independent Bangladesh, member of Parliament of minority community belonging to the ruling Awami League placed their 7-point coconscious demand.

A political analyst said , the minority community including Buddhist, Christians and Adibashis in Bangladesh participated in the War of Liberation so that in the newly liberated country we would enjoy equal status and rights along with the majority community. But in practice, the persecution of the Hindus continued like Pakistani days even after independence.

The forms of oppression of the religious minorities are manifold.

Constitutionally, we have been downgraded by introduction of Islam as State religion of Bangladesh; economically, we have been crippled through systematic discriminatory laws like Enemy turned Vested Property Act and unequal application of laws and practices; politically, we have been segregated and alienated from the mainstream rather we become stooge of so-called secularism.

The great Bengali Hindu race have been made a non-entity in different government institutions including army, police, judicial and administrative and non-government services like Bank and industries; we are under threat of conversion i.e. socially, culturally and observing religious rites, we are insecure.

The VP Act was practically declared void by promulgating ‘The Enemy Property (Continuance of Emergency Provisions) (Repeal) Act XLV in parliament on 23 March 1974.. But immediately afterwards another declaration named the Vested and Non-resident Property (Administration) Act XL VI of 1974 brought the above act into force. This Act was later amended on 27 November 1976 by the Enemy Property (Continuance of Emergency Provision) (Repeal) (Amendment) Ordinance 1976. The government, or any officer or authority as directed by the government, was empowered to administer, control, manage and dispose of, by transfer or otherwise the enemy property or enemy firms known as ‘vested property’.

The Government of Bangladesh has, within the framework of this law, taken possession of property declared to belong to the enemy, by appropriating the property of members of the Hindu minority who had migrated to India, or by appropriating the property of people who were heirs or co –owners.

Since then the issue has been rolling with ordinances, amendments, circulars, memos, and committee and so on. But no tangible action has yet been taken by the Government to solve the contentious issue of minority Hindus. Though renamed as the Vested Property Act in 1974, the law still retains the fundamental ability to deprive a Bangladeshi citizen of his/her property simply by declaration of that person as an enemy of the state.

Leaving the country through abandonment is cited as the most common reason for this, and it is frequently the case that Hindu families who have one or several members leaving the country (for economic as well as political reasons) have their entire property confiscated due to labeling as enemy. So, the properties which have been included under VPA since 23 March 1974 should be immediately exempted and returned those property to the legal owners.

Awami League leader Suranjit Sengupta MP said enactment of the Vested Property Return (Amendment) Act might be delayed for an indefinite period unless its bill is placed in the next parliament session.

Suranjit, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on law ministry, said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina postponed its tabling in the parliament although the cabinet approved the bill last November2009.

The prime minister did this because of her belief that different opinions exist among the Hindu community leaders on the draft act, he added. "There exist differences and there will. But it should not cause delay in the bill placement," Suranjit said at a discussion in last month.

Suranjit, senior politician and lawmaker since independent Bangladesh, said the parliamentary standing committee is there to look at the amendments if necessary and will make it ready for placement in the parliament.

If the bill is sent back to the ministry for another drafting, vested quarters are ready to take opportunities to impose tangle, he said. The vested property, which was termed enemy property before the Liberation War in 1971, was left behind by the Hindus during the 1947 partition and the India-Pakistan war in 1965.

The government took the properties' ownership by enacting the enemy property act after independence in 1971, and renamed the law as the Vested Property Act in 1974.

The law still retains the fundamental ability to deprive a Bangladeshi citizen of his/her property simply by declaring them as enemies of the state. Properties of Hindu families that left the country have been confiscated as they were labeled as state enemy, reported the daily star.

It may be recalled that Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities (HRCBM), an NGO possessing special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, has by its Bangladesh Chapter's Secretary General Mr Rabindranath Trivedi, who is an ex additional secretary to the Government of Bangladesh, filed a writ petition on 10 August 2008 to the High Court Divisions of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh on the complete abolishment of Vested Property Act.

Former Deputy Attorney General Barrister Nikhilesh Dutta and Senior Advocate S N Goswami moved the case for the petition and Deputy Attorney General Mr Razik Al Jali for the respondents. The Government has not yet replied.

Bangladesh Hindus have lost 22 lakh acres of their land and houses during the last six years (2001-2006), 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,

- Asian Tribune -

Ethnic minorities facing diverse challenges

Source: The Daily Star News


Photo: Munir uz Zaman/ Drik News

Extreme poverty is common in Bangladesh, but the experiences of the different groups of people who live with it are not all the same. We must not forget that while there are common characteristics of life in extreme poverty, some groups of people face very specific challenges to their ability to live with security and dignity.

Policy-makers and the public alike need to be sensitive to these differences when considering how to help "the extreme poor," and must avoid lumping these divergent experiences together.

The extremely poor non-Bengali (other terms include "ethnic minority" or adivasi) population of Bangladesh are a case in point. Their experiences of life at the very bottom differ a good deal from their Bengali counterparts, and they face particular challenges in escaping the vicious cycle of extreme poverty and marginalisation. As such, empowering adivasi people to lift themselves out of poverty will require a tailored set of policies designed to address their specific constraints.

Exactly this kind of nuanced approach to development policy-making should be at the heart of the government's Millennium Development commitment to the eradication of extreme poverty by 2015.

Trouble with jobs

Most extremely poor households face job worries, due to things like seasonal changes in demand for agricultural day labour. For adivasi people, this insecurity is made worse by the fact that they are often paid less than Bengali labourers for the same work -- while adivasi women are paid at a lower rate again. As a result, adivasi households and particularly those that are headed by women are vulnerable to the effects of fluctuations in labour demand and health shocks. This desperate situation forces many adivasi to sell their labour in advance -- for an even lower rate -- during the lean seasons, and work for longer hours just to feed their families.

Migration pressures

For many extremely poor people, a lack of jobs forces migration to find work in neighbouring areas, with some even taking temporary residence in other districts and sending money back to the household.

Adivasi workers tend to migrate less than their Bengali counterparts because of worries -- based on past experiences of discrimination -- that if they leave their living place to find work, their land or homestead might be occupied by others illegally and they might end up homeless.

Certain cultural beliefs also play a part; namely that their ancestors lie with them in their homestead so that if they leave their home the ancestors will be displeased and migrants will suffer dire consequences. This means extremely poor adivasis are less able to move to find better wages, making their situation even more perilous.

Challenges at school

In general, educational facilities for the extreme poor are limited and of poor quality. This has prompted recent efforts from the government, NGOs and missionaries to make primarily education comparatively more accessible. However, children from extremely poor adivasi families face different barriers in school.

Government primary schools use Bangla as the language of instruction, English is also taught, but there are rarely primary school provisions for instruction in any adivasi language, making it difficult for adivasi children to compete at school in Bangla with their Bengali classmates.

Coupled with existing social and cultural differences between adivasi and Bengali, a disproportionately high number of adivasi children are illiterate, leading to high drop-out rates among adivasi children, thereby increasing the likelihood of low wages in adulthood.

Political barriers

Finally, extremely poor adivasi communities face distinct political barriers to their development. While the extreme poor across Bangladesh rarely attain significant positions in local-level politics and power structures, the adivasi are particularly affected by political marginalisation. Even in areas where they make up a reasonable proportion of the population, they generally struggle to compete for political representation, lacking the necessary money, education, experience and political networks.

While in recent years, some adivasi leaders (for example in the Barind Tract region) are coming forward to run in Union Parishad elections -- with the support of some NGOs and Christian Missions -- this is not enough to ensure the needs of the most vulnerable adivasi are mainstreamed in the local political agenda.

The "extreme poor" are not all alike

Thinking of the extreme poor as a homogenous group of needy citizens for whom there is simple set of possible development interventions does a disservice to the variation in experiences of groups in extreme poverty.

The specific challenges facing adivasi people in extreme poverty remind us of the importance of policy-making that is nuanced and sensitive to the particular social and economic constraints of different groups. At least for those extremely poor adivasi people, policies designed to link them to the mainstream of Bangladesh's development initiatives will be fundamental for them to lift themselves out of extreme poverty.

Hasina extols secularism amid sectarian violence

Source: Daily Times

* Bangladeshi PM says secularism one of four main pillars of constitution

* Six cops suspended for attacking Hindu devotees


DHAKA: Even as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed extols the virtues of secularism and thanks her law enforcement agencies for ensuring a peaceful environment, there are reports of attacks on Puja mandaps across Bangladesh.

Hasina has said that everyone in Bangladesh is at liberty to practice his or her religion. “Secularism is one of the four main pillars of our constitution and it sounds hollow if people cannot practice their religions,” she said during her visit to the Dhakeshwari Temple.

She was greeted with flowers by leaders of the Hindu community. Her comments came amid reports on the same day that six cops were suspended in Sunamganj for attacking Hindu devotees at a Puja celebration. Another police sub-inspector was withdrawn for burning a festoon bearing an image of the goddess Durga.

In Narayanganj, 15 drunkards attacked a Puja pavilion. Police later arrested two of them. Hasina said, “Peace is the central message of all religions. We are working towards achieving that goal.” She went on to say that when her government took over the administration, it was beset with many problems and that they were trying to address them.

The prime minister quoted lines from the Sura-e-Kafirun, which recognises people’s right to religion. She added that Bangladeshis observe a number of festivals throughout the year and that her government is trying to create a peaceful environment to ensure proper atmosphere for their celebrations.

Hasina pointed out that this year, the main Hindu festival, Durga Puja, is being celebrated peacefully like the Eidul-Fitr. She thanked law enforcers for their efforts to maintain a peaceful atmosphere. “A harmonious environment has been created. We’ve people of all religions visiting the Puja pavilions and taking part in the festivities. This is Bangladesh,” Hasina added.

Violence mars Durga Puja festivities in Bangladesh

Source: IANS

Dhaka, Oct 17 (IANS) Attacks by drunken mobs and even policemen on Hindu devotees and Durga Puja marquees in many parts of Bangladesh marred the festivities of the country's minority community even as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina stressed on the virtues of secularism.

Reports of violence came from across the country as the biggest religious festival of the minority Hindu community ended Sunday.

The authorities withdrew policemen and closed down a police station after cops were found attacking Puja Mandaps, the makeshift bamboo-and-cloth marquees erected for the festival at some places, bdnews24.com, a newspaper website reported.

In Narayanganj, just outside Dhaka, two people were arrested for vandalism, loot and attack on a Puja pavillion at Tanbazaar.

Witnesses said at least 10 people were injured when around 15 drunk men attacked Hindus devotees, who were dancing at a pavilion in Minabazar area of Tanbazar early Saturday.

They stabbed organising secretary of the Puja celebration committee of the area, Ankan Saha Rana, 35, and member Sumon Das, 24, when they attempted to stop the drunks.

In Sunamganj in northeastern Bangladesh, six policemen including a sub-inspector were withdrawn from a police station for attacking devotees at a temple in Tahirpur Upazila (sub-district).

A sub-inspector of Sherpur Sadar Police Station in central Bangladesh was withdrawn to the police lines for burning a festoon with the image of goddess Durga.

Acting Superintendent of Police (Sherpur) Mohammad Anisur Rahman said legal steps will be taken against Badruzzaman, the sub-inspector.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina stressed on virtues of secularism and said her country was 'non-communal' while speaking at a function hosted by Hindus in the national capital Saturday.

Hasina said that 27,000 Durga Puja mandaps or marquees were erected across the country this year, the highest ever. Similarly, 94,000 Muslims were proceeding on Haj to Saudi Arabia, which was also the highest, denoting freedom to practice different faiths.

'Secularism is one of the four pillars of the country's constitution and has no meaning if people cannot practice their religions,' she said during her visit to the Dhakeshwari Temple Saturday, which marked the Mahanabami, a high point of the Hindu festival.

But the New Age newspaper said: 'Even as the prime minister speaks of secularism and thanks her law enforcers for ensuring a peaceful environment, there are reports of attacks, even by cops, on puja mandaps across the country.'

Attacks on devotees in Bangladesh condemned

By TCN News,

New Delhi: South Asian Council for Minorities (SACM) has condemned the attacks on the devotees and vandalism during Durga Pooja festival in Bangladesh on Saturday 16th of October.

Reportedly Durga Pooja, the festival of Hindus, country’s minority community was marked by several attacks by drunken mobs and even policemen on Hindu devotees and the Pooja mandaps. Several members of the minority community were injured in these attacks.

Condemning the incident, Navaid Hamid, secretary, SACM, said that the “attacks on devotees need to be condemned by all those, including the civil society of Bangladesh, who believe in the sanity and peaceful co-existence of followers of different faiths in a democratic setup”

He expressed his concerns at the fact that even “some policemen and security personnel have attacked the members of the Hindu minority community… in different parts of Bangladesh which has left scores of people seriously injured, frightened and terrorized.”

Mr. Hamid hoped that Bangladesh would take strongest measures against the culprits in order to instill confidence in the minorities in the country.

South Asian Council for Minorities (SACM) is a platform of human rights activists working for the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities in South Asia