‘New property law will hit Bangladesh’s Hindu minority’

July 16th, 2008 - 1:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, July 16 (IANS) Bangladesh’s caretaker government has been cautioned against promulgating a law that would encourage land grabbers to illegally seize properties belonging to minority Hindus, accelerating a process that has been on since India’s partition in 1947. Human rights activists, lawyers and NGOs urged the military-backed government to scrap the proposed “Vested Property Verification, Selection and Settlement Ordinance, 2008″ the Daily Star reported Wednesday.

There is no need to promulgate such an ordinance since the ‘Vested Property Return Act 2001″ is enough to resolve the land issues of the minority community, they said.

This replaced a Pakistan era law enacted to deal with the ownership rights over the “enemy property”, left behind by millions of minority Hindus who migrated to India on creation of Pakistan.

It was either left to the care of relatives who chose to stay behind, or was grabbed, generating legal disputes.

Studies have shown that this process continued after the emergence of Bangladesh in 1971 and land-grabbing has been condoned by all political parties.

If the proposed ordinance goes through, a vested quarter would use it as a tool to grab the lands of minority people, the rights activists said at a press conference here Tuesday.

“The caretaker government should not intervene in this issue. Rather, they should leave it to the next elected government to deal with it, as it is one of the most sensitive issues concerning public interest,” said Justice Golam Rabbani.

Terming the proposed ordinance anti-people, they also threatened to launch a tough movement if the government did not stop the process to promulgate the ordinance.

Advocate Tubarak Hossain said the proposed ordinance would not able to solve the problems relating to vested property.

Economist Abul Barakat said the land grabbers who have already occupied lands in the name of vested property would benefit from this proposed ordinance.

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