Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Requesting Generous Donation for Ma Manasha Temple Construction in Patuakhali district of Bangladesh

Devotees are building Ma Manasha temple in the heart of patuakahli town of Bangladesh. Please help generously to finish temple construction and get Ma's blessings. For donation and more information about temple please contact Sri Amal Karmakar at his email address amal_karmakar@yahoo.com.


Thursday, 25 July 2013

Don’t deport Hindus who flee Bangladesh: PIL

TNN | Jul 26, 2013, 04.33 AM IST
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday sought responses of the Centre and 18 states to a PIL which pleaded that Hindus migrating to India to escape religious persecution in Bangladesh must not be bracketed with other illegal migrants and pushed back or deported.

The PIL by NGO "Swajan" through advocate Shuvodeep Roy has been knocking at the doors of the apex court since August last year. It had only focused on Assam, terming the problem as peculiar to it.

However, a bench of Justices P Sathasivam (as he then was) and Ranjan Gogoi had told Roy to do more research on the issue saying the problem of Hindus coming from Bangladesh into India was not confined only to the northeastern state.

Nearly nine months later, counsel for the NGO, senior advocates MN Krishnamani and Pinky Anand, told the bench of Chief Justice Sathasivam and Justice Gogoi that the court was right in its assessment and that the problem was spread over 18 states.

The petitioner said those who migrated to India from Pakistan, both east and west, after partition were treated as displaced persons, settled in various states and later granted citizenship. It asked why the same principle was not being applied to Hindus fleeing Bangladesh.

"In the past, refugees from Tibet, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Myanmar and Chakmas from Bangladesh have been settled in Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura and other states. The government of India has consistently followed the policy of not repatriating refugees without engaging with the country of their origin and ensuring the safety of their life and property in the respective country of their origin," the petitioner said.

The NGO said it would be wrong to condemn Hindus fleeing Bangladesh to escape religious persecution as 'illegal migrants' and pushed back into no-man's land on the India-Bangladesh border, rendering them stateless and left in precarious condition.

"What is alarming is that there is also no formal agreement, treaty etc with Bangladesh for repatriation/rehabilitation of the 'displaced persons'. Bangladesh does not even own up these unfortunate persons and as a result they have nowhere and no one to turn to," it said.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

We condemn attack on Hindus by Awami League leader Emdad Ali

Awami League leader Emdad Ali and his 100-150 followers  attacked a Hindu colony and destroyed 8-10 houses in Muktagacha of Mymensingh district of Bangladesh according to The Daily Sambad (24th July 2013, http://www.sangbad.com.bd). Mr Emdad Ali is the president of Bashati Union Awami League branch. The houses belong to Sri Nirmal Chandra and his relatives. Police did not arrest the thugs Emdad Ali and his associates yet.
We demand their immediate arrest and strong punishment so next time nobody will dare to torture Hindus and innocent people in future. We also demand enough compensation for the victims. 

India-Bangla Relations - Can be more than Bilateral

Dated 22-Jul-2013

By Bhaskar Roy
Bangladesh Foreign Minister Ms. Dipy Moni will be in New Delhi on July 25, 2013 on a three day visit.  It is expected to be a preparatory one paving the way for Prime Minister Sk. Hasina’s official visit in August at the invitation of the Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh.
Ms. Dipu Moni is well regarded in India for her professionalism, and promoting Bangladesh both with India and internationally.  This time, however, she has a difficult job because detractors and critics back home are focussed more on difficult issues than on the doables and what is being done.
At the end, however, it is not Ms. Dipu Moni, but Prime Minister Sk. Hasina who will be questioned by the opposition on two important issues – Teesta river water agreement and ratification by India of the 1974 Indira-Mujib land boundary accord.
General elections in Bangladesh is less than six months away.  The political situation within the country is not exactly stable currently because of other issues.  But the bottom line in foreign relations for the Bangladeshi opposition from the very beginning of the Awami League led government has been anti-Indianism.  The opposition led by the BNP and its Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia and partner Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) saw everything wrong with the new initiatives in India-Bangla cooperation.  Their position reflected late Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto’s impassionate rant that, “Pakistan will have the (nuclear) bomb even if we have to eat grass”.
Bangladesh has been especially fortunate where quality manpower is concerned.  The women of Bangladesh who come out and work against Wahabi and Salafi Islamic interpretation of Islam which the JEI and their allies are trying to impose on women, earn the bulk of the country’s foreign exchange in the garment industry which these obscurantist’s feed on.
For Islamist fundamentalists like the JEI who dream of creating an Islamic Emirate of Bangladesh much after the Taliban model, and also want to establish a federal relationship with Pakistan, India is anathema.  India is seen by them as a Hindu country, and responsible for breaking up Pakistan in 1971.
The BNP generally follows a pro-Pakistan and anti-India line, and is willing to hunt with the JEI.  Reports are coming out, (though not doubly corroborated) that the late President Zia-ur-Rehman, who fought against the Pakistan army in the 1971 war of liberation, was a deep plant of the Pakistani army.  Existing evidence is that Zia as President of Bangladesh cleared the black listed JEI to resume political activities in Banlgadesh despite their anti-liberation role in the freedom struggle.  He also helped bring back JEI Amir Golam Azam to Bangladesh after Sk. Mujibur Rahman’s assassination in 1975.  There is more on Zia.
As Prime Minister Sk. Hasina prepares to come to New Delhi, the opposition has tried to divide the nation into believers in Islam and “non –believers”.  The secularists like those engaged in the Shahbag movement (Pro janmo chatter) are labelled by them as anti-Islamist.
The opposition is tending to a position where anyone who opposes Sharia law is anti-Muslim.  And they have succeed to a significant extent.  The Hifazat-e-Islam Bangladesh was created and funded by the JEI and BNP for this purpose.
Prime Minister Sk. Hasina calls the shots in the Awami League’s “great alliance” government.  From past experience she must understand that giving these right wing forces “an inch” will allow them to extract a “mile”, and the young people who support her and her secular politics will be dismayed and weakened.
It is amazing, however, that Sk. Hasina did not prevaricate for a moment to bring the 1971 war criminals to justice.  She even put aside the trials on the assassination attempts on her life to bring to justice the assassins of her nation.  In that sense she is her father’s daughter – self last, nation first.
Sk. Hasina is coming to India with the enormous burden of a million knives out for her.  She still has to fight foreign forces who want her out.
Hence, what can Sk. Hasina get from India, and what can India give her to take back, given the fact that both she and Indian stand almost at the same place?  India’s stated foreign policy is that the government of India is a friend of the Bangladesh people and wants to help them to develop in tandem.  But today, India has some issues which include wide security interests.  It may be recalled the BNP-JEI led four party alliance government (from 2000 – 2005) did everything to assist anti-India separatists and terrorists.  Even then, India was patient.
To start with, Prime Minister Sk. Hasia promised to eradicate terrorism from the soil of Bangladesh and support all counter terrorism efforts.  She kept her promise against all odds.  India is especially grateful to her and her government.  But to subdue Islamic terrorism totally is a very difficult task.  Terrorists have solid support inside Bangladesh, and support from outside too.  Some major anti-terrorism powers view Islamist right wingers in a different political angle and project that they are not anti-Muslim.  At least, India-Bangladesh cooperation against this variety of terrorism will help both countries.
The Teesta water deal is undoable at the moment.  West Bengal Chief Minister Ms. Mamata Bannerjee, who pulled the rug on this agreement in 2011, is in no mood to cooperate with the central government.  The boundary agreement can be taken to the next level if the Indian political parties agree to amened the constitution on the overall border territory issue.  It can perhaps, be done in the monsoon session of parliament starting August 05, 2013.
But there are other areas of cooperation moving forward which need to be explained to the people of Bangladesh.  There is very little reference in the Bangladesh media to the one billion Indian aid to Bangladesh at the lowest interest rate.  Of this 200 million has been converted into a grant.  India has given duty free access to all 46 categories of garments manufactured by Bangladesh.  The Bangladesh garment industry is only second to that of China’s, and India is also a garment exporter.  India’s policy will help Bangladesh’s garment industry to an extent after the US and the European Union imposed restrictions on Bangladeshi importers.
According to the Land Port Sub-committee Chairman of Indo-Bangladesh Chamber Matiar Rahman of Bangladesh, opening of multiple visas has facilitated many Bangladeshi traders, and movement of Bangladeshi medical patients to India for treatment.  This has also facilitated tourism between the two countries and people-to-people contact.  Traditionally, India remains a destination for Bangladeshi students, and this is poised to improve.
A critical element in Bangladesh’s economy in the social sector is the huge shortfall in power.  Indian supply of 250mw of power should be implemented in September, this year.  It is not a huge amount of electricity but every bit helps.  There are opponents to this in Bangladesh on the inexplicable grounds that the power will be purchased from “India”!  Such narrow minded attitude from a small group of educated Bangladeshi politicians, intellectuals and media has held hostage a number of development projects which could help boost the Bangladeshi economy and create jobs.  These projects include the India proposed land corridor and in the sector of sea ports.
Geographically, Bangladesh has an advantageous location.  It shares land boundaries with both India and Myanmar as a gateway between South Asia and South East Asia.  India is already working on connectivity with Myanmar (the Kaladan multi purpose project) and on to Thailand.  From here, other countries in the region like Vietnam are looking forward to the new Asian trade route.  Bangladesh could be accommodated.
The other project on the board of discussion is the Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar (BCIM) economic, trade and tourism quadrangle.  When the new Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited India earlier this year he supported this project.  It is still a work in the making, but has potential.
Similarly, full connectivity from Nepal and Bhutan to Bangladesh through India is waiting to happen.  Power from Nepal and Bhutan can be transmitted through Indian territory.  Unfortunately though, road blocks are always put up.  There is huge potential in an India-Bangla partnership.  Dhaka can ride piggy back on India to beyond a bilateral relationship. 
All these, however, needs mutual trust.  No major Indian political party is against developing relations with Bangladesh.  There are certain questions which need to be ironed out and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is already on the job.
But from the JEI and the BNP, however, India is perceived as the enemy that broke Pakistan, and not as the country which helped create an independent Bangladesh.  Even Pakistan is beginning to change its attitude towards India, save for the ISI and right-wing religious parties.
India-Bangladesh relations will be dogged till these anti-Indian political parties can exorcize these ghosts and devils from their genes.
Given some mindsets existing in Bangladesh towards India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has a huge task on his hands, and so do other political parties in India like the BJP and, especially, West Bengal Chief Minister Ms. Mamata Bannerjee.  To repeat, with general elections less than six months away in Bangladesh, it is the moral responsibility of India to ensure that Bangladesh remains a secular and democratic country, devoid of the cancer of terrorism, and a responsible power in the region.
(The writer is a New Delhi based Strategic Analyst.  He can be reached at e-mail grouchohart@yahoo.com)

Friday, 12 July 2013

Bangladesh General Elections 2014: A Preview

Dated 12-Jul-2013

By Dr. Subhash Kapila

Bangladesh is expected to go to the polls for its General Elections with the term of the current Ninth Parliament on January 24, 2014. The present Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina came into power in January 2009 after Bangladesh had gone through a spell of two years (2006-2008) of a Caretaker Government.

Bangladesh forthcoming General Elections are a matter of intense focus as the political turbulence commencing in January 2013 in the wake of sentencing of the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami leaders to death and life imprisonment on charges of war crimes related to Bangladesh Liberation War were announced sent out conflicting portents.

The Shahbagh Awakening in the wake of War Criminal Trials judgements witnessed a virtual violent struggle for Bangladesh’s national identity between the nations’ younger generation and the followers of Islamist parties combine led by the Jamaat.

 It was heartening to note that Bangladesh’s Generation X vociferously demanding stiffer sentences for the 1971 war criminals accused of atrocities against their own people in collusion and collaboration with the rapacious Pakistan Army engaged in an ethnic genocide in East Pakistan then. Generation X was also demanding a banning of the Jamaat-e-Islami in Bangladesh

Contrastingly, the Jamaat combine supporters’ unleashed violent disturbances as if in a last-ditch battle to prevent Bangladesh moving towards stabilising into a moderate democratic Islamic Republic.

Attempting the preview of the forthcoming General Elections in Bangladesh would briefly require the consideration of the historical patterns of Bangladesh electoral politics, Bangladesh’s contextual political dynamics, and the India Factor as an issue in Bangladesh General Elections.

In terms of historical patterns political power has alternated between the two main rival political parties, namely, the Awami League led by Sheikh Hasina and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party led by Begum Khaleda Zia. Going by this, what appears to be a set pattern, the General Elections 2014 portend that Begum Zia should be coming into power in Dhaka. But then there are other imponderables that come into play which will be discussed a little later.

Bangladesh’s contextual political dynamics cannot be said to follow set historical patterns except that the unremitting hostility between Begum Hasina and Begum Zia continues as a constant and is likely to acquire sharper contours in the run-up to General Elections 2014. This arises from Begum Zia’s and the BNP combine demanding that the system of a Caretaker Administration be restored before General Elections are held.

It needs to be recalled that the system of Caretaker Administration was dispensed by the AL Government by a Constitutional Amendment (15th Amendment) arising from a Court judgement pronouncing the system as unconstitutional.

Speculation exists that the BNP may refuse to take part in the General Elections provoking a political crisis of the political legitimacy of General Elections 22014 which may be frowned upon by Bangladesh’s international supporters.

More than the above the factor which may heavily overweigh Bangladesh electoral dynamics is that the main ally of the BNP’s 18 Party electoral alliance is the Jamaat-e-Islami party whose top leaders stand convicted in the War Crimes Tribunal.  Association by guilt may perceptionaly count heavily with Bangladesh Generation X voting patterns that spearheaded the Shahbagh Awakening protests calling for stiffer court sentences for War Criminals. They would not be oblivious to the Jamaat being the main political ally of the BNP -led Alliance.

The India Factor has always figured as a political issue in Bangladesh politics and in Bangladesh Elections. India has not done much to solve outstanding irritants in India-Bangladesh relations like the Teesta Water’s sharing dispute, exchange of enclaves and border tensions between the border security forces of both countries.

However, in an indication as to in which directions political winds are blowing in Bangladesh, India seems to have widened its political bets by outreaches to the BNP leader Begum Zia and Lt. Gen. (Retd) Ershad heading the Jatiyo Party.

Begum Zia was invited for a visit to India this year and reports suggest that India got assurances that BNP would not adopt any hard-line posturing on India in the coming General Elections or in the event of assuming power.

As per one Bangladesh newspaper, General Ershad claims that India’s premier intelligence agency RAW backs him and that Indian funds would be funnelled to him.

However both these developments lie in the field of imponderables and cannot be counted as firm indicators that these two political leaders would adopt changed stances on India especially in a much surcharged political environment in Bangladesh in the run-up to Bangladesh General Elections 2014.

In such a surcharged election year conspiracy theories abound abundantly. The more prominent is that the Jamaat-e-Islami is likely to align with the ruling Awami League in return for guarantees of leniency against its top leaders involved in War Crimes trials thereby robbing the BNP of one of its key allies. Indicators cited to this end are that the Government has appointed weak prosecutors now for the trials.

The other conspiracy theory is that should the political impasse between the AL and BNP reach a dead-end impasse and the resultant political violence that will be attendant thereon, the Bangladesh Army may intervene to provide a Caretaker Administration until the impasse is resolved.
It is being aired that the ruling AL may prefer such an intervention as against an outright BNP victory in which case political vendettas against AL leaders are feared.

Lastly in terms of Bangladesh political dynamics what need to be brought out are the recent trends in local Mayoral election just about five months before the General Elections. Indicative of dissatisfaction with incumbent AL leaders heading Corporations, the AL has lost Chittagong, Narayanganj and Commilla. Reports also indicate AL losses in Barisal, Khulna, Rajshahi and Sylhet.

Concluding, in a preview of the forthcoming Bangladesh General Elections one can state that there are no clashes of grand ideologies of the two major political parties but a clash of the two dominating personalities of Bangladesh politics, namely the two Begums and the clash of their two political wills. Islamist contours are added to this clash as the BNP headed by Begum Zia has in its 18 member Alliance is dominated by Islamist political parties with limited political weight but great weight in providing disruptive force in complicating democratic elections. In terms of a clearer picture of new political realignments that may emerge one would have to await the panning out of Bangladesh political dynamics as the dates for General Elections inch closer.

(Dr. Subhash Kapila is Consultant International Relations & Strategic Affairs with South Asia Analysis Group. He can be reached at <drsubhashkapila.007@gmail.com)

Source: http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/node/1316

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Protest Rally in Bhola Against Temple Destruction, Bhola, Bangladesh

Achinta Majumder from Bhola.
Hindu communities organised a protest march and meeting against Muslim thugs and their godfather who destroyed temple and assaulted priest in Lord Hardinge village of Lalmohon upazilla of Bhola district. The destruction happened on 31st May 20113.
Temple priest Sri Kiran Chandra Das alleged that same thugs looted Hindu houses and raped many after 2001 election. He demanded punishment for the perpetrators. He also alleged that by doing this looters trying to grab Hindu properties. Police arrested Riaz, Mobatak and Jasim so far.
Hindus protest against temple destruction by Muslim thugs in Bhola, Bangladesh

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Enemy Property Act (Bangladesh)


Vested Property Act (Bangladesh)

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Vested Property Act is a controversial law in Bangladesh that allows the Government to confiscate property from individuals it deems as an enemy of the state. Before the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, it was known as the Enemy Property Act and is still referred to as such in common parlance. The act is criticized as a tool for appropriating the lands of the minority population.


Legal history
This law is the culmination of several successive discriminatory laws against non-Muslims passed while Bangladesh was part of Pakistan.

Chronologically, they are:
The East Bengal (Emergency) Requisition of Property Act (XIII of 1948)
The East Bengal Evacuees (Administration of Property) Act (VIII of 1949)
The East Bengal Evacuees (Restoration of Possession) Act (XXII of 1951)
The East Bengal Evacuees (Administration of Immovable Property) Act (XXIV of 1951)
The East Bengal Prevention of Transfer of Property and Removal of Documents and Records Act of 1952
The Pakistan (Administration of Evacuees Property) Act (XII of 1957)
The East Pakistan Disturbed Persons (Rehabilitation) Ordinance (No 1 of 1964)
The Defence of Pakistan Ordinance (No. XXIII of 6 September 1965)
The Defence of Pakistan Rules of 1965
The Enemy Property (Custody and Registration) Order of 1965
The East Pakistan Enemy Property (Lands and Buildings Administration and Disposal Order of 1966)
The Enemy Property (Continuance of Emergency Provision) Ordinance No. 1 of 1969
Bangladesh (Vesting of Property and Assets) President's (Order No. 29 of 1972)
The Enemy Property (Continuance of Emergency Provisions) (Repeal) Act (XLV of 1974)
The Vested and Non-Resident Property (Administration) Act (XLVI of 1974)
The vested and Non-Resident (Administration) (Repeal) Ordinance 1976 The Ordinance, (No. XCII of 1976)
The Ordinance No. XCIII of 1976.

On 6 November 2008, the High Court division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh delivered its Rule Nisi upon the Government on the Enemy Property (Continuance of Emergency Provision) (Repeal) Act 1974 and subsequently promulgated Arpita Sampatty Protapyan Ain 2001 and circular, administrative orders.

The order calls upon the respondent to show cause as to why instructions issued in the contents of presidential order 29 of 1972, act 45 and 46 of 1974, ordinance No. 92, 93 of 1976, Arpita Sampatty Protapyan Ain 2001 and circulars issued by government that are in contradiction with the fundamental rights and the charter of declaration of Independence of Bangladesh, 10 April 1971, should not be declared to be ultra vires the constitution.The Rule Nisi also stated why the properties so far incorporated in the list as Enemy (Vested) property should not be returned to the title holder/successor/legal possession holders and or such other or further order or orders passed as to this Court may seem fit and proper.The Rule is made returnable within 4 weeks from 28 October 2008.

Renamed as Vested Property Act

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 (due to religious atrocities against Hindus, and economic as well as political reasons) have their entire property confiscated due to labeling as enemy.

Measurable impact

Newspaper reports
The Bangladeshi newspaper Daily Sangbad (21 March 1977) alleged that at that point in time, according to the government's own figures, 702,335 acres (2,842 km²) of cultivable land and 22,835 homes were listed as enemy property.

Prominent cases

Much of the property of murdered Hindu politician Dhirendranath Datta was confiscated by the Bangladesh government after independence in 1971. Because Datta's body was never found after he was arrested by the Pakistan Army during the Bangladesh Liberation War, an affidavit was brought forward that it could not be concluded that Datta had not voluntarily left the country.

The family property of Nobel Prize winning economist Amartya Sen had been confiscated by the Pakistan government. In 1999, the Bangladesh government announced that it was investigating opportunities to return the property to Sen's family.

Professor Barkat's seminal work

A seminal work was published in 1997 by Professor Abul Barkat of Dhaka University, 'Inquiry into Causes and Consequences of Deprivation of Hindu Minorities in Bangladesh through the Vested Property Act'. This demonstrated that 925,050 Hindu households (40% of Hindu families in Bangladesh) have been affected by the Enemy Property Act. This included 748,850 families dispossessed of agricultural land. The total amount of land lost by Hindu households as a result of this discriminatory act was estimated at 1.64 million acres (6,640 km²), which is equivalent to 53 per cent of the total land owned by the Hindu community and 5.3 per cent of the total land area of Bangladesh.

The survey also showed that the beneficiaries of the land grab through the act cut across all party lines. The political affiliation of direct beneficiaries of appropriated property was:
Others 13.5%

The greatest appropriation of Hindu property took place immediately after independence during the first Awami League government (1972–75) and during the first period of rule of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (1976-1980). Dr Barkat's work also showed that since 1948, 75% of the land of religious minorities in East Pakistan and subsequent Bangladesh had been confiscated through provisions of the act.

Dr Barkat also emphasized that less than 0.4% of the population of Bangladesh has benefited from the Enemy Property Act, demonstrating that this law has been abused by those in power through corruption, with no demonstrated sanction by the population at large.

Effect on Bangladeshi demographics
The law in its implementation has been seen as a major driver behind the reduction of the Bangladeshi Hindu population, which has declined from an estimated 30% in 1947, to 17% in 1965 to 16% today, representing a loss of around 11 million people. Most of this population left for India, while the more affluent Bangladeshi Hindus leaving due to the act have moved to USA, Canada, Europe and Australia.

Repeal of the act

During Bangladesh's first three decades of independence many politicians made empty promised to repeal the act. The first government of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman vowed to repeal any laws that contradicted the values of the newly liberated country; the Enemy Property Act contravened non-communal provisions of the new constitution. But instead of being repealed it was sustained under a new name in 1974.

Finally in the run up to the 2001 election Sheikh Hasina and the Awami League succeeded in a drive to repeal the act. The Vested Properties Return Act (2001) was implemented (in a session boycoted by the opposition BNP and Jamaat members) in an effort to make amends for the confiscated property. However little progress has been made in returning or compensating lost property under the Khaleda Zia government from 2001-2006. In 2008, [HRCBM (Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities)] filed a writ before Bangladesh Supreme Court under article 102 of the constitution.

International concern

Congressman Crowley of the Bangladesh-American caucus has called for the repeal of the act, as have several Bangladeshi politicians and human rights activists. The current opposition Awami League has vowed to repeal the act if returned to power in the next elections, even though it has yet to acknowledge its own participation in implementation of the act during the 1972-75 period.

An international conference organized by several Hindu activist groups held in London on 16 June 2005 was addressed by, among others, Lord Avebury of the British House of Lords and called for repeal of the act.

The law has been highlighted by the U.S. Department of State and Amnesty International as a major human rights concern that has contributed to internal displacement, emigration and disenfranchisement.