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We are SUFFERING 45 Years: Repeal Enemy Property Act Now

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Honourable Sheikh Hasina

Prime Minister, Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh

Prime Minister's Office. Tejgaon, Dhaka - 1215.

 

Subject: An appeal to repeal the Vested (Enemy) Property Act at the earliest

 

Honourable Prime Minister:

 

You are well aware of the adverse effect of the ‘Vested (Enemy) Property Act’ and the untold sufferings of the religious minorities in Bangladesh. You are also committed to repeal this vicious Act. You could please remember while we met you in Sept 2008 in Virginia, USA, you promised to repeal the Act if you would rein into the state power. Further, while we met you again in Sept 2009 in New York you reaffirmed your assurance to repeal the Act. We trust your commitment from bottom of our heart since during your last tenure in the govt. during 1996-2001, you had once repelled the Act, which was later re-instead. This year (2010) a bill was supposed to be placed in the parliament, which you had postponed at our request, because that bill was not adequate to mitigate our sufferings. Now in Bangladesh our friends had put 7-point recommendations to include with the bill.  Please look into the matter and include those. We request you to use your immense power to repeal this discriminatory law and help the people who voted you absolutely to regain their lost rights.

 

The Vested (Enemy) Property Act is a discriminatory act by the Government against its own citizens. This discriminatory law in its 45 years of existence has affected millions of minorities, mainly Hindus in Bangladesh. Fact is that in the past 45 years minorities of Bangladesh have been dispossessed of more than 2.5 millions (about 3 million) acres of land properties through this black act. The Defense of Pakistan Rules branding Hindu citizens of the country as the enemy was enacted by Pakistan during its war with India in 1965. But with a twist of irony, that infamous decree found its way to become an instrument of persecution in the independent Bangladesh. Bangladesh fought a heroic war against Pakistan and earned its independence, meaning Bangladesh is neither a part nor a successor of Pakistan since March 26, 1971. Also neither Bangladesh nor India waged or declared any war against each other. Therefore, how enemy of Pakistan becomes enemy of Bangladesh, or is Bangladesh after gaining independence with the direct military help of India remains at a state of war with India?

 

The Vested Property Act is violation of the Constitution of Bangladesh. The following articles will be very much relevant to explain how this Act is anti-constitutional:

 

Article 11: Democracy and human rights

The Republic shall be a democracy in which fundamental human rights and freedoms and respect for the dignity and worth of the human person shall be guaranteed and in which effective participation by the people through their elected representatives in administration at all levels shall be ensured.

 

Article 13: Principles of ownership

The people shall own or control the instruments and means of production and distribution, and with this end in view ownership shall assume the following forms-

The people shall own or control the instruments and means of production and distribution, and with this end in view ownership shall assume the following forms-

  1. state ownership, that is ownership by the State on behalf of the people through the creation of an efficient and dynamic nationalised public sector embracing the key sectors of the economy;
  2. co-operative ownership, that is ownership by co-operatives on behalf of their members within such limits as may be prescribed by law; and
  3. private ownership, that is ownership by individuals within such limits as may be prescribed by law.

 

Article 27: Equality before law

All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law.

 

Article 28: Discrimination on grounds of religion, etc

(1) The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race caste, sex or place of birth.

(2) Women shall have equal rights with men in all spheres of the State and of public life.

(3) No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth be subjected to any disability, liability, restriction or condition with regard to access to any place of public entertainment or resort, or admission to any educational institution.

(4) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making special provision in favour of women or children or for the advancement of any backward section of citizens.

Thus the vested property act with all its attributes is a gross violation of all the above stated articles of Bangladesh Constitution.

 

Appeal:

 

Vested Property Act, as an encroachment on the law of inheritance of Enemy Property should be abolished. More so, the context under which the Enemy Property Act emerged, ceases from the date of proclamation of Independence of Bangladesh in 1971, and there exists a Friendship Treaty with India.

 

A list containing details (name, address, amount of land and other assets dispossessed by type and year of dispossession, dag, khatian, mouza, current status etc.) of those affected by EPA/VPA should be published by the Government of Bangladesh.

 

All activities related to the identification and enlistment of any property as vested should be banned, immediately. In this regard, a declaration in the mass media should be the immediate action of this democratic government.

 

All vested property under the custody of the government should be leased out to real owners or their legal heirs who are permanent residents of Bangladesh till the final settlement of the problem. In this regard preference should be assigned in accordance with the law of inheritance.

 

No property should be taken to the custody of the vested property administration if the owners of the property of their legal inheritors (co-shares) are in possession of that property.

 

All 99 years leases of vested properties should be declared null and void and the ownership rights of the original owners or their inheritors (co-sharers) should be established if they are the bona-fide citizens of Bangladesh.

 

All vested deity property and places of cremation should be unvested and brought under public trust. The leased-out or sold-out properties belonging to this category should be declared void.

 

Law of inheritance should be enforced with an adequate provision for women inheritance. If the male heirs of the property are absent and the females are permanently resident in Bangladesh, the property should be leased out to them (women) until a final settlement is made.

 

A detail case study of the Enemy Property Act was done & reported by Dr. Abul Barakat in his publications. A report will be found in www.bhbcuc-usa.org  on the topic at report section. Thank you in advance.

 

Sincerely,

Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council, USA, Canada & Europe

Bangladesh Minority Alliance

unitycouncilusa@gmail.com; europebhbcuc@gmail.com

www.bhbcuc-usa.org


Sponsor

USA: Sitangshu Guha, Ratan Barua, Nabendu Dutta, Thomas Roy, Sushil Saha, Pradip Das, Chandan SenGupta, Dr. Niranjan Ray, Pradip Malaker, Bishnu Gope, Biswajit Saha, Suhas Barua & others. Europe: Sweden: Tarun Chowdhury; Jaideep Guha & Chitra Paul. Geneva: Palash Barua, Arun Barua & Babul Sarker. London: Debabrata Chowdhury; Dr. Chittya Das, Dr. Kabiraj Santayana, Dr. Rani Santayana & James Swapan Peris. Italy: Kartik Paul, Milon Chowdhury. Paris: Udayan Barua, Swadesh Barua, Bikash Barua Nantu and others. Finland: Jibon Saha. Germany: Swapan Roy. Australia: Dr. Samir Sarker. Montreal: Pradip Sarker Dolon and Saroj Das. Toronto: Kirit Sinha Roy. Holland: Bikash Roy. Greece: Sunil Ghosh Spain: Arup Barua

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