Deprivation of Hindu Minority in Bangladesh: Living With Vested Property

This Act contradicts the basic spirit of the proclamation of Independence of Bangladesh and the basic premises of the Constitutional provisions of “equality, equity, freedom and justice for all citizens.” This Act is inherently communal, anti-human, and anti-democracy. To ensure a true environment for humane development in Bangladesh, there is no alternative but to abolish this Act and return back the properties affected by Enemy/Vested Property Act to their legal owners and/or inheritors. The resolution of the problems of deprivation of Hindu minorities created by the Enemy/Vested property Act demands insightful leadership with cool head, courage and warm heart together with substantive public actions. This is absolutely necessary to institutionalize freedom, liberty and choice as both means and ends to true humane development in future Bangladesh.

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About The Author

Abul Barkat

Abul Barkat, Ph. D. is currently Professor and Chair, Department of Economics, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Dr. Barkat is a reputed researcher in the field of political economy of human development with special concentration on poverty and humane development, indigenous and minority peoples right to development, land-poverty-development nexus, criminalization of economy and politics, gender divide in development, population and health, and economics of fundamentalism. Dr.Barkat has in his credit over two hundred and fifty research studies and publications. Dr. Barkat’s research based pioneering books in the area of political Economy of Land in Bangladesh are: Deprivation of Hindu Minorities in Bangladesh: Living with Vested property, Char Land in Bangladesh : Political Economy of Ignored Resource, Political Economy of Land Litigation in Bangladesh, A Case of Colossal National Wastage, Political Economy of Khas Land in Bangladesh, An Inquiry into Causes and Consequences of Deprivation of Hindu Minorities in Bangladesh through the Vested property Act: Framework for a Realistic Solution, Political Economy of the Vested Property Act in Rural Bangladesh. He actively participates in the civil society activities. Dr. Barkat is the current elected General Secretary (2007-2009) of the Bangladesh Economic Association.

Mozammel Hoque, MA, MBA is a freelance consultant having work experience of around 29 years in diverse capacities with various development organizations- such as CARE, Save the Children Australia and UNDP. Taking keen interest in rights-related studies and research, Mr. Hoque has delved deep into many aspects of development in Bangladesh. He has worked as well as conducted research in such areas as women’s rights, child rights, literacy and income-generating activities. He has authored and co-authored a good number of publications in both development and economic areas.

Sadeka Halim, Ph.D. is currently Professor of Sociology at the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. She is a reputed researcher on gender and development, focusing indigenous peoples of Bangladesh. Her research interest covers wide range of issues covering environment, Child right, forestry, trafficking of women and children, women in education, women and rural electrification. Dr. Halim has over fifty publications in her credit. She is also a reputed women rights’ activist in Bangladesh.

Asmar Osman, MSS, with an excellent academic background, is involved in socio-economic research in a research organization Human Development Research Centre (HDRC). Development Economics and other areas of development are his area of expertise and interest. He has co-authored the research-book titled Development as Conscientization: The Case of Nijera Kori in Bangladesh. He has a number of creative books in his credit. Asmar is the current elected Assistant General Secretary (2007-2009) of Bangladesh Economic Association.

Enactment and implementation of the Enemy property Act and its continuation in the name of Vested property Act has its distinct historical root doctrined in the religion-based statecraft of Pakistan. The feudal-military autocratic rulers of Pakistan in their quest for Pakistanization of Pakistan, from the very outset, wanted to get rid of the majority-Benga-lees and Bangali culture. The consequences of operation of Enemy/vested property Act have been, simply, gross denial of freedom and liberty, and institutionalization of systematic socio-culture, economic, and political deprivation of the Hindu minority in Bangladesh. The national disaster has been so huge that during the last four decades (1965-2006) approximately 1.2 million (out of the total of 2.7 million) households or 6 million people belonging to Hindu religion are directly and severely affected by the Enemy/vested property Act and have lost 2.6 million acres of their own land property. They have lost, in addition to land property, other immovable and movable property. The approximate money value of such loss (US $ 55 billion) would be equivalent to 75 percent of the GDP of Bangladesh (in 2007 price). In addition, there has been unmeasurable extent of national loses of human capital formation evident in forced mass-outmigration of Hindu minority, breaking of family ties, stresses and strains, mental agonies, loss of human potentials, disruption in communal harmony, unfreedom, cultural disintegration, and fueling of non-secular mindset and rise of religious fundamentalism. For the hindu community, all these have created a perpetual cycle of deprivation including powerlessness, vulnerabillity, physical and psychological weakness, poverty, and isolation. The whole issue has been instrumental in producing and reproducing distress and deprivation among Hindu minority as well as institutionalizing communal mindset in a historically secular context.

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