Ansar Ahmed Ullah
A UK based organisation Campaign for the Protection of Religious Minorities in Bangladesh (CPRMB) sighted those reasons for the exodus of Hindus from Bangladesh over the years. In a memorandum address to the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is currently in the UK, it said recently there has been a huge uproar in the social & other media about Priya Biswas Saha’s statement to the US President Donald Trump. Some over enthusiastic so-called patriotic people are asking Priya Saha to be tried for treason. Even fanatics are sensing an opportunity to incite communal violence once again.
CPRMB in their memorandum stated that Priya Saha attempted to draw on two issues, exodus of minorities from Bangladesh and the reason. They say it has been evidenced by researchers and scholars on numerous occasions of the exodus which also shows in the population census statistics of the Government of Bangladesh. CPRMB quotes Professor Abdul Barakat’s research carried out spanning a period over thirty years which said that 11.3 million Hindus has left Bangladesh between 1949 and 2013 and that 774 Hindus left Bangladesh every day between 2001 and 2012.
The CPRMB puts it down to lack of safety & security with the failure to protect assets as the main reasons for Hindus leaving Bangladesh. The successive governments have not only failed to provide proper safety and security, in some cases communal violence has been incited by the ruling government.
In 1992 the very first communal violence was recorded in Bangladesh. Two years after that mass atrocities were recoded involving killings and rapes of Hindus. In post-election violence in 2001 there were at least 355 reported killings of Hindus with more than 3,270 other incidents. In 2013, again there were large scale atrocities committed in different parts of the country culminating in killings and rape. Not very long ago in 2014 in post-election atrocities the same vicious nature of atrocities was repeated all over the country. Justice was promised but never delivered.
Priya Saha may have incorrectly quoted numbers but there is no doubt about an exodus of Hindus from Bangladesh. CPRMB posed the question that if Priya Saha is to be tried for treason for telling the truth as a whole, what message would it give to the 18 million minorities in Bangladesh while they have not seen any trial of atrocities that has been committed on them including killings and rapes?
CPRMB suggests that the Bangladesh government can address the issues that Priya Saha has raised. The government can build the confidence of minorities by addressing the sufferings at the grassroot level on priority basis. They can also restore the secular constitution of 1972 to give their confidence a big boost. They can quicken the process to fulfil their election manifesto promise by establishing a separate ministry for the minorities. A complete abolition of Vested Properties Act and returning land taken away from Hindus during 1965 to 2006 would be desirable. Speedy trials of the perpetrators committing atrocities on minorities must be considered.
It is reported that the UK based minority organisations have sought appointments with the High Commissioner to discuss various issues on a number of occasions. CPRMB claims a number of letters have been sent by various organisations highlighting persecutions on religious minorities. Unfortunately, the High Commission has chosen not to respond.
The petition ends with requesting the Prime Minister to take further actions in defusing the current hostile situation and address the long-term issues in relation to the sufferings of minorities in Bangladesh to boost and restore their confidence. The petition was signed by its President Debashish Das, General Secretary Ajit K Saha & Advisor Mihir Sarkar. Copies have been sent to Rt. Hon Dominic Rabb MP, Foreign Secretary, Rt. Hon Bob Blackman MP and Ms Tulip Siddiq MP.